Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Children's Ministry Response to Halloween

By now, many of you have already celebrated Halloween or a Halloween alternative in your children's ministry, or you have taken your child trick or treating. Our church hosted over fifty children at a “Neewollah” (Halloween spelled backwards) celebration, a fall festival with a “Trunk and Treat,” a bounce house, a putt putt golf course, face painting and lots of food and oh, yes, candy. As you clean up the decorations and wonder what you’ll do with your leftover candy or as you reflect on the children who passed by your darkened house, perhaps you are asking yourself once again, “What should A Christian’s response be to Halloween?”

Every year, I struggle with how to approach Halloween. Should I treat it as just an innocent holiday of fun or, because others use it for evil, should I have nothing to do with it? For several years, I’ve chosen flight over fight to avoid having to take a stand as I head out for dinner and shopping while kids roam my neighborhood so I don’t have to make a choice. More recently, as I’ve heard how Satan worshipers and others consider October 31st as a high holy day, I’ve swung more to the side of wanting nothing to do with the holiday so I can avoid the appearance of evil altogether.

Jesse Craig, minister at the Valley Christian Church, preached a sermon about Halloween this last Sunday that was the best explanation of how a Christian ought to approach Halloween that I’ve ever heard. With Mr. Craig’s permission, I’d like to share the outline of his sermon.

He based his thoughts on the Scripture text from 1 Corinthians 10:14-33. His thesis was this: we are all one body. How we treat others is what is important. “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (v. 23).

Instead of asking, “Is this all right for me to do this?” we should ask, “How will this bring glory to God?” and “Am I going to cause someone else to stumble in their faith by participating in this?” Instead of focusing on our own pleasure, focus on God and on others. Sounds like a recipe for life. It applies to our approach to Halloween as well.

His four-point outline taken from 1 Corinthians is this:

1. Don’t do anything that would make your brother - or a child – stumble

2. We are free in Christ. You are fee to make your own choices. So are others. Avoid the temptation of criticizing others for how they choose to handle this difficult situation. Whatever you do, don’t be nasty about others’ choices. See Romans 14:1,2

3. Love other people. Love them in spite of the choices they make, in spite of their stand on Halloween. Use Halloween as an opportunity, not to fear the darkness, not to tolerate the darkness, but to shine brightly in the darkness.

4. Halloween is a great chance to shine for Jesus. Look for opportunities to offer safe and wholesome alternatives. Give your kids options that will enable them to steer them away from the world.

Matthew 5:16 – How are we going to let our light shine? Here are some practical ideas on how we can shine for Jesus at Halloween:

1. Distribute information about your church along with candy.

2. Trick or treating is the one time your kids are allowed to ring doorbells! Have your kids pass out invitations to your church. (I love this one!)

3. Give nickels and dimes to kids instead of candy. (You will probably spend less money!)

4. Play Christian music in the background.

5. Dress up as a bible character as you distribute candy.

6. Have your kids dress up as Bible Characters. Make sure they know who they are so they can tell people who ask and that they can tell a short story about the Bible character.

7. Carve a cross on a pumpkin instead of a scary face. Put a candle in it and tell kids that Jesus is the light of the world.

8. Whether or not you participate in Halloween, pray for the kids who will be on the streets.

(I would like to add to this one. Pray for college kids as well. Often students on secular campuses use Halloween as an excuse to push the envelope in participating in orgies, drunkenness and demonic activities. My daughters who attend a secular university have told me stories of how they hide out in their dorm rooms Halloween weekends so they don't have to be exposed to the lewd behavior. Pray for Christian students to have strength to resist temptation.)

Remember: Halloween offers the Christian yet another opportunity to love others as Christ loves us.

“Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15,16.

Start planning NOW how you will intentionally shine for Jesus on Halloween, 2012.


Gail Purath said...

Excellent article, Karen. I appreciate some of these insights.

Anonymous said...

Karen, I'm so glad that you were able to share what Jesse had to say on Sunday. I'm excited for him to read this and I'm equally excited to see how, we, as Christians will answer the call in the Halloweens to come!

Kara Craig