We are only a couple of days away from that secular holiday called Halloween. This holiday in particular can cause a lot of confusion by Christians. It causes confusion in regards to how Christians, who believe in God can, celebrate a holiday that seems to celebrate demons, which are the sworn enemy of Christians everywhere.
Some Christians take the extreme position of refusing to celebrate the holiday and will go into semi-hiding mode when this holiday rolls around. Other Christians take the other end of the spectrum and celebrate the holiday fully just like any non-Christian would.
How should Christians handle the Halloween holiday?
God does give us some direction through the Bible when dealing with this question. Here are some verses I think can help us out:
Genesis 3:1 (NIV)
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Matthew 4:1 (NIV)
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 6:13 (NIV)
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Luke 8:12 (NIV)
12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
There is no doubt that the devil is a force that needs to be reckoned with. As Christians, we should pray daily to God for protection from the evil one. The enemy does exist and he will take every opportunity to devour us. The devil will find our own weaknesses and try to exploit them. The devil does whatever he can to try to stop the advancement of the gospel in our world.
When it comes to the idea of demons, I think it is best to avoid the extremes, believing too much or too little in the demonic realm. As Christians, we need to be aware of demons and the power they do have, but we shouldn’t live our lives consumed by them or in constant fear of them.
Halloween is the one holiday that does seem to celebrate demons. Many people will dress up as the devil or other types of demons. I’m not saying that we should dress up like demons ourselves, but to avoid the holiday and go into a hole on that day is not the answer either. Jesus calls us to spread the Good News to our neighbors and Halloween is a great holiday to have interactions with your neighbors. Just because your neighbor might be dressed as the devil, it does not mean they worship the devil or that Satan has power over them.
If you look at how Jesus lived his life on earth, Jesus was not afraid to go and be with people who the religious leaders (Pharisees) would never imagine associating with. Many times the Pharisees would gasp at the sight of who Jesus hung out with. Jesus chose to be with the people who needed Him and needed the good news told to them. People who simply needed His love.
Well, maybe some of your neighbors or people you might meet on Halloween need your influence in their lives and this is a perfect opportunity to do that. There are Christians today who would disagree with taking part in the Halloween holiday, just as the Pharisees would if they were around today, but there is something much more at stake here than what other Christians will think of you. The issue is spreading your love to others and to miss this opportunity would be a great mistake.
I’m not saying that you should stand on your doorstep and yell the gospel message at the top of your lungs while beating on your Bible with your fist. Are you crazy, you will scare away everyone who might have even considered stopping to see you. Instead, simply show great love towards your neighbors and give them the gospel message not with your words, but with your actions. If you act in a loving enough manner, people will notice and it might plant the seeds for some later conversation down the road concerning the gospel message.
Halloween offers a great opportunity for us to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and its roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our own neighborhoods. Let’s not miss this opportunity.
If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to give you a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.
Be Hospitable…don’t just give out candy
- Give out the best candy. Please don’t be one of those people who give really lame treats like toothbrushes or a quarter. Kids are looking for good loot so give it too them. Put yourself in their shoes and remember what you wanted when you came to a house in your costume.
- Think of the parents. Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins to give to the parents who are taking their kids around the neighborhood. Make your entry-way as inviting as possible so they will want to come closer and maybe hang out for a little bit.
- Be present. Don’t hide out all night. Come to the door or hang out on the porch. If they choose to stay for a few minutes and have some cider, use the opportunity to get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.
- Be encouraging. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building up others with words.
- Party. If you are into that sort of thing, consider throwing a pre or post Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks for everyone. If you are throwing a pre-party, you could send one parent out with the kids and the other parent could stick around and drinks and talk. Everyone can gather after the Trick or Treating and the parents and kids can get together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids their candy they got).
Learn the stories. If you are out Trick or Treating with the kids or if you are one of the ones who is staying back at the house, ask people questions. Ask about their lives and get to know people’s stories. Pay attention to their needs they might have or troubles they might be experiencing. These will provide opportunities to serve them later. Who knows, it may lead to someone’s life being saved.
Go to their place…join what is happening elsewhere
- Attend the party. If other people are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Stick around after the party and serve others by helping to clean up.
- Join the community. If your community has special Halloween-themed events going on, go to them and invite some neighbors to go with you. You can get to know their stories along the way. Going to events with groups of people makes it a lot more fun to go.
- Head to the “watering holes”. If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you to join in the events going on there and get to know some of the people there. Make it you goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus in their life and walk away with some next steps in how you can serve that person in the future. It is more fun if you do this with others so bring some friends along with you.
Be prayerful…ask for the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and work
- Pay attention. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs of those around you.
- Open doors. Ask the Holy Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel oriented conversations to occur.
- Stay dependent. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you listen, care, and serve those around you.
Halloween can be an amazing opportunity to help the lives of those around you so don’t let the season scare you away!