Monday, October 22, 2018

Don't Celebrate Halloween This Year!

When I was growing up, we went trick-or-treating all over the community where I was raised. Our large and extended family would pile into the back of my dad's 1980 Nissan Datsun truck and we would hit every house with a light on. We would make out like bandits, only to get home and have our parents "check out" our candy to make sure it was "safe" to eat. As kids, we always looked forward to dressing up like our favorite superhero or cartoon character and hitting people up for sugary goodness! Not much has changed in the last 30 years when it comes to Halloween. Many kids still dress up in costumes and hit up neighborhoods all across our country. With parents in tow, the kids stop for candy at every house they can visit.

Now I realize there are many people out there who do not celebrate or participate in Halloween. Some do it for religious reasons. Others do it because they don't live in an area conducive to children visiting their home. And yet others may not have relationships with parents of young children and therefore, no visits on Halloween. As we've been discussing Halloween in recent weeks, I've come to the realization that we've been viewing Halloween all wrong. Halloween is not something to be celebrated, but instead it is something to be used.

When I started serving at our new church, we had 3 months until Halloween rolled around. Knowing that many churches plan Trunk-or-Treats or Fall Festivals around the time of Halloween, I started inquiring about our new church's activities surrounding Halloween. Our church, like many will do a Trunk-or-Treat and we do ours on the Sunday night before Halloween. As I looked at the calendar, I noticed that Halloween was on a Wednesday night and since we have services on Wednesday nights, we could expect lower attendance on that night. Those with small children would likely take their kids to get candy. Those with grandchildren or homes frequently visited by kids would likely stay home to dish out candy. So we decided to use Halloween for the benefit of our church.

Halloween is the one time of the year when we invite people to our door or take our children to homes we wouldn't normally visit. In essence, Halloween is the one time a year when the world comes to our door or we go to their door. So why would we miss the opportunity to invite them to church and start to build relationships with them? Last year, my wife and I had some good conversations with folks as we handed out candy in our driveway. We had the chance to meet some neighbors we'd never met before. We even had the chance to invite some to church. As I considered how to use Halloween to the advantage of our church, we decided to cancel services on Halloween. Our plan is not to celebrate Halloween, but instead to use it as an outreach event. We plan to distribute to our church members invites to church that they can drop into a kid's bag while handing out candy. For those taking their kids to get candy, they can hand the invite to folks who hand out candy and invite them to church. We are trying our best to utilize the opportunity the world presents to us so we can invite people to church.

I would encourage you to consider using Halloween as an outreach event for your church rather than simply celebrating it this year. Even if you only make one contact that brings a person to church and ultimately to faith in Jesus Christ, then it was well worth it.

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