Their house was dark. Trick or Treaters scoured the neighborhood. Everyone was having fun, but that house seemed to stick out like a zombie costume in the middle of a Broadway musical. They were another unfriendly house, until I began to believe I, too, should shun Halloween.
That lasted for several years, early in my (pretend) Christian belief until someone turned the light on in me. Why was I shunning Halloween?
And every year, I read blogs, both for and against it, of people of all Christian walks making statements. To me, shunning Halloween is a form of legalism. We’re adding to what the Bible says. This is a culture thing, not a religious belief thing. It’s a fun event for children and adults. Kids in costume are not practicing witchcraft, doing divination, or calling up the dead. They are playing pretend characters like what we used to do as children with our blanket and cardboard forts and invisible friends. They are superman saving the world, G.I. Joe coming to the rescue of Barbie, or a villain looking for world domination.
Whether you hate Halloween or love it, this is an excellent time for Christians to reach out to their neighbors. I would urge you to step away from your inhibitions and try a few suggestions:
1) Hand out candy with or without a costume. You can hand out scripture candy or regular candy. It’s a believer meeting a stranger at the door, encouraging a small child with a smile, or speaking to a neighbor you hadn’t seen in months because you never socialize.
2) Don’t hand out tracts. Tracts are a major disappointment to a child. They are looking to stock up on candy; hence, the pillow cases. You’re not going to evangelize at the front door. It’s conversations that open up topics about Jesus.
3) Carve a pumpkin. You can create pure art out of these things. You can carve a cross or Jesus. You can make a sneering face. The point is it’s just a pumpkin. Don’t forget to roast the seeds.
4) Play Christian music. An excellent choice for those who don’t like Halloween. Sadly, our Christian station goes to preaching after a certain time instead of music. While I don’t mind the preaching on a normal day, this is a social event. Social events need music.
5) Have a haunted house. Fond memories of past Halloween’s, of haunted houses, and pure fun are great for them to reminisce about as adults. You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood. “Look,” they’ll say, “That neighbor has a great haunted house.” Perhaps when they find out you’re a Christian, they might even consider coming to your church.
6) Have something for the adults to encourage them to come away from the curb. Every year we have cookies and fresh brewed coffee for the adults and candy for the children. It solved my dilemma when I would have teenagers come, some barely in costume, trying to get free candy. Trick or treating is for children and so my cookies and coffee option give teenagers a choice to be an adult (coffee and cookies) or to be a child (candy only).
7) TALK to people. The coffee and cookies brings the adults away from the curb. It also shows you care about them when you take the time to listen and speak. Eventually, you establish a reputation in the neighborhood. On a cold night, nothing is better than conversation and hot coffee.
8) Trick or Treat Warnings. Unfortunately, the later it gets the more we get the parents whose kids are allowed to plunge both fists into a bowl of candy or run to the cookies and grab them without asking first. So we usually close before we get to that part of the evening. That’s when the crowd trickles and we know the evening is ending. One of us always has to put the food and candy up high because in their parents culture it seems kids are allowed to be undisciplined.
9) The Teenagers. You’re too old to trick or treat.
10) Candy. I only give out hard candy. With over 200 visitors, expenses pile up. Plus, if I had chocolate, that would be a tough choice for the teenager. If I were a teenager, I would lunge for the chocolate.
So, if you are a Christian, think outside the box and stop being the only dark house in the neighborhood. You’re missing an excellent opportunity for a harvest.
This year a friend is letting us borrow a portable fire pit. Please join us on Halloween! We’ll be open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (thereabouts).