How to Show God’s Love on Halloween

10 Practical Ways to Show God’s Love

As a follow up to my last post (Should Christians Participate in Halloween), I’d like to share some practical ways we can show God’s love on Halloween.  I know, some Christians still aren’t too sure on the idea of participating in Halloween.  That said, we should all be desiring to show God’s love, no matter what day or event.

halloween-gods-love

Here are 10 practical ways we can show God’s love on Halloween:

1. Put some love in your treats.

Whether you simply give out a small bag of chips to each child, pack small baggies of treats, or are planning for a big party, you can put “love” into your treats.  I don’t want to over spiritualize this, but why not pray over the treats you give out.  Make it a family event and instill the importance of God’s love on whoever will eventually receive the candy.  You’re view of Halloween may actually change when you ask God to be a part of it.

At Bethel, we make a night of it. Several volunteers help pack the treat bags.  And yes, we take the time to pray over the whole process.

2. Include an encouraging verse.

There’s no need to preach at people or “scare” them into the Kingdom.  An encouraging verse, however, can provide some powerful hope on a potentially scary and dark night.  That verse might be the only positive and spiritual guidance they receive all night!  Make it count! An encouraging verse can provide some powerful hope on a potentially scary night. #ReclaimOct31 Click To Tweet

In that past, we’ve used verses like:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, NIV)

3. Decorate with joy, not horror.

No matter the era, fear has always been a major part of Halloween.  Don’t let your house or ministry location build on fear.  Instead, decorate with joy!  Remove the skull and add a fun pumpkin.

My wife loves to have the entrance decorated in some fun way.  She doesn’t spend a lot of money, but the kids that know us love to come in a see the “fun pastor’s house.”

4. Play some fun music, not “pee you pants” scary music.

I remember, as a kid, not wanting to go to certain homes.  I’m convinced it had to do with the creepy music.  Just like music has the ability to warmly welcome people into worship on Sunday morning, the right Christian music playing on Halloween can invite people to participate in a God-centered Halloween.

5. Pray.

It can’t get much simpler than that.  Pray for the safety of the children, teens and parents that are outside.  Pray for each kid that knocks on your door.  Pray for each parent that has to console a child who was legitimately scared because of a Halloween display that night.  Prayer works, so do it!

6. Smile.

Kids know when you’re grumpy.  Christians have the fruit of the spirit growing in them – “grumpy” isn’t a fruit.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control are – in case you didn’t know (Galatians 5:22).  When you encounter someone this Halloween, give them a smile.  It could go a long way!

7. Make kids feel special.

Make kids feel special and you'll make a positive impact on their parents as well! #ReclaimOct31 Click To TweetNothing makes me happier than watching an adult make my little girl feel special.  How do they do that?  They squat down on their level and point out something special or ask them questions.  They might say, “I like your hat,” or “You have pretty eyes.”  Or they may ask, “What’s your name,” or “What are you dressed up as?”  If you make kids feel special, you’ll make a positive impact on their parents as well!

8. Offer something for the family – like FREE Hot Chocolate!

It’s about the kids, I know, but what about stepping outside the box?  In our area, it can be quite cold on October 31, so we offer free Hot Chocolate to the kids and parents.  I think the parents might enjoy it more than the kids.  Either way, it creates community and often some great conversation.

9. Dress up.

Yes, that’s right – put on a costume.  There’s nothing wrong with dressing up.  I grew up watching Mr. Dressup and loved every minute of it!  Dress up as something silly and fun (avoid clowns) and kids will remember you every year!  We often pick a theme as a family and dress up together.  Ok, that might be driven by my wife.  Either way, at the end of the day, it’s worth it!

10. Reclaim October 31 for Jesus!

Let’s reclaim October 31 for Jesus!  I’m going to put out the challenge – post on social media how you are showing God’s love and reclaiming Halloween for Jesus. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ReclaimOct31!Let's reclaim Oct 31 for Jesus! Post how you're showing God's love on Halloween by using #ReclaimOct31 Click To Tweet

The enemy isn’t going to like this, so we’ll need to work together!

Feel free to comment on this post as well and share your ideas!  I would love to see what you’re doing and celebrate the positive impact with you!

Your turn…

How have you shown God’s love on Halloween?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Should Christians Participate in Halloween?

Finding the Balance between Distraction and Opportunity

Most Christians have already made up their mind on this issue.  Halloween is either a good thing or a bad thing.

halloween-participate

I’m not sure if the answer is as simple that either good or bad.  In order to live in the world and be witnesses of Christ, we should be identifying the balance between distraction and opportunity.

