This year I killed our Ester Egg hunt.

I’m not going to take all the credit for it, my team really didn’t want to do it either. However, it was me who had to sit in the directional team meeting and say, “Oh, we’re not doing the Egg Hunt this year.” The expressions I got were priceless. Silence. Then someone said, “what do you mean we’re not doing an Egg Hunt?”

Let me scoot back a little. Gateway has done an Egg Hunt every Easter for at least five years, maybe more. I was here for my interview last year right after Easter. My Early Childhood Director spent several minutes telling me how things fell apart. It jus wasn’t well planned or well staffed. Go figure, it was between our Easter services (our most volunteer intensive weekend of the year). It has been Gateway’s strategy to offer and egg hunt after the least attended services to motivate people to attend these services, making room for more people during optimal services. It’s not an outreach, but a strategy to manage seats.

Last year when I was planning the budget for 2009 I say $4000 budgeted for the Egg Hunt. Remembering that it wasn’t a great experience, I allocated that $4000 somewhere else. As we got closer to Easter I started thinking about what we could do that would still motivate people to attend the less attended services but wouldn’t involve egg hunts or spending $4000. My great idea was free family portraits. My staff loved the idea (they weren’t responsible for anything). The directional team wasn’t convinced, but the trusted me (a good feeling for sure).

So, Easter came and went. We had about 6-12 kids show up with Easter Egg baskets and I did get one “death stare” from a mom after she heard we weren’t doing a hunt. Other than that, no one said anything. No one. We took hundreds of family portraits and they loved them. Next year it will be even easier to not do an Egg Hunt. We’ll maximize our free portraits opportunity by getting more photographers and promoting better.

So how many volunteers did it take? Eight, if you include the photographers? How much money did it cost? $75 for the signs I had printed (Matt McKee tells me I could do it for a lot less if I had a wide format printer. So, in 2009 I killed our Egg Hunt and it was good.

Tomorrow I’ll give more details on how we did the portraits. It was easier than you’d think.