guest blog: halloween and the PK

>> October 27, 2009

Halloween. Say that word in church and ears perk up; it’s rather funny. While we might not all agree on each ones perspectives; we can agree that it’s a controversial topic in the church world.

With the accessibility of modern research, I will leave the opportunity to Google and search for the history, origins, post-modern and modern fact, myths, info etc… to you and your free time for article length sake.

I will share with you what we do and why and you share with us what you do and why! How about that!

In the Brown Household, we have chosen to NOT celebrate Halloween in the traditional manner of “dress up” and “trick or treating." We have done one of the following things over the last three years:

· Hallelujah Night – equivalent to a fall festival
· Handing out candy (inside plastic 3”x4” jewelry bags) with shipping sized labels inviting people to our church. (label says: You're Invited & give church name, website, slogan)
· Decorating for Christmas (yes this is true) (haha)

Truth be told, my children are young; 3 & 5. They truthfully dress up EVERYDAY. As dramatic play is a big deal for them right now, on any given day, you can find Spiderman, The Hulk, A Police Officer or Fireman in my home. To them Halloween is just another day. They are actually into Buzzlight Year and Woody this year; so I’m sure those costumes will be purchased soon. They have no idea the purpose and history behind Halloween and why all these cool costumes are now only seasonally available. With our ministerial experience in dealing with witchcraft and demonic STUFF…., we opt to not celebrate in the traditional manner.

As for our church members, ministry friends, pastor friends, etc…. the Bible teaches us to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. There are essentials and non-essentials in our variation in beliefs, interpretation of Scripture, what we teach and live as an example to our flocks. As for raised eyebrows from church members, “raise on” because if I let them dress up and trick or treat, there will be talk. If I do not, there will be talk. I have grown to the point that their approval or disapproval means nothing to me. If my ways please the Lord, I am at peace with that – as that is my ultimate goal. To please my Father, be accountable to HIM for my children’s upbringing, instilment of values etc..

What do you do? How do you explain it to your kiddos?

Veronica Brown is the co-pastor, along with her husband, of Breath of Life Worship Center in Austin, TX. Her blog is a window into their lives -- pastoring, church planting, parenting, life in the motherhood, being married to the pastor/preacher and life in ministry.


Teri Lynne October 27, 2009 at 3:13 PM  

We celebrate Halloween ... yep, full out, watching scary shows (like "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"), costumes, jack-o-lantern carvings, and even a 3-ft inflatable Shrek as Frankenstein on the front porch of (insert gasp!) the parsonage.

Our church has a huge Trunk or Treat festival every year ON Halloween ... it's a great outreach to our community - we average about 300 people representing 130 families attend each year. One year we had over 500 people attend ... we have all kinds of games, a small hayride around our church campus, the aforementioned Charlie Brown movie playing in the youth room, and free hot dogs, snow cones (we're in the deep south here), drinks, and popcorn for everyone.

Every family registers and received an information packet about our church as well as the calendar of events through the holiday season. Each family receives a follow-up letter from one or more of our pastors (depending on ages of kids, etc) inviting them to church. Our children's pastor sends a postcard to each child who visits.

We have a great time ... and because it's all outside we end up with a lot of people who just drop by on their way to/from trick-or-treating. The response from people is always very positive.

This year, our daughter wanted a "real" Halloween party also ... so Friday night, she's having a few friends over and we're going to do an outdoor showing of a "Goosebumps" movie along with toasting marshmallows in the firepit, etc.

I agree with Veronica that this isn't a make or break issue ... certainly not worth the division it seems to bring each year to the Body of Christ as a whole.

Veronica Brown October 27, 2009 at 3:38 PM  

Teri - I love the idea of "every family registers" & they receive an information packet about the church etc....


ljcp,  October 27, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

My heart trembles whenever I see Christians celebrating Halloween. I do agree that it is good to plan fun, family centered activities for kids at that time. But what have the people of God to do with a day that is so wholly and distinctly Satan's?

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Rom. 12:9

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:21

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil. 4:8

Please dear sisters in Christ, consider carefully the choices you make and what avenues of the heart you leave open to Satan. Your children are special treasures given you from God, would you lay them open to our enemy?

Kendra Lee October 27, 2009 at 5:16 PM  

Breath of fresh air to see someone else not 'celebrating'. Too much history/knowledge of what Halloween is really, and having close friends whose relatives are 'witches' and into Wicca & Satanism, makes it hard to feel ok celebrating it. We've done the 'fall festival' thing in the past - which is really the same stuff as Halloween. THIS YEAR, my husband is leading us (our church) to be IN the town's Halloween Parade - our float will be playing the CARTOON Song and everyone walking with the float is wearing cartoon characters from the song. Yabba-dabba-do ya :D. I had a hard time with it at first, but have realized that we're singing Hallelujah to Jesus IN the community where the people are and hopefully being a light to what truly is a dark holiday.

