Haunted House Makeover: How We Leveraged Halloween for God's Glory (Without Being Obnoxious or Heretical)
Last year on October 31st, 400 kids and teens came to our front door wanting candy. 400. I want to take a nap just typing that. If you're wondering why, it's due in large part to the fact that our house is on Sleepy Hollow Drive. Halloween sort of comes with the territory around here. In fact, when we moved in, our neighbor's first comment to us was, "You know about your house on Halloween, right?" "No." I replied. "Kids circle the block just to get there. Yours is the haunted house!" Of course he meant that the previous owners turned the place into a spooky extravaganza every year. All I heard was that the pressure was to keep up the hype.
As you can imagine, this put us in an awkward position as Christians. We weren't excited about boasting in the demonic and violent elements that haunted houses usually necessitate (good ones, at least). However, we REALLY didn't want to be those crotchety religious types that draw their curtains at the end of October with a sign on the door that says "good luck in Hell." Even worse, the ones who give out gospel tracts instead of candy for Halloween. Those folks should just be slapped in Jesus' name. It occurred to us that this could be our chance to redeem the holiday and leverage it for the glory of God. Our solution: King Size candy bars.
Every kid who made the climb up our front stairs (it's a fairly long climb since we're on a hill) got the shock of their trick-or-treating life as we dumped massive Twix, Snickers, Baby Ruth, Kit-Kat's and more into their bags. We had so many visitors that we ran out of bars, even though we had 300! It was such a cool thing to have our whole neighborhood literally right on our doorstep. The mission field came to us! We felt such a joy seeing the surprised faces of kids and parents as we gave them the goods. You know why we loved it so much? Because it generated one of the best questions in the universe for the lost world to asked the found: "Why?" And what an answer we have for that!
I don't know what your position is on Halloween. In fact, until the age of Twitter and Facebook, I didn't really know any Christian's position. Maybe you call it "Fall Festival", maybe you reject it altogether, maybe you haven't taken much time to consider the implications of participating. Maybe you just like candy and even though you're 18 you show up at my door wearing NO costume and demanding sweets. If that's you...yeesh. Wherever you are on this issue, my prayer is you would see this night not as something to flee from but something to engage with the gospel. God has been on a mission since the beginning to redeem His creation. He's gone into the dark world to bring a bright light. If you are a Christian reading this, it means He has sent you on that same mission too. Every moment should be seen as an opportunity for redemption for us. "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
This Halloween we'll be ready. Our church group helped us raise enough money to buy 640 King Size bars this year. Tonight we'll be handing them out with the help of 25 college students from our home group. Signs lead the way as you go up the steps. "When You Get To The Top, There's King Sized Bars, Cause There's Not a King As Generous As Ours!" On the way down, trick-or-treaters will see this verse: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23). We have students posted at the bottom of the house welcoming folks. Students at the top helping me and Kelly pass out candy and engage them in conversation, looking for opportunities to boast about Jesus to them. The house that was once known for being haunted on Halloween is now filled with the loving, giving Spirit of Christ and everyone who comes will encounter a little glimpse of Him, even if it's through an Almond Joy.
Here's a picture of the pumpkin I carved this year. In honor of "Reformation Day", may I present my homage to Mr. Luther. : )