As a person who didn’t grow up around evangelicalism I didn’t know that some folks didn’t celebrate Halloween until I was a in college. As a kid all I knew was that some people were home and didn’t give out candy and I just thought and said to my friends, "Jerks" as we walked by.
Are people who don’t give out candy on Halloween jerks?
As an adult I don’t think so. Now I know that people don’t give out candy for a few reasons, religious conviction being one of them.
Why do we allow our kids to go out for Halloween?
- I grew up doing it. In college I always thought the arguments against it were pretty lame so I never bought into the evangelical idea that "Halloween is bad." if we should protect our kids from "evil" than we shouldn’t have had kids in the first place. The world is full of darkness and sin.
- We like interacting with our neighbors. We live in a backyard culture where only Halloween and bad weather bring people together. Seriously… other than Halloween the only time I’ve met some of my neighbors (more than next door) is when trees fall down.
- We restrict their costume choices. You may think that at 4 & 6 years old this is easy… but it leads to a good discussion of "good pretend" and "bad pretend."
- Our kids like candy. I can’t imagine the horror of being a small child and knowing all your friends got mountains of candy and you didn’t. And to do that "for Jesus." While we should suffer for the name of Christ, we need to pick our battles.
Do you "endorse" Halloween by celebrating it?
I would loosely say we celebrate Halloween. We’re just not one of those people who goes all out for any holiday. Just like we put out a few lights for Christmas, we put out a few pumpkins for Halloween. Here’s a summary of what we do and I would recommend this to anyone:
- Mommy takes the kids trick or treating. We always invite friends to go with the kids so that its a social night. For them they get to see bucketloads of neighbors they’d otherwise never meet or see.
- I stay home and hand out candy. My conviction is this… as a pastor to a dead and dying community (spiritually) if 300+ people are going to knock on my door I want to represent Jesus to them as best as I can. Romeo is a small town and people would know if I was "the jerk" on the block who didn’t turn on his light. In fact, we plan on setting up our Halloween table again this year. We’ll have a table with hot chocolate, apple cider, and coffee for parents and of course mountains of candy for the kids. As families from all over Armada, Almont, Bruce Township, and other rural areas come to my house… I want to welcome them and tell them about the kids ministry! This isn’t an endorsed thing that I do on behalf of the church. It’s a thing that I do and I’m pretty sure I would do if I weren’t a pastor at the church. In fact, I wish more families from the church would embrace Halloween as a ministry opportunity.
What about Halloween Alternatives?
At the core of who I am I always want to use the things in our culture for redemptive purposes, even the "bad" ones. Having an alternative Halloween activity isn’t bad, and in some communities it is extremely culturally relevant. But my observation is these alternative activities are really "culture avoidance" and not culturally relevant.
As a student of the Bible I can imagine a very "proper" Jew like Paul feeling extraordinarily uncomfortable as he went to places like Corinth (a place that worshiped gods with temple prostitutes) or preaching in the agora of many places where vendors sold meet sacrificed to idols. He was likely sick to his stomach as he witnessed these things… and yet his job was to bring light into dark places. The implication of that verse is that we ought not to expect dark places (Halloween) to come to light (church)… but that we go to dark places for the purpose of bringing light.