First let me say that if you're a believer in Jesus and reading this you've probably heard all the reasons why Christians and certainly churches should not celebrate or recognize Halloween. You've heard horror stories about Satanic rituals and virgin sacrifices many times before. So please remember that the title isn't Why I Run from Halloween, but Why I Don't Run From Halloween. If you want another lesson in the reasons to avoid Halloween there is plenty of information on the inter-web for you.
Do you remember a time in your life when you met someone that said they didn't celebrate Halloween? Do you remember how you responded? My guess is you did NOT look at them with a sense of reverence for their spiritual superiority. You didn't gaze at their glowing face in awe of their giant faith. No, my guess is that you asked a very sarcastic "why?" with a this guys a nut look on your face... or you simply shrugged your shoulders and kept eating your mountain of candy. My father was a pastor for 35 years and every one of those years we dressed up and begged candy from our neighbors. But I never remember Halloween being mentioned in church.
Church seems to have a bit of a double standard in this area. Churches have resigned themselves to the fact that 98.7% of their people will celebrate Halloween but you still can't talk about it. Drive down the street and look at churches around Halloween and you'll see that we've done everything we can to try and cover up the fact that what we're celebrating is Halloween. In the last few weeks I've seen big signs in church yards for Fall Festivals and Neewollah parties (this one really gets me) and Harvest parties but not one has dared mention the word Halloween.
Just for fun, set up a little on camera interview with the little costumed creatures on the street next year and ask one question of each child, "Why do you celebrate Halloween?" I guarantee every child's answer will have something to do with candy. You won't find a single kid who will go into the dark history of the Holiday. The fact is, any child raised in a home that recognizes the opportunity for evil in the day will not be going door to door for candy but will be out in a field somewhere with their family dancing under the moon or whatever they do.
To the vast majority of the people in our country Halloween is an excuse to dress up and eat way too much candy. So instead of running away from Halloween, I acknowledge it (notice I didn't say, "embrace" or "love") and try to leverage it for a Godly purpose. See, I'm sick of Satan undermining every "Christian" holiday; He's materialized Christmas and made Easter about eggs and fluffy bunnies. So why not take a day that is supposed to be Satan's and turn it into an opportunity to engage the disconnected with Jesus?
So this year at Real Life we leveraged Halloween like never before. There was a flash-mob doing Michael Jackson's Thriller Dance to tease the October message series, Walking Dead (capitalizing on the popularity of the AMC television show by the same name). The first week of the series we took pictures of our people and "zombified" them for use on social media sites like Facebook. We saw some great conversations start as friends of friends asked questions about the pictures and our people got to tell them - not about Halloween, but about Jesus and what He was doing in their lives at Real Life. During this series leading up to Halloween we addressed the spiritual issues of those without Christ headed to a literal place called Hell and how in-Christ we believers are to die to ourselves and to sin - become walking dead in order to live for God in Christ. And we capped it off by handing out 1100 invitations to church, included in stuffed treat bags, that some decorated volunteers handed out during Trick-or-Treat down Main Street on the 31st. Around 6000 pieces of candy were given out and nearly each one came with an invitation to connect with Jesus.
Here is my opinion. We in the Christian community are not fooling a single non-believer with our Halloween hypocrisy. They know that, whatever we call it, we're celebrating Halloween. If we were really against Halloween we'd pretend it didn't exist. We wouldn't let our kids dress up. We'd preach against it and we certainly wouldn't do trunk-or-treats or invite people to our harvest parties or fall festivals and we wouldn't do these large-events on or near Halloween at all! Instead, by calling it something other than Halloween, two things occur. First, we make ourselves "feel" spiritually superior, because we're not calling what we do a Halloween event. And second we further alienate the very people we claim we're trying to reach with the Gospel.
So I use Halloween and the month of October to express spiritual truths and share the Gospel in a way that might connect with non-believers. Instead of standing on the corner telling everyone they are going to Hell (don't remember Jesus doing this to anyone...except the religious leaders). We have fun with it knowing that it simply provides us with an opportunity to have a conversation about Jesus instead of a discussion on the spiritual implications of Halloween. I don't run from Halloween because I see it as too valuable an opportunity to share the light of Christ Jesus with a dark world - and like Paul said, if we tried to get away from the darkness we'd have to leave this world. Instead, Paul tells us to avoid those who claim to live in the light but walk in darkness, so that we can find a way to connect with those who truly are in the dark about the light and love of Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-11).
By the way, October 2013's series will be called The Other Side and we'll deal with the often left alone subjects of Satan and how he works, demons, angels, Hell, etc. I'm sure we'll do it up big and try to once again leverage this opportunity for the glory of Jesus Christ. And God willing we'll see the light of Christ shine on those in the darkness.