Should Christians give at Halloween?

By Daniel Jones | 28 October 2015 | Comments (8)

Should Christians give at Halloween?

The 31st.

One night, each year, we learned to dread as children.

The curtains dragged closed, all light from the house hidden from view as the 3-foot ghouls and goblins trod gingerly up the driveway.  The doorbell sounds.  We wait, without a whisper, until the murmurs of our excited and sugar-fuelled contemporaries retreat into the night.

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But now, in adulthood, those fears and dread make way for thoughts of opportunity, connection and witness.  It’s the one time each year when neighbours and strangers come knocking on our door, (53 last year - a new record); but should a Christian be giving treats on Halloween?

A quick hunt through Google reveals the disputed origins of the festival: an invention of the church ahead of All Saints Day? A pagan festival celebrating the dead?  Or just another crackpot tradition twisted by retailers hungry for profit? This Halloween page from Scripture Union is the most balanced and helpful commentary I’ve found so far.

Whatever the truth of its beginning, can any good come from a night that celebrates evil?

The apostle Paul says clearly: ‘Stay away from every kind of evil’ (1 Thessalonians 5:22, NLT).  We should also ‘be in the world but not of the world’, so maybe drawing the curtains is the best approach?

The ‘What would Jesus Do?’ argument would be so much more helpful if Jesus actually said something about Halloween, pumpkins or trick or treating.  Verses flood my mind – “Hate what is evil, cling to that which is good.”, but can I really turn my back on an evening with so much potential to make connections in my neighbourhood?  It’s an undeniable chance to demonstrate generosity and spill light into the community.

Andy Frost, Director of Share Jesus International, sees the opportunity:

“Christians are often known for what we are against. When we look around at culture, we can often see what is wrong with the world and it’s easy to just condemn it!  

I have found it interesting to ask, how can we cultivate culture? As a gardener plucks out weeds and waters plants, in what ways can we weed out things that aren’t right and encourage what is good?

I’ll be creating cross pumpkins with my kids and, rather than celebrating Halloween, it’ll give me an opportunity to talk about the evil in the world but also about the victorious light Christ offers.

And when people come a knocking on my door, with the infamous ‘Trick or Treat’, I’ll be using it as an opportunity to be generous with some sweets but also to give them a snippet of psalm 23 printed on ancient looking paper.”

The Christian charity World Vision seems to agree, commandeering Halloween for their Carve a Heart appeal. Carving good, not evil, into a pumpkin and donating to help children who spend every night living in fear is an appealing way to redeem Halloween.

Whatever your view, Halloween is complex. And the decision to engage or disengage is a matter of personal conviction and a whole heap of prayer.

 

On Halloween night, here is an ancient prayer from the Bible (Psalm 23 MSG)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

 

Will you be giving this Halloween? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


 

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Posted by Daniel Jones

Daniel is Stewardship’s Chief Generosity Officer and is passionate about finding new and innovative ways to encourage and inspire Christians in their giving, and helping those who receive to do so with excellence. Daniel advises denominations on stewardship and giving, and is a serial trustee of small community organisations. Follow Daniel on Twitter: @dmjonesoir

comments:

Joe

October 28, 2015 1:52 PM
Daniel, what a great little thought, so much heated rhetoric around this event but it's easy to forget the hearts and families behind the creepy masks!

Katherine

October 29, 2015 1:50 PM
What a great article! Our house is divided over how to "celebrate" or not Halloween and this article has given some fuel to the "engage but engage well" side.
Many thanks,
K

Jo

October 29, 2015 9:44 PM
I absolutely commend the attitude of Andy Frost and just maybe if we start to use Pumpkins to carve
the Cross with the light radiating from it. People might just start to think about how darkness verses
Light. What a wonderful way to spread the message of Jesus.

What a jolt when people knock the door and receive a passage from the Bible and the symbol of
the cross! Wow! Lets go for it..........

J Colling

Karen Killick

October 30, 2015 10:15 AM
This is something we struggle with every year - the balance between being welcoming and not being negative in the name of Jesus when people knock on our door ( and then expecting them to come to our church outreach activities ) and yet not tacitly going with the cultural tide and the spiritual forces of evil in the world..we have tried giving out chocolate bars stuck to attractive child friendly bible verse - most got torn off and chucked as they went down the path, so still thinking what to do this year.
The pumpkin with the cross carved in it and put in the window is a great idea.
Thank you for such a helpful positive article.

Dawn Maclure

October 30, 2015 2:46 PM
I have tried various ideas. One year me and my children held a light party at our house and I sent the kids to the door dressed as angels of light to give the 'Trick or Treaters' bags of hope (available from UCB for free).
Another year we tried the cross in pumpkins idea but it just attracted more door knockers who really didn't want to talk about Jesus being the light of the world and most of my neighbours thought we were celebrating Halloween!
One year I put a big poster up saying 'Jesus is the Light of the World' celebrate the Light!.
This year as its on a Saturday I am a bit restricted as my husband doesn't want me to open the door! We will just do our normal thing and turn the doorbell off!

David

October 30, 2015 10:57 PM
My wife is from America and her experience growing up is a lot difference to here - being a lot more family friendly with all sorts of costumes for "trick and treating" not only witches, ghouls etc.

We took our boys "trick and treating" when we were last in the USA at Halloween (dressed as Winnie the Pooh characters!), but will not be doing so here this year. As our town fireworks is on Halloween this year we will be out that evening but we do have a stock of Halloween tracks to give out with sweets.

Joe Story

November 2, 2015 12:41 PM
This year my wife and I printed a card which said that as Christians we don't do Halloween but we do do neighbourly - and followed with an invitation for the knocker and their family to come to tea next weekend. No takers yet but we feel it got a positive rather than a negative reaction.

Anne McB

November 4, 2015 11:08 AM
Enjoyed the article. We carved 2 small squashes instead of pumpkins and put tealights inside each one - my 11 year old son carved one with a face and I carved one with a cross. I then offered fruit (segments of satsumas, cut up chunks of bananas) instead of sweets and I did genuinely feel happy to see the people who called - younger children sometimes but also some teenagers (mostly girls) who appreciated the healthy fruit. "How refreshing", said one. Happy healthy Halloween, I said, laughing because my own children (and husband) had ridiculed me for saying I'd offer fruit instead of sweets.

I agree that we need to be positive and neighbourly. Next year, I may bake some flapjacks too or extend what we do in some way. I think as Christians, we need to be more confident that the light shines out of us, that the Holy Spirit is in us and I think people will be attracted to us if we can be positive. Our kids did their own thing with friends who are not Christians. I think this is because we've opted out of Halloween most years - we were confused and negative so we just opted out. This now means our own children think that we are negative when it comes to Halloween and they've just gone elsewhere! I really felt a new peace in Halloween as I offered fruit on the doorstep, smiling and chatting to people (mainly children and teens) and joining in at the level that I felt truly comfortable. I loved knowing that my little cross with the light inside was burning on our doorstep ...

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