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Halloween: an opportunity for hospitality image

Halloween: an opportunity for hospitality

Tips for moving from afraid and awkward to generous and welcoming.

It’s nearly that time of year again … Halloween! The season for ghosts, ghouls and zombies arriving on your doorstep in search of chocolate. Which is worse—the prospect of a ‘trick’ or the peculiar experience of trying to make polite conversation with a six-year-old monster, with fake, plastic teeth? The experience is made even more awkward if they’re accompanied by a Mum in tight-fitting black lycra and spooky make-up.

It doesn’t need to be like this. We can do better than hiding at the back of the house with the lights out for the whole of Halloween evening! Over the years, I’ve come to see that Halloween is a great opportunity to show genuine Christian love to my community.

We will each want to consider how we respond in practice, but let me suggest three general attitudes that are appropriate for Christians as we think about Halloween.

1.    Don’t be afraid

As Christians, we don’t need to be afraid of Halloween. We may have reasons not to celebrate it, but we’re not scared of it. Whenever Jesus met the devil or evil spirits, he won. On the cross, he broke Satan’s power of condemnation and death over his people (Hebrews 2:14–15). And he drives out Satan from our lives and sends in his Holy Spirit so that believers can no longer be possessed by demons. Those in Christ are safe. This Halloween, let’s remember to thank God for Jesus’ victory over death and every kind of evil.

We can share this confidence with our children by taking them to the Bible stories that show Jesus meeting the devil or evil spirits. For instance, Jesus being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1–11) or healing a demon-possessed man (Mark 5:1–20). Sometimes, these stories are avoided in children’s Bibles, so you may need to read from an adult Bible and simplify the language for your child.

2.    Be gentle

Very, very few of the people we know think of Halloween as anything more than a bit of harmless fun. Most of those who dress up, go to parties or knock on our doors are children who don’t know better. We can be gentle in how we approach those who are celebrating Halloween.

When our own children are invited to Halloween parties or they ask to go ‘trick or treating’, we have an opportunity to talk to them first about what Halloween is about. If we choose not to let them join in with what their friends are doing, let’s make sure they are able to explain why they won’t be doing it, in a way that’s respectful and loving. 

3.    Be generous

It’s great that the children in our communities want to visit us (even if it is only for the sweets!). Just for one evening, we fleetingly have a taste of the happy, warm, hospitable neighbourhoods that we crave. Let’s be generous and welcoming, so that other people’s children go on their way feeling pleased that they knocked on our door. For example …

•    Take the time to carve a pumpkin, put a light inside it and display it outside. In some places, this seems to have become the code for, ‘Trick-or-treat-ers are welcome here’. Alternatively, you could put some orange and black balloons or a ‘Welcome’ sign outside your house.
•    Stock up on sweets and chocolate to give away (and save some for your own children!).
•    Consider giving out copies of a gentle, age-appropriate tract that introduces children to Jesus, such as these ones written for ages 6–12 from The Good Book Company
•    Introduce yourself. Say hello. Congratulate the children on their costumes. Thank them for coming. Don’t forget to smile!
•    Some churches hold alternative events, such as ‘Light parties’ or ‘Pumpkin parties’. These make it clear that we’re not against having fun; we just choose carefully what to celebrate. This can be a great way for your church to welcome local children by inviting them to a really enjoyable event.

It would be great if those who knock on our doors this Halloween don’t knock in vain. They might leave saying, ‘I’m not sure why Christians keep going on about Jesus, but they do seem to be friendly, generous and happy!’ I’d certainly venture out of the dark gloom of my kitchen for that.
Ed Drew is the Director of Faith in Kids, which exists to see confident parents and thriving churches raising children together to trust Jesus eternally. He is the host of their two podcast streams for parents and families and the author of The Adventure of Christmas, a book of family Bible times with an Advent Calendar.


Jesus Calms the Storm

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