Call it Chicken Little Meets the Easter Bunny-Pilot at Church.
It wasn’t the sky falling, but Easter eggs. And the Easter Bunny took the form of a pilot in a helicopter, strategically dropping eggs on three marked zones of a playing field in Riverside, at a recreation center where Orangecrest Community Church meets weekly.
All this craziness really happened, on Easter Sunday, at this five-year-old church in Riverside.
Pastor Josh De La Rosa explains: “We gathered everyone after the service on the sidelines – the city was real strict on where people could and couldn’t stand. So we had a lot of volunteers to help maintain order. Then the helicopter flew in, and everybody’s waving and cheering, all the kids, all the adults. We had three drop zones – for three different age groups – clearly marked for the pilot. He came about 30-50 feet over the drop zones, and once he was done went up and was waving and cheering to everybody on the ground. There was just a lot of excitement, lots of fun.”
Then ensued the typical maelstrom of church Easter egg hunts: dozens upon dozens of children running – not walking – to collect as many plastic eggs as they could scoop up as fast as they could fill their Spider-Man baskets.
Or, as De La Rosa expresses it: “The actual hunt only takes a few minutes. It’s like a locust swarm, and then they’re gone.”
Exciting as the helicopter Easter egg drop and hunt was, De La Rosa insists, “The big deal for us was connecting with a lot of people. We were most excited about how many people were exposed to the gospel.”
The relatively young church, which averages 250-300 on any given Sunday, normally hosts about 350 on Easter Sunday. This year, about 500 attended Easter services, and another 150-200 came just to the egg hunt event. Several people made decisions to follow Christ, and the church continues to follow up with them and others who have begun attending as a result of the event.
Using seed money from California Southern Baptist Convention – funds from the California Mission Offering – the church printed business cards they stuffed inside Easter eggs. Then, in one day, “We egged the city, placing Easter eggs door to door with an invite to the service, egg drop and hunt.”
De La Rosa added, “We knew it would be an unusual draw, and it would be easy to invite people to it because they were curious. I had some neighbors come, who previously weren’t interested in talking about church at all. One is still attending, and is pretty close to making a decision (for Christ).”
Such an event is precisely what Randy McWhorter, CSBC evangelism director, had in mind when he offered $150 to as many as 550 CSBC churches, to help with an evangelistic event this year. About 300 churches have accepted the offer to offset costs associated with the efforts.
“The point was to provide an event that was in line with our approach,” De La Rosa explained. “We invest in people and relationships, loving, serving and caring – and then invite them in at strategic points … like this event.”
In mid-July each year, for instance, Orangecrest Community Church offers a five-day evening sports camp. “We teach six sports, and incorporate the spiritual component into team huddles, teaching God’s values and ways through concepts like teamwork, courage, sacrifice and perseverance. We typically attract about 150 grade-school kids.”
Maybe the Easter Bunny could be the camp mascot? Whatever the event, Orangecrest Community Church is sure to seize the chance to share their higher mission – the gospel – with those who attend.
To watch a video about Orangecrest Community Church, click here.
Here are pictures for use in promoting this ministry.