Halloween is just around the corner. I'm not sure what your stance is on Halloween. I know some families who stay away from it completely. They shut the lights out and pretend their not home. (I did that once.) I also know Christian families who do go out.
As my children were getting to the "Trick-or-Treating" age, I wrested with this topic. We are a Christian family. Would it be wrong for me to dress my kids up and go door-to-door for candy? Could I take part in this night and not have my faith questioned? What would people think?
These are all the questions that went through my mind as I thought and prayed about it. I knew there had to be a way to take part in the tradition of Halloween without my credibility as a Christian being questioned. That may sound strange but there are some hard core Christians out there who are fully against celebrating Halloween. I say to each his own, or more accurately, you have to do what God is telling you for your family.
I live by the philosophy of being "in" the world but not "of" the world. That means that I will live on this earth, but my heart and my actions will always belong to God. I can do things within the boundaries set for me by God through His Word. If all Christians were to hide from the things of this world, who would share God's truth? If we stay in our own "Christian Safe Zone" how will people see God's light through us? Does this make sense? Don't get me wrong, there are definite things we should not do (just read the 10 commandments, among other things). However, there are also things that we should be doing to share God's truth.
Wow! I just wanted to share this book with you and now I feel like I am babbling. So, I'll get right to the point of this post...
In doing some research on the origins of Halloween, I found the book called, "Redeeming Halloween." I like this book because it gives you a background into Halloween and into some of the traditions, like pumpkin carving. It's full of ideas for bringing Christ into Halloween. If we look hard enough, there are always ways to bring Christ into all situations. We just have to be creative.
Below is an outline of parts of the book. For more details, pick up a copy for yourself and see what else you can find.
Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Purpose:
- Start planning for the trick-or-treat experience so that your children will gain the greatest benefit from the evening.
- Brainstorm as a family the places and people where the gospel has been rejected. Be sure to allow the kids to offer as many ideas as they can. This time is important because if they already have an idea how they would like to dress, it opens their thoughts to the need around the world.
- Let them share their ideas for costumes. If they have several, make a list and spend some time talking about how a costume could look.
- Keep an open mind! Even dressing as a sea creature could represent sailors and fishermen. They will enjoy the entire experience more if you allow them freedom to be creative. Remember, having fun is a legitimate goal and an important part of celebrating.
- Once they have chosen a costume idea, talk more specifically about the people being represented.
- Do some research together about the people your children’s costumes represent. If they are from another country or culture, locate it on a map. Find out about customs, religious practices, and any other things that are distinctive to the group. Remind them that to reach someone, it is necessary to understand them.
- Talk about how people who have not accepted Jesus have been “tricked” into believing they don’t need Him, but that God wants them to receive the greatest “treat,” salvation through Jesus and eternal life in heaven.
- Make a list of some specific ways that your children can pray for that group of people to be prepared to hear the gospel. Include asking God to send workers into that mission field.
- Each night for a week before or after Halloween, pray with your children for their chosen country, people, group, or culture.
- Look together at Jesus’ commission given to us in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
- On Halloween night, as you prepare to send your children out to trick-or-treat, be sure to go over safety rules and accompany them from house to house.
- Remind them to say thank you at each place you visit. Have a great time enjoying a fun experience with your children that will result in spiritual training as well.
- After they arrive home with an abundance of candy, finish the night with a Scripture verse that promises sweet rewards for those who do God’s work on earth (ie. Luke 12:43 or Romans 10:15).
- Help your children see that while trick-or-treating can be a fun time one night a year, following God and sharing the good news of Jesus is an adventure that lasts a whole lifetime.
- Finish your trick-or-treat night with a prayer as you tuck them into bed. Thank God that someone told you about Jesus, and ask Him to use your family to do the same.
Tips for Pumpkin Carving:
- Be like a Halloween Pumpkin: a source of light on a dark night. As your family transforms a pumpkin into a decorative lantern, use the process to teach how we ourselves can be a better light source.
