31 October 2014
Halloween: Obstacle or Opportunity?
For many Christians, today is seen as one of the darkest of the year. Evil is glorified and often seen as just a bit of harmless fun. Zombies, ghosts and bloodied characters roam the streets, knocking on doors to seek out sweet treats. Shrieks and screams can be heard throughout the night, among much laughter and giggling.
But how are we, as Christians, to respond to all this commotion? Should we keep our doors firmly shut and pray against the powers of darkness? Or should we just lighten up and go with the flow in case we stand out as kill-joys? Or perhaps we should be thinking more about how we could "reverse the curse", so to speak, and see this as a golden opportunity to get the message of the gospel out there. After all, that's what happened with Christmas, isn't it?
Christmas time was initially celebrated a pagan festival, but some very clever, mission-minded Christians realised the amazing potential this presented and so pioneered an alternative. It's become one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities for the Church. For many people it's the only time of the year you'll find them in a church. The story of Christ's birth is retold and the good news is heard.
As a young boy I remember having trick-or-treaters knocking at the door and feeling quite intimidated by them, especially as a Christian. But my dad saw it as an opportunity to share the message of Jesus with them. It was always surprising to see how open these children and young people were. Dad would always give them a gift after speaking with them and more often than not they would end up praying together.
Out of all of the houses that they visited, I bet our house was the one that would stand out and be remembered. And as Christians, that's what we've been called to do. We're not meant to simply go with the flow of society - we've been created to be different.
My dad's evangelistic efforts greatly inspired me. For the past five years, rather than our church closing its doors and buckling up for a bombardment of evil, we open our doors wide to the local community and invite people in.
We offer an alternative event called All Treat No Trick. The idea is to love people and celebrate light, life and Jesus Christ - the ultimate demon crusher. Free goodie packs, glow sticks and tracts are given out at a packed-out church. Many of these people wouldn't usually be there.
When the world is at its darkest, it's an opportunity for us to shine the brightest. The devil does not own 31 October, in fact, every day belongs to God, the creator of time. By offering an alternative and sharing the good news, we are reclaiming what's already His!
How else could we use 31 October as a missional opportunity? Feel free to get in touch if there's any way we can encourage you in your missional efforts this year.
Written by Dan Harman
Dan Harman leads City Life Church in Portsmouth with his wife Laura. Dan also oversees an inter-denominational conference for engaging, inspiring and networking churches, charities and ministries, called GATEWAY.