(This is a blog I originally posted in October, 2007. My husband Scott wrote the following article about how Christians may interact with the holiday of Halloween if costumed children show up at your front door on Trick-or-Treat, or Beggar’s Night, or whatever your community calls it.)
What are your plans for trick-or-treat this year? Will you lock the door, turn off the porch light and retire to the basement? Will you go shopping, or out to eat? Or will you embrace the reality that dozens of little lost souls are parading up to your front door with their hands out, asking you to give them something — anything?
For the first few years of our marriage, Joy and I were the former. To us, participating in any Halloween activity was an endorsement of the demonic. It meant we were OK with the fake human cadavers and the blood-soaked mock murder scenes up and down our street. To us, Halloween had gone way too far, and we were not about to participate. In hindsight, that was not a biblical response.
As years went by, we became convicted as we began to see that the Bible calls us to have a much different attitude toward society. Instead of burying our heads in the sand and plugging our ears, we are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Instead of turning our backs on what’s going on in society, we are to shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15). Salt cannot have a seasoning effect if it is left in the cupboard. It must come in contact with blandness before its saltiness can be realized.
Not to mention the biblical commands to show hospitality (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9). By holing up in our house, we were sending an unspoken message “not welcome” to our closest neighbors, many of whom we had never met — and many of whom probably didn’t know Christ.
We often think of hospitality as entertaining friends in our home for a meal. But the true definition of hospitality differs on three levels. First, hospitality doesn’t necessarily involve an invitation. Secondly, hospitality is extended to strangers, not friends. And thirdly, hospitality isn’t limited to your home.
If you want to get really technical, hospitality is making an uninvited stranger feel welcome in the space where God has placed you, no matter where that is. It can mean welcoming a stranger into your office at work. It can mean extending a warm greeting to a new face at church. It can mean putting your briefcase in your lap on the bus so someone can sit next to you. There are hundreds of other examples.
Halloween is a magnificent opportunity to show the love of Christ to strangers, which moves us much closer to the true definition of hospitality. Sure, these passing strangers are dressed funny and are lugging candy-filled pillow cases. But consider that no other 2-hour window during the year affords us such an obvious opportunity to reflect the glory of Christ to our community.
Joy and I still hand out candy like everyone else, but we include an invitation card to our church. It is subtle. But each time we drop one in a bag, we lift up a prayer that the card will make its way into a home that needs Christ, or that needs a church home. Our job is to plant the seeds and God will grant the fruit in His providence. You may want to use Gospel tracts. Either way, it’s a tremendous opportunity to reach out to the neighborhood with the message of hope.
It was only a few years ago that God helped me to see that as a believer, I had something of infinite value to offer to the witches, goblins, super heroes and scarecrows — and their parents — who graced our front door every year. And that removing myself from trick-or-treat was a terrible mistake. I was wasting our opportunity to simply show the love of Christ, drop an invitation to church into their pillow case — and who knows, maybe even start a conversation that leads to sharing the Gospel.
So this year, don’t retreat to the back bedroom or the basement. Turn on all the outside lights. Open your door and do everything you can to make your house an outpost of heaven — and your life a salty seasoning to your lost neighbors who need Christ. You won’t have this easy an opportunity until next year!