- Cutting open the top: Have the mind of Christ to think and act as He would (I Corinthians 2:16)
- Cleaning out the seeds: Confess your sins so God can clean them out (I John 1:9).
- Carving new eyes: Instead of looking for the faults of others, use your eyes to examine your own faults first (Matthew 7:3-5)
- Carving a nose: Don’t be a proud person with your nose in the air or you will be the cause of many arguments (Proverbs 13:10)
- Carving ears: Listen to gain knowledge and tune your ears to wisdom from others (Proverbs 23:12).
- Carving a mouth: Let your words be sweet so that they will bless others (Proverbs 16:24).
- Lighting the candle: When you try to think, act, see, listen, and speak as Christ, then “our whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you” (Luke 11:36)
- You can give this devotion to your family using a ready-made pumpkin that you prepare beforehand. Just replace all of the cutouts and remove them one by one at the appropriate time in your presentation. You could even draw the face on with a permanent marker instead of cutting it out.
Use the carving process to share the gospel:
- Cut the pumpkin open and reveal the mess inside: No matter how our life looks on the outside, our life is really a mess and hopeless without God because of our sin (Romans 3:23).
- Turn the pumpkin upside down and try to shake out the mess: We can’t get rid of our own sin. Just as a pumpkin will rot and be left useless as it is, left with our sin, we will also face ruin (Romans 6:23).
- The pumpkin is helpless to take it’s own mess away and needs our help: We are helpless to take our sin away and we need help too (Romans 5:6-8).
- Remove the seeds and slime from the inside of the pumpkin: God sent Jesus to do what we couldn’t, take away our sins (Romans 10:9)
- Show the clean and empty pumpkin: Once the mess has been taken away, a new space has been created for something better (Ephesians 4:22-32).
- Cut a joyful face in the pumpkin: Joy is one of the first things that God uses to fill that empty space (Romans 15:13).
- Place a candle inside the pumpkin and light it: Now our lives are a place where God lives, and when we obey Him, the light of His goodness shines through us (John 8:12).
- Set newly carved pumpkin next to an uncarved one: When we trust Jesus to take away our sins, He makes us into a whole new creature, full of joy and light (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Set your pumpkin out for all to see, but as you do, tell your children that the pumpkin will eventually rot and perish: Those with the real light of Christ, though, will never perish, because we have eternal life (John 3:16).
Tips for Decorating with Light:
Decorating is an important part of any seasonal celebration. It sets the mood, symbolically communicates a message, and adds some plain old fun. Like nativities at Christmastime, we can use lights at Halloween to testify to a needy world. We’ve listed several ideas to help light up your neighborhood, so go for it! But be aware: Decorating is “coming out of the closet” as far as October 31st is concerned. You may just get the opportunity to explain why you chose to celebrate a holy Halloween.
Ways to Light Your Home:
· A great way to make an impact with light on Halloween is to string white Christmas lights on your house during October. Your home will stand in stark contrast to the dimness of others around you.
· Make luminaries to line your walkway or drive. This is a simple and inexpensive way to light up your entryway.
· Buy brown or white paper lunch bags.
· Fill the bottom of each bag with two inches of sand (or kitty litter).
· Place a small candle in the sand and light it at night.
· You can also use a hole punch or scissors to make crosses or other designs in the paper bag so that the light will illuminate the design. You could even write a letter on each bag to spell messages of hope.
Ways to Make Your Home a “Light”:
Banners are another way to bring light to your neighborhood. Just as many churches create banners for special services, your family can work together to create a banner to display during Halloween. Even if you don’t sew, you can still create a masterpiece.
· Choose a phrase from Scripture that gives the message you want to communicate. Some examples are: “Jesus, the Light of the World”; “Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star”; “Perfect Love Casts Out Fear”.
· Make a wreath for your front door that uses wheat and other harvest items. Display on the wreath the following verse: “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:20).
