I have so much fun with my kids – dressing up, seeing who gets the most candy, eating all of said candy. I love all of it. But I’m not ignorant of the fact that it’s a holiday that can have negative connotations to it.
This year Halloween falls on a Wednesday, which means many churches will be faced with the conundrum of whether to do Wednesday night programming as usual, cancel programming altogether, or create something unique to help their congregations celebrate the holiday in healthy ways.
For my church and my family, we go with option three. My family doesn’t do store-bought costumes – we create our own. And we have a blast in our neighborhood going door to door, welcoming trick-or-treaters at our house, taking pictures with each other and creating memories by just being together. That’s my absolute favorite thing about Halloween. It’s a taste of what our neighborhoods would be like if we intentionally neighbor-ed well.
So how does the Church leverage this holiday into goodwill? How can we use the natural rhythm of the year and bring value to our communities? Here are four ways your church can reach people during this Halloween holiday:
1. Be home. Don’t plan events on the actual date of Oct. 31. Think about it – what other day will your entire neighborhood come to your door? Zero of the other days! Be home, Christian! Participate. Decorate. Dress up. Hand out the best candy! Be where the people are and have some fun with your neighbors. What a great opportunity to leave a good impression, which can help you have deeper conversations with your neighbors later when the Holy Spirit creates those opportunities.
2. Create a “Trunk or Treat” event. Plan a Trunk or Treat event for the Sunday before Halloween – Oct. 28. You’ll have a better turnout on Sunday later afternoon or early evening than you will on Wednesday night because families want to trick-or-treat and visit families for pictures on the actual Halloween night. Additional Halloween events add value to the community by giving families more (and safe) opportunities to dress up and have fun.
3. Throw a block party. Block Parties are done well when the church hosts pre-K kids while the neighbors go all out in decorating a fun road for older kids. It’s so much fun, it’s easy, it’s safe and the community sees a fun-loving church. I’ve seen a church make a huge impact this way. In fact, the relationships that were rekindled through that one event are still going strong today.
4. Just Do Something. The Church can’t and shouldn’t expect people to just show up. We have to go to them (which is what Jesus told us to do anyway), and Halloween is one of those natural waves or rhythms built into our culture that the Church can use to create goodwill within its communities. You don’t have to put on the biggest or coolest show. You don’t need to throw the party of the year. You just need to show up, be a part of the community, laugh, have fun and give away some candy. It’s OK to open your door and leave your light on for Halloween.
Joe Smith is a veteran of youth ministry, having served as lead youth minister in multiple churches over the past 20 years. He's also served as a senior minister and preaching minister of churches in Florida, and currently serves on the ministry staff at Shift Church in Gainesville. To contact Joe, send emails to email@example.com.