5 Ways to Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween

Christians have a weird history with celebrating Halloween. Not growing up in the church I was appalled when I heard church people refer to it as “Devil’s night” and say things like, “Of course we don’t celebrate Halloween.” It’s as if we’re talking about two different holidays. There’s the one that actually happens and the one that you’re afraid is happening. Like all things– fear is irrational. 

The whole anti-Halloween concept is built on a theology of fear. Be reminded that in Ephesians 5 Paul instructs Christians to be light in dark places!

Many churches offer alternatives such as harvest parties, hell houses, or trunk-or-treating. Those things aren’t bad, but they aren’t good news in your neighborhood

Here’s my suggestion: Skip the Christian alternatives altogether and embrace Halloween for what it is. It’s a night when hundreds of families will wander around your neighborhood, smiling and enjoying one another, and giving candy to children.

Think strategically: For those who are anti-Halloween I have this challenge. One night a year one hundred families want to come to your door and say hello. Are you going to greet them? Or are you going to turn off your light and pretend they don’t exist?

Don’t be “that guy” on your block. Embrace Halloween as an opportunity to be good news in your neighborhood.

5 Ways You Can Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween

  1. Sit on the front porch. One of my favorite things to do is to sit on the front porch all night and talk to people as they come by. Resist the temptation to go inside between visitors. Trust me on this. You’ll like what happens. You’ll make great small talk with parents AND every time I’ve done it my neighbors see me and do the same. We have great little conversations porch-to-porch conversations between visitors.
  2. Make it a game. Set up a simple game in your front yard to give trick-or-treaters the opportunity to win the big candy bar. It could be as simple as a bean bag toss or throwing a football to knock something down. Make it simple, kids want to hit every house on your block, but this will make a great impression.
  3. Host a warming station on your block. We’ve done this one bunches of times– it’s ALWAYS a blast. We had close to 1000 trick-or-treaters at our house in Michigan and doing this cost me, maybe, $75. Set up a little tent in your driveway or front yard and serve coffee, hot cocoa, and apple cider. It’s a great break to the routine and easy to invite your small group or someone who doesn’t have trick-or-treaters to help with. Do it 2-3 years in a row and you’ll get known as the house that does that tent thing. Really want to make some friends? Offer parents a little Kahula or Bailey’s for their hot drink!
  4. Do something fun and not-so-scary. There are people in our neighborhood who go all out. They build tunnels over the sidewalk and scare the tar out of children. You can have fun like that and just make it fun. Rent a bounce house and play some music. Be weird and decorate your house for Christmas. Dress up like the easter bunny and have an easter egg hunt every 15 minutes. Just because you don’t want to get into the whole devil/ghosts/zombie thing doesn’t mean you can’t be creative to have some fun with the hundreds of kids who will come up your walk.
  5. Cover every house. I live on a block that has some elderly folks. Consequently, we have kind of a bummer block because many of them aren’t mobile enough to hand out candy. It would be great to rally a few people and make sure every porch light is on and there is candy at every house. Warning: You may need to actually talk to your neighbors to pull this one off. (Which is more scary than Halloween itself, right?)

What are other ways you can embrace Halloween as a way to be Good News in your neighborhood?


37 responses to “5 Ways to Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween”

  1. Barb Avatar

    For around 30 years now, I have had a dinner for families to come by before trick or treating.   They eat then go out trick or treating in our sub.    I’ve always left it open to whoever wants to come.  The only requirement I have is please try to let me know if you are coming and if you are bringing friends.   That way I know how much spaghetti & chili or whatever I making to make.  I always look forward to seeing all the kids (and some adults) dressed up.  I love seeing so many people come to our house just for a quick dinner and a little chatting .   As you know Adam, I don’t have a large house, but that has never stopped us.   If the chairs are all taken theirs always a spot on the floor.   There have been so many people throughout the years that I don’t know, but they are still welcome.   LOVE IT!!!

  2. Marty Estes Avatar

    For the second year in a row, our church will join with businesses, churches, and other organizations in our town to host a citywide fall festival in our downtown area.  Everyone sets up booths, has games, and hands out candy and information.  It’s a great way to be out in the community instead of asking the community to come to us.  

  3. Rayhausler Avatar

    We’re in a rural area where door to door trick or treating is very difficult. We’ve been good news to our neighborhood by creating the place to go. In our context, the trunk or treat is good news. But we’re doing it better this year and moving it to the school where we are also going to collect donations for the school.

