"Go Fish For Kids" Worship
Festival Equips Kids for Ministry

On the last day of February 2009, a combined group of 340 children and their parents from across the Oregon Conference gathered at the Holden Convention Center to learn skills that will equip them for ministry. Children were divided by their own interests (many of whom took a spiritual gifts quiz) into six ministry workshops: puppeteering /ventriloquism, service projects, preaching, story telling, clowns/face-painting, and sign language. Children were outfitted with a tackle box (handy for carrying ministry tools), and a colorful fishing hat.

The worship festival, titled "Go Fish for Kids," featured a combination of local conference talent complemented by several guest presenters. Gene Oswald from Southern California teamed up with several teenagers from the McMinnville church to demonstrate the use of puppets, large and small. After each making sock puppets, the children were taught proper puppeteering techniques, and that puppets are an effective way to connect with children of all ages. Speaking more to parents, Gene also offered numerous points on the proper methods of using puppets in ministry and several tips on how to start a puppet ministry in their church.

The service projects workshop offered children hands on training to make greeting cards for the ill, flower boxes for senior citizens, and activity bags for children in hospitals. The preaching workshop, lead by Stephen Lundquist, associate pastor at the Sunnyside church, helped kids understand some basic techniques of creating a sermon, including use of scripture, illustrations, testimonies, and prayer. The sign language class gave several kids special training on how to utilize American Sign Language to share the gospel with the hearing impaired. The story telling class, led by Tracy Woods, helped kids design a story, involve use of props, and practice telling each other developing an outline and linking them together with props to create an effective skit or presentation in an evangelistic setting, or children's church service.

Overall, the festival's curriculum focused on teaching practical and fun ways for children to share God's love with other kids, in an effort to ‘cast their line' through evangelism. Weaving together this curriculum with a theme of character growth was "Professor DoDad" (Darren Casteel), an interdenominational touring children's ministry professional based in Orlando, Florida. With his set "DoDad's Lab" on the main stage, the children enjoyed a live, interactive program that combined colorful props, wacky inventions, puppetry, praise and worship, scripture memorization and mini-sermons.

In the final group session, several of the workshops presented a demonstration of what they learned during their workshops. Of particular note was a puppet show with 40 new puppeteers who used their sock puppets to "lip synch" to a gospel song they had been rehearsing. The members of the preaching class gave a three minute sermon, complete with illustrations, scripture readings, and an invitation to make a commitment to Christ.