Halloween as a Distraction

Halloween isn’t the devil’s birthday (as some have suggested), but its history isn’t very holy either.

The Druids celebrated year-end on October 31st. They believed the dead returned as ghosts, were able to predict the future, and otherwise connect with the dead. It was definitely a dark and evil night. It would be difficult to argue otherwise.

It wasn’t long before the Catholic Church moved their celebration of martyrs (All Saints Day) to November 1st and remembering the dead (All Souls Day) to November 2nd.  It’s amazing that many don’t know much about either of these celebrations.

As history unfolded, and cultures collided, All-Hallows-Eve (October 31st) turned into Halloween. With that, came traditions like the poor asking for food and money in return for praying for their dead relatives (eventually known as “trick-or-treating”), and dressing up like ghosts so the “real” ghosts would leave them alone.  There are many other traditions, but the point is, they have transformed over the centuries.1

While we can make connections to today’s traditions, there is such a disconnect between what Halloween is today and what it was in the past.

With that said, that doesn’t mean we can’t be distracted by it all. As each year progresses, the amount of time and money spent on Halloween is unreal.  In the U.S. alone it was estimated people spent $6.9 billion on Halloween in 2015.2

People decorate weeks in advance, and sometimes just as much as Christmas. Is there anything wrong with that? If it’s a distraction, then yes!  If it leads to an opportunity, then maybe no.  As Paul wrote, “I have the right to do anything…but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

The biggest distraction with Halloween is attempting to make “fear” a good thing.The biggest distraction with #Halloween is attempting to make FEAR a good thing. Click To Tweet

The reason why so many of these traditions begun in the first place, was because of fear.  If we promote or otherwise encourage “fear” we diminish Paul’s words: “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

As Christians, we need to make sure we don’t jump on the “fear” bandwagon.  We need to let everyone around us know that our God is all about hope and love, not uncertainly and fear.

If we find ourselves putting fear in people, we may be distracting ourselves and others from the gospel.  After all, we are His witnesses.

Halloween as an Opportunity

If Jesus was a homeowner today, how would he respond? If Jesus was advising our families, what would he say? It’s difficult to ignore Jesus’ response to children. I can’t think of a time when Jesus told children to go away.  I can only remember him saying, “let the children come to me…” (Luke 18:16)

I picture Jesus kneeling & looking at the vampire saying, 'You might look scary, but God loves you!' Click To TweetI can picture Jesus answering the door with a smile, as a bunch of kids scream “trick or treat!?” I picture Him kneeling down to get on their level, and complimenting the little princess’ hair, giving a fist-pound to superman, and looking at the vampire and saying, “You might look scary, but God loves you too!”

So, we have to ask ourselves, do we allow for godly opportunities even when culture might be pushing the tradition in another direction?  How will we respond when neighbourhood kids knock on our door?

At Bethel we do a “Halloween Ministry” every year. It looks like “Halloween” just enough so families recognize they’re invited, but different enough so that they recognize God’s love.

We light up the street corner by our building, play Christian music, give away Hot Chocolate, and of course a bag of treats with an encouraging verse inside and promo for our ministries.  And probably my favourite part: our 50+ ministry dress up in fun costumes to serve those who drop by!

Since starting this ministry, we have met so many people, and had numerous conversations that we would not have had otherwise.

So What Do We Do?

  • Reclaim October 31st for Jesus!

We don’t want to “Christianize” Halloween, but redefine Halloween.  Every day is God’s and darkness is no match for the light of the gospel.  Participate in a new way and reclaim a dark night.

  • Don’t ignore the possible distractions or opportunities.

Reclaim Oct 31; don't ignore distractions/opportunities; build hope, not fear; be a witness for Christ! Click To TweetIt’s easy to run in one direction or the other: it’s all bad, or there’s nothing to it.  There are clear distractions and clear opportunities.  Don’t ignore them.

  • Build hope, not fear.

There is nothing Christian about fear.  Instead of removing ourselves from the night, spread hope.  Instead of jumping in and “innocently” scaring children, surprise them with love.

  • Remember to be a witness for Him!

We are Jesus’ witnesses and we must point to Him.  When children knock on our door we have the opportunity to welcome them and show them God’s love through our witness.  We also must remember not to be distracted by the potential unprofitable activity that doesn’t bear witness to Christ.

Click here for more ways we can show God’s love on Halloween.

Your turn…

How do you feel about Halloween?  Is it a distraction or opportunity?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Halloween: Be a Light!

