I have a confession to make. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Halloween. When I was little, my mom always made me a costume and took me to a few family members’ houses to get candy, but that was about all we did to celebrate. We didn’t decorate the house or get into the spooky side of the holiday. I even remember having some in-depth discussions with my parents when I was about ten or eleven, asking them if it was okay for Christians to celebrate Halloween. I had recently learned the concept of being in the world, but not of the world (you can read a great article on that topic here), and I remember feeling like Halloween was very much “of the world” and something that just didn’t seem like a holiday we should be participating in. Now that I’m a mom, I enjoy the fun, kid-friendly parts of the holiday like cute costumes and trick-or-treating, but there are still things I’m not the biggest fan of, like the spooky decorations, gruesome movies, and scary costumes.
Lots of churches today use Halloween as a way to reach people in the community with fall festivals and fun activities for kids on or around Halloween night. I think that’s a great idea, and love participating in our church’s fall festival every year. We live way out in the country, so we don’t really have trick-or-treaters come to our house. We give out candy at our church’s trunk-or-treat event instead.
While the spooky side of Halloween might not be my favorite, I actually do enjoy the fun kid’s events that the holiday brings. The older I get, the more I realize that eleven-year-old me might have had the wrong idea about what it actually means to be in the world, but not of the world. I think sometimes, Christians use that phrase as an excuse to not go into the world and share God’s love with others, which is what we are called to do as believers. We are supposed to be set apart from the world, but we can’t hide in our houses and churches all the time and never interact with people. If we do that, how will they ever learn about Jesus?
I wanted to take some time this month to focus on how we can reach out to others and form those relationships and even use a holiday like Halloween to shine for Christ. I asked my friend, Lauren, who is a pastor’s wife in Southern California, to give me some insight on this from the point-of-view of someone in the ministry. Here’s what she had to say about making Halloween an outreach:
In the age of social media, drive-thrus, and Uber eats, our interaction with people is limited more than ever. We live in a “microwave” society. We want to get things done as quickly as possible. Some call it efficiency. However, sometimes in our haste to just get things done, we loose something along the way.
In my opinion, an area that this has greatly affected is our relationships. The art of neighboring is quickly becoming a thing of the past. All of these time saving processes have led us to actually spending less time face to face with those around us. We need to take time to slow down and intentionally get to know those around us.
This is definitely a work in process for me and my family. One of my favorite times to do this is on Halloween. Think about it, what other day of the year are you able to see families from all around your neighborhood out and about? And more than that, it is completely normal and expected to talk to them!
Our family has fully embraced this holiday over the past few years. We set up a table in our front yard and have deep fried Oreos, hot chocolate, bottled water, candy, and even a TV with a movie playing. A couple of years ago, the Dodgers were in game 7 of a playoff game on Halloween night. Since we live in Southern California, we decided to have the game playing that night. So many people stopped and watched a few minutes of the game that night while their kids grabbed some candy.
This holiday has given us the perfect opportunity to build relationships with people in our community. Sometimes, they are people who we already know but don’t see often. This gives us a chance to catch up with them. Other times, they are people we may have not seen since Halloween the previous year. But every year, we get a little more comfortable with them.
Why is building relationships so important? I believe with my whole heart that God has placed us in our house, neighborhood, and community for a purpose. There are people who don’t know Jesus as their Savior who can see our family shine our light for Him. Matthew 5:13-16 says “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We are called to constantly point people to Jesus. How can we do that if we don’t know the people God has put around us?
Being intentional with those around us doesn’t have to be an addition or burden to our schedule. We take something we are already doing (giving out candy on Halloween night) and intentionally think about how we can point others to Jesus while doing that!
I love Lauren’s take on how to make this holiday an outreach! How fun does it sound to make your home the gathering place for your community on Halloween night so you get an opportunity to actually talk to people and get to know them?
If you’re looking for more ideas on ways to give back to your community and serve others during this time of year, check out this post by Heather from My Life Well Loved. She’s one of my favorite bloggers to follow on Instagram and created a really cute printable packet with ideas for service projects and fun activities for kids to get involved in giving back.