Redeeming Halloween: Trick or Treat?

October 25, 2023 | Rob Bloss

I don’t remember our family making a big deal about Halloween one way or another. My brother and I had one simple goal for the night of October 31...get all the candy you can, as fast as you can!

We would throw a costume together using whatever we could find around the house, grab a pillowcase from our bed, meet up with a few of friends in the neighborhood and ring as many doorbells as we could. We skipped a few houses...the ones that looked too scary or vacant and the ones we heard were only giving out pieces of fruit...but most of our neighbors knew us by name even though we were well-disguised cowboys, football players and lion tamers.

At the end of the night, we would unload our goods on gold shag carpet in our living room. After my dad took his share, we would count and sort and trade and sample the spoils of the evening before my mom would stash it away in a secret place. She could then limit our intake to the couple of pieces she would drop into our lunch bags.

When it came to my own kids, the church I was serving held an alternative Fall Festival where kids could dress up in appropriate costumes, play games and fill their small pumpkins with goodies. That eventually gave way to a Trunk or Treat event held in the church parking lot.

Christians have debated whether or not to celebrate Halloween, and there are faithful Christ-followers on both sides of the debate. Parents must decide for their families. In my current season of life, I’m somewhat tempted to turn off the porch lights and sit it out. No costumes. No tricks. No treats.

But here’s the question I ask myself: Can God redeem this night of ghosts and goblins and use it for good? Can he help me make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16)? I believe those questions are rhetorical. He can. He’s God!

But how? What might that look like practically?

Here’s a short list of ideas:

  • Think Fall Fellowship...trick or treat early and then gather with your neighbors around a fire pit and enjoy some hotdogs, smore’s, cider and hot cocoa. Play some games together and share some stories.
  • Instead of having kids ring your doorbell, set up chairs in the driveway. Make it warm and inviting with a fire or a few candles. Provide hot drinks to the parents who often stand in the shadows watching over their kids filling their bags and buckets.
  • Create an alternative display with festive fall decorations and praise music playing in the background. Give away those bracelets that light up to make sure kids are seen when they dart across the street at night.
  • If you’re taking your children trick-or-treating, carry your own plastic pumpkin and fill it with tiny treats – a fall votive candle, fall-flavored tea bags, or individually wrapped bags of cheese or caramel corn - to share with the neighbors you already know or want to meet. Add a tag with your name and contact information and maybe a scripture verse.
  • Create fun, God-focused stickers for each candy bar. Stickers can be used on full-sized and mini bars of candy, a bag filled with candy, or lollipops, to name a few. Some ideas for stickers could include "God loves you," "God knows You by Name," and "God cares for you." The simpler, the better.
  • If you live far from the rest of humanity and expect zero trick-or-treaters, think about dropping by something special to a few families you feel God is leading you to build a deeper connection and share Christ’s love with.
  • Whatever you do, avoid creepy, scary and weird! Instead choose friendly, kind, generous, approachable and genuine!

I want to get to know my neighbors. I want to pray for my neighbors, care for my neighbors and share Christ with my neighbors. And I want my neighbors to know me! Using Halloween to take even a small step in the direction of developing meaningful relationships with my neighbors seems like a way to redeem the night.

People are out of their houses and generally in good spirits (no pun intended!) on Halloween. It’s a good chance to start building relationships – not to make our neighbors a “missions project,” but to get to know them and love them, just like Jesus would.

What we learned last year, during our first Halloween in our new home, is that there are a bunch of kids who are wired just like me and my brother. I was hoping for leftovers now that my kids are out of the house and I have no candy toll to collect, but we were out of candy long before the steady stream of firemen and princesses faded.

So, this year we plan to be ready! Yes, that means more candy, but it also means being more prayerful and intentional about our connections with people in our neighborhood, shining his light in the darkness and opening my eyes, ears and heart. Because maybe, just maybe, there is a Nicodemus behind one of those masks!