In 2008, the young church I was leading wanted to make a big splash in our community. We borrowed an idea from another church and organized an Egg Drop – basically, an Easter Egg hunt on steroids. Instead of scattering on the ground, we would scatter most of them on the ground and drop the rest out of a helicopter.
We aggressively planned for 2,000 people in a town of 17,000.
About 4,500 showed up.
And it was a disaster.
Our communication with the helicopter didn’t work, so instead of hovering to drop the eggs, he made multiple passes. The kids, held back with caution tape, rushed the field as my “NOOOOO” sounded like “GOOOOOO.” The helicopter pilot made multiple passes, spraying the kids eggs like a Blackhawk pilot.
Crying kids were separated from their parents. Angry parents stormed our stage. A few minor fights broke out among adults vying for the eggs with the Nintendo Wii prize. And traffic was backed up for miles.
Our follow up meeting didn’t produce much positive evaluation. I felt like a goof up, and our reputation in the community took a hit. There was no reason we should have done the event again.
But I was committed to the idea and strongly believed we needed to do it two times before deciding whether or not to strike it from our memory. The first time was a disaster, but we learned so much. Mike Tyson says (yes…this is a Mike Tyson quote), “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face.” Our first event was a punch in the face.
But we decided to do The Egg Drop again. We made strategic adjustments, and while the crowd was smaller the second year, the event went off without a hitch.
Today, I tell leaders to commit to any big event two times before committing to it one time. When you try something new, there’s a good chance it won’t work as expected. The first one of anything will probably stink. Get through it and learn from it. There is a great power in repeating things from year to year.
You will learn and it will get better.