As churches large and small seek to draw in infrequent worshippers on Easter Sunday, helicopter egg drops have become an increasingly popular strategy. But some observers of evangelical culture question the tactic.
This weekend and next, churches across America—from California to Maine—are promoting helicopter egg drops. “We’ll be dropping over 3,000 Easter eggs from the sky, and we want your family to be a part of it,” states an online post from Clear Lake Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.
Many megachurches are doing large-scale events. But some relatively smaller congregations, like Beaverdam Baptist Church in central Virginia, also have a chopper booked to fly overhead during Easter weekend—the church’s first egg drop event.
“We’re out in the middle of a rural area, miles from anything civilized,” Pastor Gary Stewart told The Roys Report (TRR). He noted the church’s average weekly attendance runs about 250 people. “But we like to think big and trust God for him to give us his vision and endeavors to get engaged in.”
Stewart said church staff and volunteers had seen online videos of helicopter Easter egg drops and discussed it as a team. Then, a day later, a man in that meeting called Stewart and said his friend, an experienced helicopter pilot, would drop the eggs for free.
Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Jesus v. Evangelicals: A Biblical Critique of a Wayward Movement” by Constantine Campbell. To donate, click here.
It’s a substantial donation. A spokesperson for Platinum Helicopters LLC said their company has a half-dozen egg drop events booked for churches in the coming weeks. She noted they’ve done these increasingly “over the past five years” and that each trip costs $400 to $800, depending on how far the church is from the company’s home base.
At its event on the day prior to Easter Sunday, Beaverdam Baptist will be giving away a total of 10,000 eggs to families including thousands dropped from the sky.
“We’re excited to invite people out to have a good time with their kids,” Stewart told TRR. “Everybody who joins us will hear about the true meaning of Easter as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.”
Easter considered ‘Super Bowl’ for churches
For decades, many pastors have referred to Easter Sunday as their “Super Bowl”—akin to how even casual NFL fans prioritize engaging with the big game.
A Gallup poll on churchgoing habits released in December revealed that 24% of Americans report they “seldom” attend church. And multiple polls from Lifeway Research find Easter Sunday is the highest-attended service for Protestant churches in any given year.
As a result, many church leaders plan creative strategies months in advance to maximize the impact of that weekend. Stewart noted their church typically sends a direct-mail postcard to families in their zip code, which this year will mention the egg drop event.
“In all my years in ministry and missions, I’ve seen that most parents will go out of their way to do something fun for their kids,” said Stewart. “The helicopter puts a novelty into it and probably gets many dads most excited—they’d like to see a helicopter drop some eggs.”
Pastor and theology professor Jeremy Berg discussed church egg drop events in a blog post, noting that it feels like church marketing “taken way too far.” He asked: “Is this an appropriate way to celebrate the true meaning and message of Easter? Are we sending mixed messages?”
Yet one predominantly Latino congregation, Aguilas Centro Familiar Cristiano Church in Las Vegas, Nevada—which has for years staged a small theatrical production—is adding a helicopter egg drop to the festivities this Easter weekend.
According to a report, a helicopter will drop “around 10,000 eggs at the backlot area of their soccer courts” after April 9 services. A church representative stated that they see the event as “an important opportunity to deliver the message of the Gospel to as many people as possible.”
The appeal of helicopter egg drops seems to cross geographic boundaries and denominational lines. Many Southern Baptist churches apart from Beaverdam Baptist have similar events planned. Dozens of nondenominational churches are promoting egg drops, too, from Church of the Cascades in Bend, Oregon, to Twelve Church in Hudson, Florida.
And First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls, Texas, is getting in on the trend as well. The church has an April 8 event featuring a petting zoo, “which will include a pony, mini donkey, goat, chickens, pig, rabbits, and baby chicks!” according to a Facebook post.
Outreach in an ‘over-consumptive’ culture
Author and New Testament professor Scot McKnight said he is skeptical of the strategy. “Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus, about the launching of new creation,” he told TRR. “Conflating egg drops with the sacred event of the resurrection pollutes the Gospel message.”
Similarly, Berg said he understood churches desiring to be culturally savvy, but such events can reinforce an “over-consumptive culture” rather than challenge it. “God’s people are at the football field taking pictures with the Easter bunny, and kids being taught (implicitly) once again that life is about getting—more candy, more eggs, me – me – me,” he wrote.
