I’ve been driving by church signs and banners all week advertising different forms of treats and candy at their church, a large majority of them being on Halloween and most of them being at other times.
The pendulum may swing back again at some point, but for now, instead of running around worried about whether the church should celebrate Halloween, we have skirted the issue by serving the community! We’re not celebrating Halloween, we’re celebrating a unique time in our culture when probably the second largest unchurched crowd we have in our church building all year is Halloween.
We’re celebrating the fact that for whatever reason, families will walk right into our church building or parking lot on Halloween night and we have a chance to love them and get connected. For whatever reason, the culture has come to a point that If you want to get a load of treats in a safe and friendly, trusted environment, millions of families will be turning to the church on Halloween night! What a hoot… who would have thought?
Our church is doing something called Tent and Treat this year. Up until last year, along with the rest of the countryside, we did Trunk or Treat. Then last year it rained and we moved indoors. One person set up a canopy tent in our Family Life Center and kids were drawn to it like bugs to a light. So, we decided to just keep the event indoors and change the name to Tent and Treat.
It’s still the same concept – church people coming together to hand out candy and generously love our community. It’s good for witness – people get to come, invite friends, and be in the midst of the church at the building (or where ever the event is set up). There a ton of power in the church being a part of the community in this way. Last year, for example, there were nearly 600 people that walked through the Family Life Center!
The idea of families going to one or two strategic locations is becoming popular. Even on Halloween there is caution and concern in going door to door. Additionally, families are becoming more protective of what children eat – there are so many issues related to allergies, sugar and health for kids these days. So, the church has stepped in and provided a trusted place for games, treats and fun. Over the years it’s transitioned from a Church VS Halloween to the church using Halloween as a tool. I like that.
It seems strange to cancel church services because of Halloween and that’s how our church began doing Trunk or Treat. Several years back Halloween fell on Wednesday and though we had some fun stuff planned for children’s ministry and such, there were only eight people in attendance at our two decade strong Wednesday night meal and worship ministry. The next time Halloween landed on Wednesday night, we used it as an opportunity.
Some people might see this is as a case as “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” But I see it as using whatever means are at our disposal to share the Love of Christ. There’s no escaping the power of the church! Salt and light is her nature. Communities are grateful to have churches – whether they know it or not! And the church is standing up at a time when people are looking for something more – and though candy doesn’t connect a soul to Christ, it’s a seed! And we are praying for a harvest this Halloween.