As Christ followers, we can feel that Halloween puts us into an awkward position. A holiday that often boasts about darkness and evil isn't something we're too keen on celebrating. We might find ourselves wondering -- "Isn't participation in Halloween tantamount to celebrating wordliness or worse?"
These questions and concerns are valid. After all, almost everything about this holiday and how it's commonly celebrated is dark, to say the least. However, many often mistake engagement with endorsement. It's true we have a biblical mandate to move away from the values of our culture when they are at odds with the gospel, but we also have a mandate to move toward our culture with the hope of the gospel.1 Remember, Jesus himself was often accused of endorsing the sin while freeing the sinner. If our lives on mission are under scrutiny because of our engagement of the lost, we might be doing something right.
And so, this year we'd like to propose a new way to participate in Halloween. A way that shows radical generosity, a way that has you treating your neighborhood like a mission field, and a way that makes your home a light in the darkness, a beacon on a hill all year long.
We believe Halloween is one opportunity (among many) to show our neighbors the generosity of God.
We say generosity “of God” because our giving functions as a parable. In handing out the best candy or the most candy, in creating a welcoming home for trick-or-treaters, in surprising our neighbors with kindness, we are telling them about the character of God.2
When we are generous, we are telling our neighbors about the generosity and character of God. God is generous, and so we are generous. God is welcoming, and so we are welcoming. God is kind, and so we are kind.
YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AS A MISSION FIELD
Here is a helpful analogy to encourage us to see Halloween as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.
For a moment, let’s imagine you are a missionary in a foreign country. You just moved in and are getting a feel for the culture and daily life of the inhabitants. Very few know about Jesus, and ancestral worship is the most common religious practice. You’ve been praying about opportunities to connect with the people and share about Jesus. Then, you hear about a large ancestral worship festival in which all of the city will be out. If you will only turn on your porch light, they will come to your door to exchange small gifts. Wouldn’t you thank God for an opportunity to meet so many of the dead people you want to reach? To expose them (even for just a few moments) to the hope you have in Jesus?3
Of course you would. This is exactly what happens every October 31st. One night a year the mission field actually knocks on our front door. How will we respond?
A BEACON ON A HILL
We can hope and pray that our generosity, our welcoming, our loving spirits on Halloween will cause our neighbors to reach out to us through the year. We believe that the kindness of the Lord is contagious. We believe that once our neighbors encounter the joy of Jesus in a human heart, that they can't help but be curious.
When we intentionally engage our neighbors with radical generosity and a mission mindset on Halloween, we are opening ourselves to opportunities to do these same things year round.
This year we pray that you see October 31st as an opportunity. In a culture known for taking, we can be known for how we radically give. In a culture known for disconnectedness, we can be known for actively meeting people where they are. And in a culture known for siloed homes, we can be known as a place where a bright light lives.
The harvest is plentiful, Stonegate. May we not be found with our shades drawn on the night the harvest comes to us.
If you'd like to hear how Pastor Jimmy Needham and his wife Kelly show radical generosity each year on Halloween, we encourage you to check out these blog posts (here, here, and here) written by them in previous years.