Loved that you said "everyone has to work out their own salvation..." So true. We'll be judged if we participate... and we've been judged for not participating...

Kendra Lee October 27, 2009 at 5:19 PM  

Teri Lynn - we did Trunk or Treat last year. It was another fun way to be OUT in the community, sharing His light on Halloween.

I also like the idea of reverse trick or treating... Giving candy TO the houses with info about the church or tracts etc. :p In the past we stayed in what my hubby calls a "holy huddle" on Halloween, so it's nice to be out there sharing Him instead!!

Melody October 27, 2009 at 8:49 PM  

We do trick or treating in our household, dress up in costumes and have had Halloween parties in the past. When we do these things we aren't celebrating satan, witches or demons. We're just having fun dressing up and doing crazy and fun things. Kids enjoy it and so do the adults. We don't feel the need to try and spiritualize it by dressing up in Bible Costumes....I'm sorry, but dressing up as Abraham and Sarah just isn't as fun as Batman and Batgirl. And while I don't have an issue with passing out literature for our church....we don't. We just have fun and don't necessarily make an agenda out of it. And maybe we're missing an incredible opportunity here but I just see it as having fun without turning it into something else. I think it's neat that people are using it as a platform to get the word out about their church and maybe we do that in the future.

Star Forbis October 28, 2009 at 9:31 PM  

I feel like, why should we sit back & just give satan a day all his own?! I love being able to encourage imagination in my kids! I loved dressing up when I was a kid, & having my kids dress up as well.

The Churches we have been on staff at have big Harvest Festivals with Blow up jump houses & slides, games, And tons of candy, live music, etc. And we have over 1000 people from our community grace the property of the Church. We give out our Churches times of services & what ministries we have. We have registration & raffles, to get their information to send out invitations to Church as well. And every year we have taken families from our public school or neighborhood, who are unchurched. Who otherwise may never have stepped foot in a Church.

On years when our Church hasn't had a Harvest Fest. due to the economy, weather, etc. We have taken our kids Trick or Treating & mingled with our neighbors. I feel It's a great way to connect with our community!

Angela De Souza November 2, 2009 at 4:46 PM  

I haven't quite got it figured out yet, I don't care what people think about how we do or do not celebrate it, and I don't like reading witchy sort of stories to my children it just gives me the creeps and also I don't like seeing gorgeous children dressed up in halloween outfits. Some halloweens I ignore the doorbell & others I anwer & give the children sweets. One Halloween my children dresses up as angels and tooks sweets & tracts door to door & on other occasions we have ignored the whole thing. So all in all I don't pay much attention to it really & don't judge how other people handle it either.

I like the way Holly Furtick has blogged her pumpkin week, that we very creative wasn't it :)

Sarah November 3, 2009 at 5:36 PM  

We celebrate Hallowe'en in the sense that it is All Hallows Eve, or the eve of All Saints Day, the day traditionally set aside by the church to celebrate and remember all the saints who have gone before us.

Hallowe'en has been recognized for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years as the day where we mock Satan. It may have begun in some pagan cultures as "his day," but the church doesn't recognize it as such. We are responsible to take those pagan things and plunder them for the glory of God. Satan doesn't have a day, but if someone were to ask why we "give him a day," you can say "Really? This fearsome, powerful demon has a day where three-feet-tall children go out dressed as horned cartoon-devils?" That's how fearful Satan should be to us. We laugh at him, and tell him that he is over. He is real, he is here, but he has been conquered, and he is defeated. He is powerless, and he is impotent. Christ is victorious; he threw Satan down and crushed his head with his death and resurrection. My children know their catechism, and they recall their baptisms and cry out, "I belong to Christ." There is nothing threatening to them because they know to whom they belong.

On Halloween my kids dress up (though not as evil things, per se, and we have given thought to that more this year than in the past) and we take them trick-or-treating in the traditional way. But that is just the warm-up to November 1, when our church has an all-out block party for All Saints Day. It used to be "Reformation Day" on Hallowe'en, and there was a reason Luther chose Hallowe'en to nail his theses to the door---but in our desire to be more ecumenical, we shifted to All Saints Day on the 1st. It's a riot, and we've been having so much fun with it, it will become our new tradition. This year we had a big bouncy slide for the kids; crawfish races, hot, fresh beignets, sno-cones, a gumbo and jambalaya cook-off, a dance contest, sidewalk chalk art, a Blue Dog art contest, and arm wrestling. (Our theme this year was Cajun---I'm in Louisiana, by the way.)

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