By Rodney Rathmann
Dressing up at Halloween allows us to pretend in a fun way that never seems to grow old. Whether or not we find ourselves wearing their identifying costumes, action heroes capture our imagination. Through comic books and movies, children of all ages follow their exploits with interest, admiring their athleticism, power, and unrelenting attacks on injustice. We wish we, too, could scale walls with the skill of a spider and bound from building to building with superhuman strength to help and save others.
In Christ Jesus, we have the ultimate superhero. And he is real—really a man and really God. Because he is human, he know and understands us. Because he is God, he has the power to achieve ultimate justice in order to help and save. He showed his power by taking on all the sins ever committed and defeating once and for all the forces of evil, even death itself.
God’s Word tells us to be imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). That’s a tall order. Still, God doesn’t give us a task without also giving us the power to do it. It’s a superpower and it comes to us through the working of his Holy Spirit. Empowering us through God’s Word, the Spirit helps us develop the relationships through which we can become heroes in the lives of others, through the opportunities he also provides.
This Halloween season, consider working together with other guys to “celebrate the season.” By organizing and facilitating fall events, you can build the relationships through which others—especially children and youth—can get to know you, and through you, your Savior. Consider the following ideas. Combine or adapt these suggestions for your situation. Look for ways to make your fall festival or Halloween alternative event meaningful as well as fun.
Organize a “Trunk or Treat”
- Involve families and the youth of your congregation in decorating cars for children to visit to gather candy. Give a prize for the most unique vehicle decoration. As much as possible, engage trick-or-treaters in personal conversation. Comment and ask about costume choices and preparation.
- Be sure to provide candy children are likely to appreciate and remember. We have an abundantly generous God. We can reflect His generosity in the way we share with others. Don’t skimp on the candy.
Host a Fall Festival or Halloween Alternative Party
- Invite children to come in costume. Give prizes for best historical, most original, most realistic, most (like someone) local, best nonhuman, best occupation-related, best congregation-relating (child dressed as shepherd at a sponsoring congregation named Good Shepherd, etc.).
- Feature great refreshments and simple, fun games (for example, eating donuts off a string, bobbing for apples, and a bean bag throw). As an extension, organize tournaments with playoffs and award small prizes.
- Work one-on-one with children to carve or decorate pumpkins that children can take home with them.
Take It Outdoors
- Jesus camped out and cooked and ate with friends around a campfire. He traveled, taught, and even slept in a boat. Put your creativity to work in organizing a hayride or boat glide. Give hayrides on an improvised trailer-hayrack pulled by a lawn tractor. Give children rides around the parking lot in a trailer-mounted boat.
- Build “bonfires” on one or more firepits brought from home so children can roast marshmallows, cook hot dogs, and make smores.
Sponsor a Pumpkin Patch
- Secure a donation of pumpkins of various sizes. Spread these within a designated area.
- With a donated admission, allow children to choose a pumpkin to take home. Advertise that money collected will go to a designated ministry or charity.
- Set the event apart by hiding motion-activated farm animals (these are small, easily hidden, and may be purchased at the local dollar store).
Time at the Tombs
- At a time of year when our popular culture seems overly focused on fear and death, we, as God’s people, might choose to take the issue head-on. We worship a Savior who once rested in a grave, but God raised him back to life again. Those trusting in him need not fear anything. He has defeated even death itself for us. One day he will restore life to all who died believing in him. Prepare children for a visit to a cemetery by stressing the need to be respectful.
- Allow children to search the cemetery and report back on tombstones they find that bear a strong Christian witness.
- Bring paper and chalk or crayons and allow children to do rubbing of symbols on tombstones that provide a witness to faith in Jesus. Assemble and discuss the symbols and their message.
- Conduct a scavenger hunt with a search for the person having the longest life, oldest birth or burial date, etc.
- Conclude the event with a devotion celebrating Jesus and his power over death. Comment on the origin of Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Saints’ Day on November 1 in the traditional church calendar. Point out that all who live and die believing in Jesus are saints, made holy by the power of the Spirit of God through Jesus and his forgiving love.
In any event you choose, look for opportunities to build relationships with those who attend. Follow up by greeting and talking with those you meet when you see them in church or in other settings. Our best and most important heroes are those we know and talk with personally, repeatedly—heroes like Jesus himself.
Editor’s note: Find all CTA’s fall festival and Halloween-alternative products here.
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