  4. KJ Avatar

    I’m disapointed, Adam!  This post is absolutely void of any political statements about the injustice involved in eating out-of-season tomatoes or why followers of Jesus MUST agree with the dream act. 

    Although I’m sure to some folks the idea of Christians participating in Halloween is a lighting-rod issue in itself.

    I love all these ideas, and I’m implementing at least one of them THIS year….such good stuff. 

    Our church hosts a MASSIVE Halloween event each year that is actually fairly balanced, IMHO. We have trick or treating on campus, allow families to come dressed however they choose, etc.  It’s not billed so much as an “alternative” but more as a place to come have fun and get tons of candy in a short amount of time (the parking lot is filled with hundreds of family-operated booths that give out candy…)

    As a result, I rub shoulders with way more unchurched families at that event than staying at home. But….we always slip out as early as possible so we can be home when the neighborhood action hits.

    GREAT blog post full of easily implemented ideas to become more missional as families.


    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Don’t worry. We will be serving free range, grass fed candy. 🙂

      The thing at Saddleback is cool. Your church is it’s own zip code… seems pretty cool to me!

      1. Carl Fuglein Avatar
        Carl Fuglein

        Gluten free?

  5. Jeffrey Dick Avatar

    We have offered a number of activities at the church over the years.  In years when we have not, I enjoy sitting on the porch and chatting with the kids and parents.

    This year we will offer Holy Hospitailty at the church.   Many folks come in from the rural areas around our town and park here and then walk the neighborhood.   We offer coffee, cider and popcorn.   Parents really enjoy the break.

    I like your idea of the bean bag toss (we can have a Michigan State and UofM toss).   Thanks

  6. Becky Durham Avatar

    LOVE all of these. Our church does a Halloween Party on the Wednesday before Halloween, which I love because it gives kids/families an extra chance to wear their costumes and get candy!

    We moved a couple of years ago and I love how our new neighborhood does Halloween. Everyone sits outside and talks to each other and passes out good candy. I love your Easter Egg hunt idea, by the way. 🙂

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I thought that would be fun. Like.. how crazy would it be to dress up like Santa? 

  7. Brian Aaby Avatar
    Brian Aaby

    I love the practical call you give here Adam! We’ve been doing the hot apple cider thing the last few years and the adults chaperoning the kids have especially grown to love us! I love the idea of having some sort of game out front!
    This year Halloween is on Monday, I’m thinking a projection unit, hot cider and maybe grilling some dogs with some Monday Night Football on the garage door!

  8. RJ Grunewald Avatar

    So do you not recommend handing out bible tracts instead of candy?  Hah.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Only if that is the bible tract app on the iphone your handing out. 🙂 

  9. Bryan Watson Avatar

    Woah: celebrating the Holiday of Satan and Harry Potter is bad enough, but alky-holl?!?  Next you’ll be watching PG movies and watching MSNBC.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I don’t really like holidays… but for some reason I really enjoy Halloween. Er, what does that say about me? 

  10. […] one of the five ideas that Adam McLane posted on his […]

  11. […] (Taken from Adam McLane’s 5 Ways to Be Good News on Halloween) […]

  12. […] (Taken from Adam McLane’s 5 Ways to Be Good News on Halloween) […]

  13. […] (Taken from Adam McLane’s 5 Ways to Be Good News on Halloween) […]

  14. […] (Taken from Adam McLane’s 5 Ways to Be Good News on Halloween) […]

  15. […] (Taken from Adam McLane’s 5 Ways to Be Good News on Halloween) […]

  16. […] I believe there is much a believer can do to be good news in the neighborhood for Halloween. [Click here to read his excellent post on ways to be exactly that.] I’ve happily participated in parties, events and gatherings on Halloween, so long as they […]

  17. ADifferentDirection Avatar

    Such a fresh way to point out that Halloween can be a blessing. I will be following your blog for even more insights. God bless!

  18. Travis Deans Avatar

    Great ideas Adam! Thanks!

  19. […] about why Christians SHOULD celebrate Halloween. Give it a read, especially the second one. 5 Ways to Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween http://www.averageyouthministry.com/…/10/halloween/ "Dark Puppy of the Apocalypse" […]

  20. Chris Lema Avatar

    This year we’re doing something we’ve never done – we’re headed to Disneyland.

  21. Steve Holt Avatar
    Steve Holt

    Good stuff Adam… I always hated having to go to the “Christian” alternative. I loved when we moved to Ohio and our church did not do an alternative. For once I got to sit in my driveway start a fire, hand out candy and hang out with the neighborhood. You can’t be light when it’s covered up by a church building.

