On a radio show I was hosting during the month of October, I posed a couple of questions to the listeners around the topic of Halloween: Do you allow your children to participate in it? Do you allow costumes of any kind?
Calls ensued with big feelings on both sides, some expressing outrage that Christians would allow a child to participate in pagan rituals, while others saw the holiday as an innocent exercise in fun they could confidently filter for their children. My cohost and I were moderating the conversation, listening with understanding for both sides, when one caller offered a point of view that changed my thinking on Halloween forever.
“It’s my most relationally evangelistic night of the year,” he started. “I get a chance to sit on my driveway and look my neighbors in the eye. I can ooh and ahh over their children and go above and beyond to serve the adults snacks when kids come up for candy. It’s my hope to leave them a positive impression of a Christian I can build on later.”
I’ve never looked at October 31 the same way. Now I ask myself these questions to maximize the opportunity we have in this season to grow, teach, share.
3 Questions to Help Christians Love Their Neighbor Well on Halloween
1. What am I offering my neighbors?
I still don’t like ghost and witch costumes. I think if people understood the reality of darkness, they wouldn’t see it as funny or a form of entertainment. But when I use what might have been intended for evil to instead advance the kingdom of light, it feels redeeming. So now I offer coffee to the adults who come to my porch. I make small talk and try to remember who I engaged with so when Christmas comes, I can offer them each a plate of cookies and take another step toward community engagement.
2. How can I be curious about my neighborhood?
Now, Halloween has become one of my favorite nights of the year, and when I ask questions such as “Which house do you live in?” or “How old is your little Elsa?” I hope they hear curiosity from someone who is interested in who they are. I try and write down as many answers as I can, so when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around and I drop off treats and cards, I can be as intentional and relational as possible. At the least, they have the impression someone who knows God is kind. At the most, we have a meaningful conversation where I can share the reason for the hope I have.
3. What am I teaching my children?
I can tell them to be set apart. I can make sure we don’t listen/do/watch/wear/participate in almost anything. The world doesn’t align with us, and if I wanted, I could make a case against most of it. But where does that leave us? Isolated and insulated and God has asked us to be salt and light. Halloween is just one example in the hundreds of chances I’ll have this year to show my children how to be in the world, but not of it.
So here’s to gathering around a driveway firepit, throwing in some sugar and hot coffee, and loving my neighbor as myself.