A new website gives children the chance to have their say in the Methodist Church

The 1st of September will see the launch of a website dedicatedto the children of the Methodist Church, thought to be the first ofits kind produced for 0-12 year-olds by a major Britishdenomination. www.methodistchildren.org.uk seeks to give children achance to have their say about what is important to them, both interms of church life and wider social issues. There will be regularpolls, finding out their opinions about issues such as what thegovernment could change in schools and message boards so that theycan discuss their experiences and beliefs with one another.Children can send in their pictures for display in the gallery,read an animated storybook, or explore 'the Methodist Story'online, but the website will also seek to address serious issuessuch as advice about staying safe on the Internet.

But it's not just for the children Ð the site also features an areadedicated to children's workers, providing links to resources aswell as information about training courses and events. They toowill have a message board and the aim is to build up a network ofleaders, giving them the opportunity to express their concerns andchallenges, share advice and benefit from one another's experienceand new ideas.

One way that the Church hopes to enable better communication withchildren and children's workers is through two online surveysavailable on the website. The one aimed at the children asks themabout topics such as their favourite worship songs, what they do inchurch and even why they go to church in the first place. Theleader's survey aims to get a better idea of what kind of provisionexists for children within the churches and what kind of traininghas been received by children's workers, but it also focuses ontheir needs, asking about what support is available to them andwhat more is necessary.

The results of these questionnaires will be brought to MethodistConference, giving a clearer picture of what's going on in theChurch's children's work and inspiring ideas for the way forwardwith Methodist children. It's all about letting children andchildren's leaders influence the evolution of work within thechurch. It is as much their church as it is any other age group'sand these developments indicate a very real desire to connect notonly with children's workers to give them resources, guidance andsupport, but also to connect with children about what is relevantto them.

Steve Pearce, Children's Secretary for the Methodist Church says,'The riches that children have to offer often go unnoticed withinthe Methodist Church as elsewhere and this initiative gives achance for children's voices to be heard talking about what'sreally important. The Church needs to listen to children, not justso that it is better able to meet their needs, but also so that itis better able to 'turn and become as a child' itself. The Churchis dedicated to supporting both children and those who work withthem and the website and new logo are just one of our resources forreaching and helping them. The website will grow and develop withtime as we become more aware of the needs of Methodist children andchildren's workers, so let us know what you think."