Or how to use everything that is bad about Halloween as a tool to share the gospel—
If there is a holiday that causes controversy in the church, it is Halloween. Some churches welcome it as a great time to do community outreach with alternative Halloween events; others shake their fingers and condemn churches that even mention the term.
It’s always easier to curse the darkness than to flood it with light, but taking our cue from the Apostle Paul who used the pagan idols in Athens as his bridge to sharing the gospel, I'd like to challenge you to use this time of year to share the gospel.
Following is a brief video of the material that follows and after it the text of it and at the end of the blog, FREE Downloadable materials for you to use in your Halloween outreach. Please make the most of them and don't miss this opportunity!
How it brings up a topic few want to discuss—the reality of death
There is a lot to dislike about Halloween—its emphasis on and even glorification of evil, its focus on death and the macabre. At the same time, the topic of death is not something that most people in our pleasure and prosperity‐obsessed world consider very often. Instead of running away from this, we can use this focus on the afterlife during the Halloween season as a bridge to share the gospel of Jesus, our Savior who conquered death.
This approach of taking what was important to his audience and using it as a bridge to the gospel was the one taken by the Apostle Paul, as he wrote to the Corinthians:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
1 Cor. 9:20‐22
We might paraphrase this today to say:
To those who celebrate Halloween, I will offer an alternative celebration; to those who want to focus on death, I will offer the consideration of the Savior who conquered death; to those afraid to share the hope that is within them, I will share tools and opportunities to engage their friends in a consideration of Jesus. Our church will do whatever we can during Halloween so that by all possible means we might save some.
Churches don’t put on alternative Halloween events because the staff is bored or has run out of things to do. You all spend the time and trouble to put on these events as a way to reach people who might never come to our church for any other reason—make the most of it and use this time to introduce them to Jesus.
A spiritual focus is already done for you
Think about it, the advertising world has people thinking about things they don't often consider--the afterlife and death. It may be a distorted, incorrect view, yet Halloween awareness is huge—in marketing dollars spent, in candy sales, in the immense mind share it captures. Halloween stores, costume shops, many aisles in your local discount store—everywhere you go, Halloween confronts you. Though as Christians we might have genuine concerns about this, we can also make the most of this time and use Halloween as a time to connect with people and share the gospel.
To do that I want to first need to establish a biblical basis for the church to be involved in Halloween. I want to help church leaders carefully consider this topic so they can explain to their congregations why the energy and money is spent for this time and for the spiritual emphasis of it. You aren't just providing an alternate good time.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s example if you have hesitations about Halloween alternative events
When Paul got to Athens in Acts 17, before he shared the gospel, he took time to look at what people already worshipped. In Athens, this consisted of many idols of pagan gods and altars to them. I’m sure many were beautiful and appealing (think of the Greek statues you see in museums) and since the worship of these gods was based, as many of them were, around feasting and sexual excess, they were appealing to many people.
The idols and all they represented were not appealing to Paul.
He had grown up with “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Conservative, former Hebrew of Hebrews that he was, I’m sure these statues, altars, and what they represented were repulsive to him. But he didn’t let his inner revulsion stand in the way of noticing the “altar to an unknown god.”
I wonder what went through his mind as he considered how he might use it as a bridge to sharing the gospel message. I wonder if he stood and stared at it; I wonder if he walked quickly past and slowly returned as the Holy Spirit perhaps prompted him for a second look.
He would later use that most likely initially repulsive altar as a bridge to share the gospel. In a similar way we can use Halloween if we look closely at it.
Consider also that he didn’t do
Paul did not berate the Athenians for having so many idols. He could have. Like an Old Testament prophet, he could have loudly screamed, “Abomination, abomination! You are all evil, wicked sinners for having so many idols!”
He didn’t do that. His focus was not on condemnation but on redemption. With the focus of wanting to do something that would lead people towards salvation instead of merely insulting them, he could say “What you worship without knowing it, the ‘unknown god’ is I want to tell you about, who is he is and how you can know him.” Paul looked past the obvious and offensive in the idols themselves and saw people who were searching for God.
Like the Apostle Paul we can take elements of our culture and use them as a bridge to share the gospel message.
At its core, Halloween is about life after death. Our culture may have twisted and trivialized this holiday, but there is no denying that at this time of year people are thinking about death and the afterlife probably more than at any other time. It may be a totally distorted view, but it is a topic of conversation.
The association of Dia de los Muertos with Halloween has strengthened that connection.
At the core of the Christian faith is a true focus on death and life beyond the grave. Though we may have the same core subject, the Christian view is not about fanciful demons and goblins or grotesque witches or of memories of lost family members: our core belief is that Jesus died a real physical death and three days later physically rose from the dead. He conquered death. And he offers the same extraordinary gift to us: a freedom from fear of death and life everlasting to those who trust him as Savior and follow him as Lord.
Halloween brings up the topic of life after death into the cultural conversation. People are already talking about it; we simply need tools and activities to turn them to looking at the Christian view of these topics.
All of this makes Halloween a fantastic opportunity for evangelism. The additional articles and free templates below can help you do that but there is ONE key thing that will make a huge difference and that is to give away at whatever event you do a card that challenges people to consider the one person who conquered death, Jesus and that gives them away to find out more about Him, both with links to websites they can explore and resources at your church.
Here is a link to another article and free, reproducible flyer/card handout you can use to do this: How to make the most of Halloween for evangelism and the true Christian view of life after death https://wp.me/pDky9-9lu
Additional resources, motivation, and practical, free templates you can use to make the most of Halloween
Following are links to additional blogs for practical advice, plus free templates, and other materials to help you make the most of Halloween, as a time for outreach and evangelism:
A non-scary way to share your faith at Fall Festivals and Halloween
Was Jesus a zombie—NO irreverence intended, but an honestly asked question and an answer
FREE TEMPLATES for Fall Registration Cards, Invitations, Halloween Evangelism
Halloween, a great time for evangelism…..really!!
Church Halloween Celebrations: why simply having fun and not sinning is not the point of why we do what we do
How Christians are like Pumpkins—a fun object lesson for adults and kids to grow as Christians together https://wp.me/pDky9-9ah
Halloween responses to keep in mind--a flyer reminder to be kind when we might want to be grumpy
Editable Halloween MS Publisher materials plus a preview PDF for all
Older collection, some of the artwork needs updating, but still some very helpful pieces.
Halloween Communications for before, during, and after your event
Halloween Outreach Videos and how to use them to reach unchurched people for Jesus