How should Christians celebrate Halloween? Halloween can be confusing for Christians and there is a broad spectrum of Christian responses to this holiday. I don’t think there is one right answer, but I’d like to share a few ideas from our family and other Bethany Church families.
Our street knows we trick-or-treat in the daylight so they’re all ready for us around 5 p.m. We take our time visiting with neighbors, and we usually stay on our street of 22 houses. That’s plenty of candy for us. Then we head home for the real fun.
The pumpkin chili simmering in the crock pot is served around our dining room table with our grandparents and a few neighbors. When the doorbell rings, we’re thrilled to greet our trick-or-treaters. Since our fall yard décor includes white twinkle lights, cute pumpkins and happy homemade scarecrows, children of all ages feel safe coming to our door. We make it our business to be as kind, well-lit and hospitable as possible. We want to be the house that everyone wants to visit!
One church family hands out small Bibles or storybook Bibles to trick-or-treaters. Another sits out on their bright front porch with a bowl of candy to pass out as they watch the parade of costumes. One couple brings their lawn chairs and fire pit to their front driveway to greet passing neighbors. Another family uses Halloween as a night to spend time at home together. They bake cookies and put on a family movie or play board games. They turn out lights in the front of the house so trick-or-treaters get the polite message to move along.
The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Thess. 5:5, “You are children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night and to the darkness.” As children of light, let’s avoid decorating our yards with gory, violent content that not only invites demonic activity but also disturbs and upsets others. Halloween can be a very scary time of year for some children so let’s not contribute to fear and evil. In Kids Church, we encourage each other to look for Jesus instead of looking at scary stuff, asking, “What can I find right now that reminds me of Jesus? The clouds! That tree with the fall colors! Wind blowing the leaves!”
Two years ago, we started a new tradition with the Bethany Church children. We send the children home with a roll of tape and a sandwich bag full of Bible verses printed on small papers. The children tape the Bible verses to each piece of candy their family will give trick-or-treaters. (If you want to join us in this tradition, I suggest that you give great candy.) Here’s why we enjoy this so much: Remember what God says about his Word in Isaiah 55:11: “It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Someone will read that Bible verse, and God will work in their life. Maybe multiple someones!
I can’t wait for the moment in heaven when someone joyfully runs up to a Bethany Church child to say, “Thanks for that Bible verse you put on your Halloween candy! That was a turning point for me!”
So, do we celebrate Halloween? I wouldn’t say we “celebrate” it. Do we take advantage of the opportunity to connect with our neighbors? Yes. Do we use the opportunity to share God’s love with the world around us? Yes. Do we shine the light of Jesus brightly as children of light? Yes!
Crystal Nachtigall is the children’s pastor at Bethany Church in Fresno, California, She and her husband, Josh, have three children.