Echoes of Surprise
“He remembered my name.”
“I never laughed so hard.”
“I didn’t expect them to play that song.”
“They gave us free pizza at midnight.”
“When we pulled in they where all dressed in costumes hanging in the trees.”
“He gave me his own hat!”
“We came home from the mission trip and there were a hundred people waving banners welcoming us home!”
The element of surprise is the element that is most talked about after the event! When the unexpected happens people remember. They want to come back for more. There is delight in surprise. “I didn’t expect that.” If you want people talking to others about your camp, program, lock-in etc… plan surprises. Add the extra’s
There are good surprises and bad surprises. Good taste and common sense are a must. Scary, shocking, and upsetting surprises need to be avoided. Generally concrete sequential people don’t like surprises. Ask yourself if your element of surprise would cause anxiety for anyone. Be sure the humor in an element of surprise for the benefit of your participants and not just something you find humor in at their expense.
Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
Hospitality – It is surprising when people go out of their way to welcome. People know when extra thought has been put into hospitality. What people don’t want is the awkward feeling of walking into a group where the surprise is that someone new showed up. Make the surprise one that is meaningful and memorable.
Comedy – Most comedy is based on surprise. People laugh because they hear things, or witness things they did not expect to hear or see. Unexpected words and actions used in new ways can cause laughter. Find those with this gift and set them loose!
Gifts – We expect gifts at our birthday, but when something is given at an odd time, or something given that recognizes an important caring relationship, it stands out. Gifts may be material, physical and even verbal. Random acts of kindness appeal to us as they are unexpected. Appreciation and recognition, such as just stopping and asking everyone to applaud someone for something that normally does not get recognized is remembered.
Schedule – While the schedule is important for people’s comfort, build in some surprises that are not on the schedule. “It says lights out… but tonight you can stay up until… and just for fun we have pizza for you!”
Surprise Guest – Wether it be someone in costume impersonating a character in a humorous skit or your own local celebrity sharing words of wisdom, or kids parents filing in with letters of affirmation, the honor that someone shows up just for your ministry group is remembered.
Trusting – “I would like you to…” There is an honoring surprise when someone thinks you have the gifts, the talents, the ability to take on a task. Ask people to use their gifts! It is amazing that someone noticed. “It is amazing that someone even noticed me.”
Surprise Me Jesus – Jesus did everything different than people expected. Arriving as a baby in a manger, healing, miracles, practical jokes (hey guys, throw your nets over on the other side.) upsetting the established religion, rising from the dead… Jesus’ life was and is a surprise to all, as is his continuing love and grace. What a great prayer to pray! “Surprise me Jesus.” We never know what is next!
Plan to welcome. Plan the extraordinary. Learn of the surprises of Jesus. Pray, “Surprise Me Jesus.” Listen and watch for the unexpected surprises and responses from your prayer.