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Redeeming Halloween (Shea Sumlin)

 

halloween

Once a celebration of an old Celtic tradition, Halloween is now the second most celebrated family holiday in America. Nearly 70% of Americans will participate in some form or fashion, and it’s the only night of the year where the world around me actually comes to my door – that of a pastor.

With that in mind, I want to share just one of the ways my family and I have decided to redeem this night, not only as an opportunity for some fun together, but also as an opportunity to invest the gospel into the community around us.

Most of the places we’ve lived have been in suburban neighborhoods that are full of kids who love to go trick or treating. 150-250 kids come by our door on Halloween – no doubt because we give out really good candy!

Years ago, one of my mentors challenged me to redeem this night by taking advantage of the context I live in. He challenged me to take some creative steps to get these folks to linger for awhile, instead of just grabbing the goods and taking off. The idea that evolved: “HALLOWEENies & BOOgers.”

For this event, my family and I invite over 200 families in our surrounding neighborhood to join us for some hot dogs and hamburgers while they’re out trick or treating. We show It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on our garage door for the kids, put up some fun decorations and serve plenty of hot cocoa and apple cider.

In addition to being a ton of fun for our family and neighborhood, it provides other redemptive wins.

  1. Gives us an opportunity to connect and build relationships with our neighbors and their friends. This night continues to build already existing relationships with our neighbors, as well as establish new ones. From this one event, we have scheduled many dinners with neighbors, been invited to kids’ birthday parties and built more touch points with those around us.
  2. Gives us an opportunity to share the hope of the gospel. Because we’ve gotten the neighborhood to “linger,” we’ve been able to establish conversations with them. Because we’ve opened up conversations with them, we’ve been able to share our testimony and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just last year I met a guy who was going through a divorce and struggling with a drug addiction. I shared the gospel with him, connected him with a counselor and helped him plug into a local church. He has since trusted in Jesus Christ as his Savior.
  3. Involves my whole family in the process. What a great opportunity for my three daughters to see creativity and evangelism play out on a night like this. Each year my girls get more and more excited to invite their classmates and friends over for Halloween.
  4. Involves other Christian families in our neighborhood. Over the years other Christian families in our neighborhood have partnered with us for this event. Together we host the event, gather names of folks in the neighborhood and pray for the families.
  5. Most significant for us – the missional investment of the church.Rather than taking my family out of the neighborhood on the one night of the year when everyone is walking my street and coming to my door, it keeps us in our own neighborhood and allows us to make a gospel-centered deposit right where we live.

This is just one idea for redeeming Halloween. I’m not sure of your context or conviction when it comes to this holiday, but maybe our story will encourage you. Consider creative ways that the Lord could use you and your family to be salt and light on what has, historically, been a dark night for the world around us.

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