A few years back, Elevation Church tried something before Easter. They created a preview night for their staff. It was a way to let all the staff who might have not been involved in the preparation see what it would look like. It also gave them an opportunity to give feedback on the presentation.
When the team at Champions Centre heard about the idea, they latched onto it. Essentially, about ten days before the Easter weekend hits, they have a full dress rehearsal for the service. They run through the creative elements as if it was the real deal. Their purpose is to gather feedback but also to give their pastor a chance to see the whole thing put together for the first time. The team could sit down and describe what would happen, but it never compares to actually seeing it. That, then, allows their pastor to give them edits and feedback.
Before doing the preview night, they found that Easter weekend was often the first time their pastor got a chance to see what was going to happen. And if they weren’t hitting the mark on the creative elements, there wasn’t much opportunity to make any changes before the subsequent services. Really, the preview night allows the team enough time to actually make changes so the service can be a homerun. Sometimes the preview night has wowed their pastor, and sometimes it’s underwhelmed him. But that buffer gives them a chance to do a better job when the actual service comes around.
The preview night has changed a little bit as time has gone on. Initially, their goal was to do the preview night two weeks prior to the event. But that takes a serious financial investment. You have to bring in the rentals early: projectors, lighting, everything. And two weeks significantly raises the costs of bringing those in. So for them, ten days gives them enough buffer to tweak what they need without it becoming too much of a financial burden.
Also, in the past, they’ve invited their whole staff into the preview nights and given them feedback forms. And while that’s beneficial and can give you a bunch of different perspectives, they’ve lately realized the most important voice in the room is that of Pastor Kevin. They still take feedback from other staff members, but they don’t feel like each piece of feedback has to be acted upon.
The side benefit of doing something like a preview night, even if it isn’t a full ten days out from the event, is that it gives your team a certain calm when it comes to the actual event. They’ve found that, as hard as it feels to push that window and be prepared earlier than they actually need, they’re grateful for the preview night after they do it. It gives them a confidence to know that their ideas will work. And even though Easter weekend still has its marathon schedule, it gives them a spirit of ease when it comes to executing the vision. It’s been a real joyful thing for them to experience Easter with more confidence and less question marks.