  22. Todd Porter Avatar

    I do number 3 and now my neighbors look forward to it and expect it. I love being able to be good news in my neighborhood at Halloween.

  23. Carl Fuglein Avatar

    Adam- Great ideas all. I usually sit outside and talk to the kids and the parents. We average about 75 individual kids, and I swear someone busses them in, because there aren’t near that many kids in our sub-division. We have fun. I’m looking into a bounce house (I’ve got my waivers handy)

  24. anonymous Avatar

    I read how easy it was to be known as the house that does the tent thing, and I’m sure all of these ideas will make you well known in the neighborhood. Just wondering how many commitments to Christ and disciples have you seen as ‘fruit’ of your embracing Halloween in these ways?

  25. kolby Avatar

    Great post as always adam. Love all the ways you hangout with your neighbours. Not growing up in the church always make we wonder why Christians make such a huge deal about halloween. As a kid growing up, it was never about satan, it was about candy. It is so easy to get off mission.

    Thanks for bring us back to the mission and heart of God…To love him, and to love others…and maybe eat organic, non toxic, sugar free candy. haha.

  26. Lizbeth Avatar

    I really appreciate this post. Every year I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I don’t like what is behind the holiday, and I don’t like exposing my kids to all the creepy things every year. One of my sons is particularly turned off and has nightmares from visually scary things, including movies and everyday things. However, I also don’t think that handing out tracts or doing some alternative at your neighbors house is very effective at reaching people (as far as relationally). I don’t want to expose my kids to stuff that is beyond what they can handle, but I also want to teach them to reach people. We live rurally, so we can’t just hand out candy anyway. Maybe we ought to have a sort of warming station/fly by night ongoing party at our house, and put up flyers for an open invitation so people know where we are and that we are there. People in our community know who we are, so if we did it once, I am quite sure people would keep coming back. That wouldn’t solve the exposure to creepy costumes though. Some of them really are nasty. Maybe some of us really do need to stick with building relationships. Maybe…have dinner or snacks with all the elderly in the neighborhood? We have a nursing home and three assisted living buildings that we could just spend enormous amounts of time at. Maybe we can do parties later, and visits now.

    Just a side note, and I want to be gentle here because I know tones can be harsher in print and that is not my intention. Our family really DOES eat “good” candy. Not grassfed or necessarily organic, but we would be in deep trouble if we ate traditional candy. Hopefully we can be kind when we comment, because there are people out there who have reasons for what they do. Its not about just living a little and eating a piece of candy now and then. I couldn’t quite tell if your comments about organic and grassfed were serious or sarcastic, since I don’t normally follow your posts. Just remember that there are people out there that have serious health issues that require those alternatives.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and some very good ideas as to what one can do to reach people for Christ on a holiday that most people just turn their backs on, even unintentionally. Creating guilt and fear in people is not something we should be doing, and building relationships….sitting on your front porch and reaching out to people where they are…seems like something Jesus would do.


    1. adam mclane Avatar

      @lizbeth – thanks for your kind comment. We’ve been leading this charge since Fall 2002. So it is something that’s become kind of a conviction with me. Evangelicals have a weird view of culture, one that sometimes gets in the way of our mission as believers. And I think an anti-Halloween thing is one of those areas where we miss the mission in an attempt to “be right” on a sub-point of something.

      Anyway, yes, I think we need to look at Halloween for the fact of what it is… 1x per year that people are out on the street, meeting neighbors, smiling, chit chatting, etc. There simply isn’t another day like it on the annual calendar and we’d be wise to make the most of it.

      As far as my organic, grassfed candy… I’m making fun of myself. Our family has been on that bandwagon for quite a while.

      But the whole food thing really is a fad, and we all need to be OK with being poked fun at about it. Less than 1% of Americans have a legitimate, medically proven, reason to be gluten free, but now you can get a gluten free burger at a fast food place. Americans, out of our wealth, develop food fads. Right now it’s gluten free, when I wrote this it was “grass fed, free range” and just a few years ago it was sodium free or fat free or low calories or whatever. That’s just part of being an American… we are food fetishist.

  27. […] finally, I recommend this post by Adam McLane on how to be a good neighbour during […]

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  29. […] it is. If it’s Good News in your Neighborhood, I want to highlight it. Send it to me and I’ll post it here or share it on social […]

  30. […] you be good news in your neighborhood this weekend? Check out this article for some thoughts and […]

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