When our boys were little tikes, we would take them to our church on All Hallows Eve for a fun-filled night of games and candy. We did this for years. I repent. We missed some major opportunities.

Halloween has become one of those holidays that evangelicals have shied away from. Another way for us to withdraw from the world. We are increasingly looking like our fundamentalist forefathers, whose cries of separation from the world marked them more than love.

How often do you get children to willingly come to your house—children you have never met before, children who are eager and willing to accept the gifts you have for them? What an opportunity for the gospel! Yet increasingly evangelical churches are having their own ‘Fall Fun Festival’ in place of Halloween. It’s certainly safer, but so is living in a cave.

Years ago, before we had children and before the Christian alternative to Halloween had become popular, my wife and I lived in the worst slums of Dallas. We bought a house for one dollar (yes, really), and lived there for almost four years. The first Halloween we erected a haunted house inside our home. Kids came from all over to enter the makeshift cardboard tunnel, scream as they encountered various amorphous ghoulish delights, and come out on the other end with their fears relieved. We then gave them a pack of candy (some primo stuff, guaranteed to rot their teeth), stapled in a small sack with a gospel tract attached. The next day, some parents came back to our house and wanted to know more about the gospel.

Regardless of what you think of our haunted house idea, at least recognize that Halloween offers us an engraved invitation to share the gospel. Nowadays, parents are too wary to let their kids go into a stranger’s home and crawl through the dark in a cardboard tube. But the opportunity is still there. We now give the kids in our neighborhood the very best candy (full candy bars, rather than the little bite-sized pieces). They remember us. We also don’t turn away kids from our neighborhood who are selling Girl Scout Cookies. And I stop at lemonade stands in the summertime when little girls are charging outrageous prices for sugar water. I pay full price and give them a tip. We want to be known as the ‘soft touch’ family. Anything we can do to make the gospel attractive and our home a place where children and their parents know that something here is different, that this is a place where love is truly felt. So, if you’re in the neighborhood, drop by this Halloween. Our lights will be on. Better yet, stay home and turn on your own lights. A golden opportunity awaits you.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    17 replies to "Halloween: A Missed Opportunity for Evangelicals (Dan Wallace)"

    • Marv

      Would you say that the Halloween issue falls pretty much into the eating food sacrificed to idols category?

    • Stan McCullars

      Good food for thought. Thanks for posting.

      After decades of not participating in Halloween in any way other than a program at church, the last several years I have been giving out candy. I may have to do a bit more this year.

    • Mike Gastin

      Okay, not arguing Halloween, at what point do we not engage with the culture? Meaning, how far is too far for us, as the church? What’s off limits?

    • Bible Study

      Halloween is definitely another opportunity to spread the gospel, especially if God is in the arrangements and sets up a good conversation for you with the lost. However, most that come to my house get their candy and go, not much opportunity to talk about the gospel, any thoughts on this? How to set up conversation about the gospel quickly to those who will be here one minute and gone the next?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      I consider Halloween to be one of those gray areas. For some, it’s offensive. I get that. But for others, it’s an opportunity. Where do we draw the line? Case by case. But I would rather err on the side of grace.

      As for reaching kids on Halloween night, Bible Study, I think that’s not the point. Rather, you set up your home to be the soft touch of the neighborhood. Kids come there, they know you’re friendly. They get interested in your life, and you sincerely love them. In time, opportunities come. This year we are using glow in the dark tracts from the American Tract Society. Kids will love them! And their parents are always standing on the sidewalk, so they’ll remember where the best candy and the glow in the dark tracts came from.

    • Emily

      I love Halloween. It just doesn’t seem to happen that often that everyone will get out into the street together having fun–and with their kids.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Unfortunately, I’ll miss Halloween this year. I’ll be on the west coast speaking at a church that day and won’t get home till late.

    • Dave Z

      West Coast? What church?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Dan Kimball’s, in Santa Clara.

    • Dave Z

      Ah. I’m down south. Oh, well…hope you have a great time.

    • […] Halloween: A Missed Opportunity for Evangelicals When our boys were little tikes, we would take them to our church on All Hallows Eve for a […]

    • L.V.

      I find great encouragement for the local body in this article. We have been holding a “Trunk or Treat” outreach for the last 7 years at our local church. 10-12 vehicles form a small circle creating a carnival atmosphere in the parking lot.

      With appropriate music playing through a portable sound system the kids play small low skill carnival games in the trunks and beds of pickup trucks for treats. Face painting, a raffle of Christian children’s books, and a free hot dog, chips and chili ‘snack’ for the kids and families who come by are also going on. We have seen a healthy year to year increase as local families find that we offer a safe & fun alternative to the over-the-top activities that are so common.

      The free snack also has worked well for middle of the week all saint’s eve so that all the people helping have a chance to get something to eat.

      Everyone who walks out the door from the fellowship hall where the food is served receives a tract and a personal invitation to join us again for worship or bible study.

      Members from other local churches have even stopped by to take notes for their own versions and there are now almost two dozen local churches offering similar activities on Halloween.

    • […] Dan Wallace writes how he would use a haunted house and “various amorphous ghoulish delights” to provide a way to share the gospel. […]

    • […] shocked any more.)  Ours is one of those congregations that’s fashionable these days as the target of mockery from folks who see it as an opportunity for candy-based evangelism: because we’re […]

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