Last Saturday, we invited our community to join us for the annual outreach event we call ‘Trunk or Treat.’ More than 200,000 pieces of candy, stickers, glow sticks and fake spiders were passed out to 3,100+ costume-donned families. It was one of those occasions where you couldn't help but look around and think…this is incredible!
Incredible in the sense that so many people came out on an otherwise miserable day weather-wise. Incredible in the sense that the spirit of both the visitors and our church family was one of fun, friendliness, togetherness, and goodwill. Incredible in the sense that almost half of those attending indicated they had no church affiliation. In my mind, any time you can bring together 3,500 people (including church volunteers), representing multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and a variety of religious faith, or no faith backgrounds…it’s simply an incredible win for the Kingdom.
Why? Because it’s the way God intended us to live—in community. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).
It’s easy to spend time with people we know, or with people that are like us. But it’s a discipline, something intentional, to build relationships with people who are different or don’t have the same beliefs. One of the great deceptions of the Christian faith is that it is content with the appearance of Christianity. It reassures itself that my faith is fine. I go to church, I give, I study, pray and am a good person. None of these things are bad, but if Christian subculture is all you are developing, you will miss opportunities to reach others for Christ.
“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
There will always be those who strongly believe the church should not recognize anything associated with Halloween. I’ve had a few express strong disapproval over how, as a Pastor, I can condone the celebration of evil. And, as a result of these concerns, every now and again, I’ll research the origin(s), evolution, and Americanization of Halloween. I really can’t find anything, (aside from Hollywood adaptations) that indicates a root of evil.
While there are many opinions about Halloween, something that the five major world religions, along with even those not associated with any faith, have in common is a sense of community. Community provides group cohesion and identity.
The Apostle Paul never compromised the gospel, but he did try to put himself in the shoes of those who were different from him so that he could open the door and communicate the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means, I might save some” 1 Corinthians 9:22).
As you greet neighbors and strangers at the door tonight for Halloween, may you be intentional in your words and spirit to reflect the love of Christ for all to see and hear.