By Justin Tucker
For some Christians, “Halloween” is a dreaded word that can bring up questions and debate.
Is it OK for a Christian to celebrate Halloween?
Should I call it “Reformation Day” in order to make it more acceptable to my evangelical friends?
Should I only attend the “Trunk-or-Treat” at my church?
Should my kids’ costumes resemble only beloved Bible characters?
Putting aside all the differing opinions, Halloween offers an opportunity to engage your neighbors who don’t know Jesus. We can be present and involved with our neighbors in order to build relationships with them.Halloween is a time when we have the chance to open up our lives to our neighbors, with the hope of open doors for gospel conversations. — Justin Tucker Click To Tweet
At this point you may be thinking, OK, what gospel tract should I place in every trick-or-treat bag? Gospel tracts have a time and place, but I would recommend an approach that requires a little more investment.
Halloween is a time when we have the chance to open up our lives to our neighbors, with the hope of open doors for gospel conversations. Here a few steps to consider this Halloween:
1. Get involved
If your neighbors are having a party, plan to join them. When your neighborhood sends out an invitation, see it as a great possibility to find a new friend and be a window into the gospel.
Do you have single moms in your neighborhood who may need help with their children? Are there families who’ve had sickness and need someone to take their kids trick-or-treating?
As you get to know your neighbors and their needs, find creative ways to be a blessing to them during this community-wide holiday.
3. Create hangout space
If you only plan on opening your door and passing out candy, it may be difficult to have a real conversation with people.
Consider ways to encourage neighbors to stop and visit at your house, like getting a fire pit and putting it on your driveway, or offering them hot apple cider or hot chocolate—or even pizza.
Sometimes in our neighborhood, we invite everyone to bring a side dish, and we cook the main course. Then everyone hangs out at our house while we leave bowls of candy on our doorsteps for trick-or-treaters.
We’ve also created a block party with music and a bounce house, inviting everyone to join in. The goal is to create an environment where people can have genuine conversations. You never know what will happen until you try it.
4. Talk—and listen
Fight against the temptation to stand in the corner or only interact with people who are just like you.
Instead, be intentional, ask good questions, and actively listen. We’re often tempted to talk too much. Jesus was great at asking questions and listening to the words behind the words. Being a good listener may open doors to pray for a need you discover, or even share your own story of faith.
Gospel conversations are the ultimate goal, but on this night don’t feel like a failure if you don’t get from “creation to Christ.” For most of us, these will be new relationships, and sometimes launching the “God-bomb” into our earliest conversations can shut down future talks with our neighbors.
This Halloween, ask God to do something out of the ordinary! One year, my wife and I found ourselves around a fire with a neighbor who began sharing something difficult about their family.
On a dark street, in funny costumes, eating leftover candy, we prayed for this neighbor. Don’t force a gospel conversation, but don’t avoid an opportunity.
6. Follow up
After Halloween is over, we want to hide the candy from our kids so they don’t bounce off the walls for weeks. But once the holiday has passed, fight against the desire to be done with your neighbors.
Engaging your neighbors at Halloween can serve as a launch pad for actually entering into their lives and engaging them on a regular basis. Don’t miss an opportunity to be a “light on a hill” for your neighborhood to see on Halloween and all throughout the year.
Justin is pastor of adult discipleship and missions at Grace Community Church in Nashville, Tenn.