· Since the harvest theme is so closely associated with the true message of Halloween, you may want to decorate with items such as hay bales, scarecrows, or pumpkins. We recommend that if you go this way you distinguish your decorations from those using harvest items as an alternative to Halloween by also displaying “harvest” verses with your decorations such as John 4:35, Matthew 9:37, or Luke 10:2.
Tips for Welcoming Trick-or-Treaters:
Whether your family participates in trick-or treating or not, have a lights-on policy. Notes that ask your neighbors no to know because you don’t “do” Halloween, no matter how kindly worded, leave others feeling judged.
The treats you give out say a great deal about your family to the kids who knock on your door. Just like we used to do, they all go home and talk about who offered the best stuff. It is part of the whole experience, like trading candy with your brothers and sisters to get what you really want. When deciding what treats you will give out, consider these options:
· Be known as a generous giver. Give the best candy bars on the block, not the least you can get away with. It will make more of an impression than you can imagine.
· If you want to offer a spiritual treat, make sure it is accompanied by a sweet treat. The last thing you want is to give something spiritual and have the first response be disappointment.
· One way to give something spiritual along with something sweet is to use your computer to make candy-bar wrappers with a Bible message. Design and print a message on colorful paper, wrap the candy around the normal wrapper, and secure it with tape or a glue stick. A sample message might be: “Taste and see that the Lord is god.” (Psalm 34:8); or “How sweet are God’s words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).
· If you have many trick-or-treaters who are not from your neighborhood, you may not have the opportunity to follow up by fostering a personal relationship. In this case, you may want to give out children’s gospel tracts.
· If your budget allows, one great giveaway is Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey audio tapes. You can often find them at your local Christian bookstore packaged as single tapes at a low promotional price.
· As you fill your jars with candy and turn on the lights, take time to pray as a family for all those who will come to your door. Ask God to five you just the right words for each person you greet and to use the night to prepare the way for building relationships in which you can share His love.
· Get into the spirit of the celebration. Greet your visitors dressed in costume, even if it’s a silly hat or painted-on mustache.
· Lock up any pets that might cause problems.
Making the Most of Opportunities with Children:
· Be outside on the porch, if possible.
· Greet the kids with words that let them know they are truly welcome. For example say, “We’re so glad you came to our house.”
· Show interest by asking about their costumes.
· Ask their names, and try to make a mental note to remember them in the future.
Making the Most of Opportunities with Parents:
· Weather permitting, have a treat for the parents as well. If it’s cold, have coffee and tea in paper cups. If it’s warm, have bottled water in an ice chest. Have a bowl of mints.
· Introduce yourself to the parents, and ask where they live.
· If you know anything at all about them (where they work, what kind of dog they have, etc.) show interest, but keep it brief, as kids will be anxious to get to the next house.
· Before parting, let them know how pleased you were to meet them and express interest in seeing them again.
Keeping the Door Open:
· If your memory needs a little help, make a mental note of the names of the neighbors you meet.
· Begin to pray for those families by name.
· Ask God to give you natural opportunities to build on your Halloween introductions.
· Watch to see where God is working.
· Slow down and take advantage of little opportunities. When you see a neighbor mowing the lawn or walking the dog, take a few minutes to say hello.
· Invite a mom over for coffee, or ask a dad for a helping hand with a home project.
· If there are children your kids could get to know, call and invite them over to play, and tell them they can bring their parents too!
· Be prepared! If you sincerely want to reach out to others with the love of God in your own neighborhood, God will faithfully give you many opportunities.
Other great ideas from the book:
Communicating the Message
· Seasonal Movie Night (p 48)
· Host an Underground Church Party (p 55)
· Doors of Opportunity (p 65)
· Host a Fear-Not Party (p 76)
· Fill-in-the Gap Party (p 83)
· Tricky Treaters (p 91)
Commemorating the Faithful
· Harvest Boxes (p 107)
· Heroes (p 115)
· All Saints’ Day (p 123)
· P-R-A-Y on the IDOP (p 141)
I hope you've gotten some really great ideas from this book. There's much more to it, so check it out if you get the chance.
What is your favorite thing about Halloween?
Thanks for stopping by,