The Pulpit and Halloween
With the commercialization of Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, you’d think non-Christian holidays would be easy to skip. But dates like Valentine’s Day and Halloween unfortunately demand some treatment by the church. Either we ignore them, embrace them or sidestep them, but that decision will have a consequence no matter which path we choose as church leaders.
Halloween looks like it would be a slam dunk. Ghosts, zombies and the occult, pagan origins and an evening of pranks. Obviously the church should not only distance herself from Halloween, we should send flyers condemning it. Except, we have in many cases dozens of families with children who are going to participate, going to dress up and are going door to door to get their annual fill of candy. And moms and dads who don’t want to be the only house in the neighborhood with their lights off in protest, are going to make the requisite trip to Wal-Mart for a few bags of goodies and stand at the foyer to hand them out to trick-or-treaters. So, what’s a pastor to do?
Condemning Halloween from the pulpit is a futile exercise, much like Don Quixote and his windmills. Instead, use the Halloween as an opportunity for education. Give the church some background on the origins and talk about how the holiday is viewed from a Christian perspective. Families in this instance, often seeing “no harm” in the activities, will decide for themselves what is appropriate. Arming them with knowledge is the most practical way to assist in the process.
Many churches embrace Halloween in a fashion with a “Fall Festival” or “Trunk or Treat” or other similar event held at the church to draw in area families. The outreach aspects of these events can be tremendous. I live in the Atlanta metro area and several larger churches do these events and welcome literally thousands of guests to their campuses. This is a great opportunity to show the church’s ministries for preschoolers and children, as well as sports and recreational ministries. All of these can draw in new families to experience what your church has to offer.
Okay, so “Fall Festival” is a thinly-disguised veil for “Halloween night at the church”. But the point is that the church does not circle the wagons around a losing issue with families, nor does it ignore the night entirely. Instead, a “Fall Festival” tries to make lemonade from lemons. From the pulpit, an educational approach and a focus toward community outreach compliments this view.
Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.