Recently shuttered multi-site megachurch Next Level Church (NLC) made helicopter Easter egg drops a significant part of their community outreach strategies over the past decade. In recent interviews with TRR, church staff said it reflected the narcissism of disgraced NLC founder Josh Gagnon. “Church has become everything but what God intended it to be,” said former NLC creative director Alex Goff.
The pastor in Virginia responded to critics of the strategy. “We’re definitely not taking away from our purpose centered on the Gospel,” said Stewart. “If we did not do it, then I believe a lot of these children might not get to hear the true meaning of Easter. The positives far outweigh whatever negatives there are.”
Past reports indicate egg drop events do not always go as planned. For its first community event, Elevate Life Church in Jacksonville, Florida, staged a large-scale helicopter drop in spring 2011. But Elevate’s pastor termed it “pandemonium” when they “significantly underestimated” the crowd, with several thousand people showing up.
“Even with 20,000 eggs, there were so many kids that some didn’t get any,” stated a local news report. While the church did not respond to inquiries, their social media makes no mention of an egg drop this year or in recent years.
At Beaverdam Baptist, they expect a “good-sized crowd” but Stewart anticipates their staff and volunteers will be able to handle logistics. “We’re doing it so that we might be able to develop a relationship with these families, to do something nice for them and their kids,” he said.
Stewart, whose church runs a school that serves preschool to 7th grade students, added that the recent shooting incident in Nashville hit “close to home” for them. “In a time of anxiety and heart-breaking tragedy, we’re hoping to shine the light of Christ,” he said.
Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.
9 thoughts on “Churches Spring into Action with Helicopter Easter Egg Drops”
Watching churches, including ones I attended, go down this path of nonsense over the past 40 years is sickening. All the foolishness demeans the Gospel and distracts from the seriousness and understanding of it. A church I attended did a series on stewardship called “Giving God His Piece Of The Pie”. In the middle of the so called “sermon” the staff came out on the platform draped in garbage bags and buried their faces in pies and had a pie eating contest. Why? Might as well have a Drag Queen show it would certainly draw a crowd that needs to hear the Gospel. I can’t imagine the Apostles putting on a circus to reach the lost. I am so thankful God led my wife and I to a church that has a high view of scripture,teaches it,and has a reverence for God in all that we do. We still know how to have fun and interact with the non saved.
Let’s hope Brother Stewart and the other pastors mentioned use the next eight months between now and Thanksgiving to give some serious thought to whether dropping stuff out of helicopters is really a good idea.
Anyone remember the Gospel Blimp? That’s what this reminds me of!
Yes! I thought of the Gospel Blimp as well.
Seriously, 3,000 plastic eggs, sounds like littering on a massive scale. We need more plastic trash in this country. There is no way they will account for all those eggs. How is this in any way connected to the resurrection of our Lord and Savior? Are clown cars next?
“I thought chicken eggs could fly!”
A helicopter egg drop is a piñata on rocket fuel. I developed my dislike of piñatas when we, as all loving parents did for our children, strung one up for my daughter’s fifth birthday. As the candy spilled, and the children converged, my timid daughter — the guest of honor — stood by in tears. That was the last one for us. Piñatas teach us to grab all we can without regard for others. Some, as always, are left out. I understand the thrill of dropping plastic eggs from the sky, and if a city or amusement park sponsors one, well, I suppose, no harm. But I filtered the story about church-sponsored Easter egg drops through the experience of my daughter’s piñata party and concluded the new tradition leaves a message that runs contrary to good news of the sacrifice and the victory of Christ that Christians celebrate at Easter.
Excellent comments. I have found that distributing candy is one of the worst possible things to do if you want children to learn and practice civilized behavior. It encourages greed, rudeness, entitlement.
“Everybody who joins us will hear about the true meaning of Easter as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.”
No they wont, they are there for the helicopter and free stuff, not the confusing message you will try to shoehorn into the event.
“said Stewart. “If we did not do it, then I believe a lot of these children might not get to hear the true meaning of Easter. The positives far outweigh whatever negatives there are.””
That is what we call rationalizing. With the format you are using to bring the “true meaning of Easter” most people will see a church that does not take the resurrection of Jesus seriously and that you are bribing them to attend.
Are they taking up collections during these events? This is a “look at what I am doing moment”, not a celebration of our salvation through Christ’s resurrection. I would be interested on what scripture they are basing this choice on.
The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people use their full name when commenting. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
Comments are limited to 300 words.