Growing up in Nebraska Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I got to dress up, I got free candy and it’s my dad’s birthday which meant we had a party! Sometimes they were huge costume parties where all my parents’ friends dressed up. One-year Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy came to my dad’s party! Sometimes they were smaller parties where we celebrated together as a family. One year due to a huge snow storm (yes in October…welcome to Nebraska) they canceled Halloween, so my Dad will tell you he’s still a year younger than he really is. I really enjoyed Halloween growing up. For me, it was a time when we gathered with friends, family, and neighbors.
Admittedly, growing up we were not the family going to church every Sunday. We sporadically went to church usually with our grandparents. We also weren’t holding seances to contact the dead. We were a typical mid-western family that believed in God but didn’t put much stalk in what that really meant. In 2000 I moved out to NOVA to be a nanny for a family in Ashburn, VA. Without going into great detail, I came into a relationship with Christ at the invitation of a friend.
I didn’t grow up thinking there was anything inherently wrong with Halloween. I heard rumblings amongst families every year, but since I didn’t have kids, I never paid much attention. Then God calls me into Children’s Ministry. In the early years I mostly tried to avoid it not wanting to pick a side, but then one year it, of course, landed on a Wednesday night. Which meant I had to come face to face with Halloween and take some sort of a stand. That year I chose neutral. We had our Wednesday evening activity but didn’t penalize anyone for not coming. For those kids who came we gave them the leftover Trunk or Treat candy and for those who didn’t, it didn’t count against them as an absence. We were pretty much split. 50% of the kids came and the other 50% did not.
So, this year I spent more time praying through and researching Halloween and here’s what I decided. Let me first say my philosophy of ministry is that Parents are the primary influencers of their children’s spirituality and my job is to come alongside parents as they disciple their children. So my stance is to let your own heart be convinced. I really think this is a personal parenting decision and there is no right or wrong way in this instance. If you see nothing wrong with it then partake if you do then please abstain. Either way, we have freedom in Christ and shouldn’t use our personal convictions as a way to judge others.
With that said no matter which side you land on I think Halloween lends itself to be a great opportunity to love your neighbors! That is why this year we are not having BreakOut. BreakOut is our mid-week discipleship for 3rd-5thgrade. Our focus this year is OUT to the world in service. This year I’m challenging our students to do just that.
Here are some ways:
- DO pray for your neighbors. Whether you partake in Halloween or not use this opportunity to pray for those in your neighborhood. God plants us in specific locations for His purpose. Pray for them as they walk
upyour driveway. Pray for them as they walk away. Pray for opportunities to develop lasting relationships with them. Ask God to reveal himself to your neighbors, to encourage them through their interactions with you and other Christians in their lives.
- DO demonstrate audacious Generosity. Halloween gives us an uncomplicated opportunity to display Christ to our neighbors. So, if you hand out candy give the good stuff. If you must hand out toothbrushes give them gummies, so they have something to get out of their teeth. Use this as an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. Give them your full name and phone number in case they ever need the proverbial “cup of sugar.”
- DON’T have strings attached. Of course, share your faith it’s your #1 job as a Christian, but people know when their being treated like a prospect or used to reach a goal. Be wise in when and how you share. Remember no one can refute your own experience or testimony. Here’s a great article on the bait-and-switch and how to avoid it.
- DO engage in community events. Be available to help out, serve, or be involved in the community pumpkin carving or clean-up day. Remember a lot of sharing your faith is playing the long game, building relationships over time. Maybe throw a little harvest party of your own!
- DON’T be weird. Halloween is an opportunity to connect with your neighbors; it is a chance to build relationships, and to serve your neighbors well. Remove the pressure from the opportunity to connect, and just show up, open the door, and be you. You don’t have to force the moment. You don’t have to hold up a strawberry Twizzler and compare it to the red blood of Jesus. That’s weird. And it most likely won’t result in any future interactions with your neighbors. Be genuine. Be loving. And have fun.
- DO continue your investment. All of the above can be used on Halloween or any other day of the year! Practice them often. Remember we’re playing the long game. Be intentional and be examples for your students.