Church-o-ween: Would Jesus Go To Fall Festival?

Well it is October 30, the day before Halloween. Tomorrow my church and churches all over our great nation will host events such as Fall Festival, Harvest Festival or something closely akin to that. The purpose behind this is to offer an alternative to the “evil celebrations” of Halloween. Millions of dollars will be spent in an effort to draw children and families to our churches so that we can treat them to some wholesome family fun. In years past, I have even been given the responsibility to plan said event for our community.

Let me begin by saying that I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong with them. However, in light of the dialogue (albeit, one-sided) that we have been having about churches and, more specifically, Christ-followers, adopting more missional approaches to reaching the not-yet Christian, I present to you an opinion that I came across on one of the blogs that I frequent. This may make more sense to you if you take time to read some of my series of blogs on this subject. Go ahead, I will wait right here.

Author: Anthony Bradley
Source: World Magazine On The Web

Every year on October 31st many churches celebrate Halloween alternatives, what some call “Halloween in disguise,” with “Harvest” or “Fall” festivals. I read about this over at About.com. Candy, costumes, games, and everything Halloween except for the “evil stuff.” Why do churches do this?

Isn’t Halloween one of the best opportunities Jesus followers have to love their neighbors and build relationships for the Gospel with them? Jesus tended to not escape his context for “the shire” but brought the Kingdom to it. Isn’t following Jesus is a call to mission and live all of life for the Kingdom? A missional church sees itself as a local missionary and takes every opportunity to be incarnational, indigenous, and intentional.

Every Christian is a local missionary and avoiding non-Christians on Halloween seems odd to some of us. Isn’t it an evangelisitic dream come true to have such an easy opportunity to have non-Christians come to your home in your own neighborhood? If we want non-Christian families in our neighborhoods to meet Jesus shouldn’t we at least be home when they come knocking on our doors?

Since most American non-religious observances celebrate evil —Thanksgiving (gluttony), Valentines Day (lust), St. Patrick’s Day (drunkenness) — why create an alternative religious counterfeit on Halloween? ( NOTE: Okay, I’ll have to admit I disagree with this particular line of reasoning as Thanksgiving is really not primarily about gluttony- although you probably could construe that from the size of my plate. But I think the author’s point is well taken.) After all, what message is the church sending to the world by ‘circling the wagons’ and avoiding our neighborhoods?

Given the fact that Jesus and the apostles did not retreat from evil (Mark 2:13-14; Acts 14:8-20; Acts 17:16-34), I’m not so sure they would go to a church “harvest festival” on Halloween. It seems like Jesus followers, following the Kingdom-oriented mission of Christ, would see October 31st as a strategic missional opportunity to build relationships in their neighborhoods to later reveal where evil comes from and God’s solution for it. Why isn’t Halloween about being “salt and light?” What am I missing?

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