Every year the kids of our streets, neighborhoods, and cities go door to door asking the famous phrase: “trick or treat?”  If you live in North America, no matter what background you come from, you’ve at least witnessed the evening of October 31.  I grew up in a Christian home and we were always allowed to dress up and take part in this somewhat silly tradition.  That said, there was always a sense of the “unknown.”  What kind of costumes can we wear?  Do we take part in the “church Halloween party” or go door-to-door?  My brother and I definitely dressed up and had fun doing so, but let’s just say we were “seriously” encouraged to be a clown before a vampire.

halloween

Depending on your background, you may be reading this and think we were deprived children.  After all, Halloween is only a silly little tradition of dressing up and getting candy.  It’s true, the evil origins of Halloween are long forgotten, and the occasion is no different from any other retail-boosting, consumeristic date on the calendar. As I got older, however, I noticed something about Halloween – it’s still built on fear.

Fear is hardly a good thing.  A healthy fear (also known as “respect”) certainly has its benefits, but genuine fear leads to unhealthy discomfort, distrust, anxiety and worry.  As a Christian, I’m called to give those feelings over to God and He’ll take care of me (Psalm 55:22).  Why then, would I want to play on the fears of others?

The answer may be confusing, but here’s just a brief background to the Halloween we know today:

“All Hallows Eve”, “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day”

Traditionally, October 31 has been known as “All Hallows Eve.” Hallow means “to make holy.”  The day points towards “All Saint’s Day” on November 1 – a day with feasts and celebrations in honour of all the saints.  November 2 follows as “All Souls Day” – a day specifically for those who believe in purgatory by where prayers are raised for every soul.  These three days have been traditionally a three-day celebration of those who have gone before us.i

Celtics and the Druids

Before converting to Christianity in Europe, the Druids had their New Year’s celebrations on the same dates.  It was believed that the souls of the dead could return home for a night, only to be kept away by sacrifices, feasts, dressing like them to appear to be one of them, or by using a jack-o-lantern (which would scare away evil spirits and provide a light).ii

Transition to Today…

In the centuries of development and transition, October 31 has become something very different.  We now call the evening “Halloween,” which literally means: “the evening of becoming holy (saints)”; and yet, socially means: “dress up in scary and/or fun costumes and hope to get as much candy as possible.”  While there are many evil traditions that have brought fear into October 31, the desire to have a protecting light’ seems to have always been present.

Salt and Light (Matthew 5)

Jesus refers to his followers as the “salt” and “light” of the earth.iii  In a night that is still heavily based on fear, Jesus calls His followers to be the “salt” and the “light.”  Jesus expects his followers to live out the life they have received and shine a light on the ultimate protecting light – Jesus Christ.

How can we be the “salt” and the “light” on Halloween?

Our church pondered this a couple of years ago, and came to this conclusion – “be light in a dark night!”  Here are some of the ways our church has taken action:

  1. Welcome kids

On the night when nearly every child in the community will come knocking on your door, I can’t imagine Jesus advising us not share His love and compassion.  After all, Jesus did say, “let the little children come to me…”iv  So don’t turn off your lights and lock your doors on Halloween.  Instead, meet every child with simile.  Be a light in a dark night.

  1. Share God’s love

You don’t have to literally witness to every child that asks, “trick or treat?”  But you can share God’s love by being warm and not fearful, by complementing their costume, or by squatting down to meet them in the eye and say, “have a fun and safe night!”  You can be a light in a dark night.

  1. Go Trick-or-Treating

What better way to show others how God has impacted your life, than by having fun and potentially diffusing the “fear” that’s normally visible.  Dress up as your favorite cartoon character, super hero, or maybe a household object like a lamp.  Have fun and be a light in a dark night.

  1. Meet a Need

Some towns have a Pumpkin Patrol by where adults volunteer to supervise the streets and to make sure kids stay safe.  Every year, our church gives out bags of candy, pop, chips and bars and offers free hot chocolate to all the parents.  It’s amazing how many chilly parents appreciate a warm beverage as their kids try to fill their pillow cases with candy!

Yes, some will still participate in devilish activities; yes, some will dress up in evil characters; and, yes, some will even play on the fears of others.  But it’s because of all of those things that make Halloween such a great opportunity to be a light.  Jesus is waiting for His followers to be the salt (something worth following) and to be a light (shining towards Jesus).  By welcoming kids, sharing God’s love, participating as a light, and meeting some simple needs on Halloween, we can be a light in a dark night.

Your turn:

How will you be a light on Halloween?


[i] “Celebrating Halloween, All Saints”, AmericanCatholic.org, accessed October 28, 2015, http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Halloween/halloween08.asp.
[ii] “Halloween: It’s Origins and Celebration.” EWTN, accessed October 28, 2015, http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/hallween.htm.
[iii] Mathew 5:13-16.
[iv] Matthew 19:14.