Editor's note:Christians differ onhowandifHalloween should be
acknowledged. Some choose not to participate at all. Others send their children
to church-sponsored "festival" events. Still others use it as an opportunity to
get to know non-Christians in their communities. We encourage you to find ways
to use the annual event to build gospel-sharing bridges with
hurried up the sidewalk. I couldn't wait to reach the next
house. Every Halloween, my sister and I each got a whole Snickers™ from the
doctor's widow who lived here. I could feel the added weight in my bag as Mrs.
Jergens plunked down that gooey treat.
But Halloween has changed since those carefree years when I dressed as a
majorette and strutted up and down the familiar streets of my Chicago
neighborhood. Today, hospital X-ray machines scan for dangerous objects hidden
in candy. Youths who dabble in the occult make front-page headlines. My
children have been lured by books from spookmaster R.L. Stine. The age of
innocent holiday fun has ended.
Now, on some Halloweens, I turn off the porch light to hide from
trick-or-treaters. But that may not be the right response.
"If we've got people walking the street, we can be out there sharing with
them something that will make a difference in their lives," says Jaye
Martin, family evangelism associate/ director of women's evangelism for the
North American Mission Board. "I like the idea of turning Halloween into an
Jaye practices what she preaches. Her daughter's birthday, which falls near
Halloween, provided the family an opportunity to be on mission. During
childhood party years, friends were invited to attend the birthday party, which
began an hour before their local congregation's fall festival. Jaye presented
the plan of salvation to guests, then led partygoers through the church. As a
result, "this gave us many opportunities to talk about the Lord."
Jaye views Halloween as an open door to witnessing. And even though the
holiday might begin with children, associated seasonal events can provide
multi-generational opportunities to reach people for Christ. Consider these
Trade treats for tracts
If children drop by at Halloween, be prepared to drop something with lasting
value into their candy sacks. Many children's tracts are appropriate as free
gifts at Halloween. The North American Mission Board has resources that could
make Halloween an outreach time at your house.
"Sharing God's Special Plan With Children" is a gospel tract designed for
children (0840087225, pack of 25/$7.50).
Another children's gospel tract is "An Important Question for an Important
Person." It is available in English and Spanish (0840088256, 10 cents
If teens find their way to your door, the new student tract "Life on The
Edge?" wraps the gospel in a contemporary package (0840085338, pack of
All of these tracts, and many other evangelistic items, are available at
your local LifeWay Christian Store or by calling 800-448-8032.
The American Tract Society has tracts for use during Halloween and other
specific events. Contact them at 800-548-7228 or on the Web at
Yet everyone does not embrace these ideas. Even acknowledging a holiday with
pagan overtones makes some Christians shudder. Some point to 1
Thessalonians 5:22, 1 Timothy 4:7 and Leviticus 19:26 as scriptural passages
that direct believers to avoid all connection with the holiday. One veteran
youth pastor understands these feelings. He explains, "We naturally try to
avoid this time of year because we see it as being Satan's day." With
God-fearing people on both sides of the issue, Halloween has emerged as a
lightning rod issue in the Christian community.
There's no question that today's society supports the holiday. Candy sales
skyrocket come October. Each year, an increasing number of employees are
invited or encouraged to come to work in costume, and consumers gear up for a
last gasp of fun before settling in for the serious push toward Christmas.
Whether or not you choose to boycott pumpkins on the porch, the emergence of
Halloween as the second largest retail event of the year offers at least the
potential for intentional outreach.
Cathy Bell has proof. As the music and special event coordinator at Two
Rivers Church in Nashville, Tennessee, she has helped bring 15,000 people through the annual Judgement House™ each
"This program is such a great tool," she says. "It steps over the grounds of
normal church life and goes a little into the secular world."
In recent years, 300-400 volunteers have been involved in Judgement House™.
Their results have paid off--as a direct result of the last Halloween program,
754 attendees made professions of faith. But that hasn't been the only
The time: Fall 1983
The place: Bethel Baptist Church, Moody, Alabama
The problem: "What do you do with Halloween?"
The church youth group answered the question in two words: haunted house.
But youth pastor Tom Hudgins felt a Christian response was needed to offset the
growing secular interest in Halloween. He and his enthusiastic volunteers took
the concept and changed the message. The resulting Judgement House™ became a
Halloween alternative and attracted 500 people, including 60 who made decisions
for Christ. During the following year, the response was "even more incredible,"
remembers Tom. "We've had revivals without that kind of response."
Those initial years merely set the stage for what has exploded into a major
outreach effort adopted by individual congregations. In 1998, a total of
229,521 people in 17 states went through Judgement House™ sites. As a result,
37,360 people made decisions for Christ.
Judgement House™ is an eight-scene drama "that presents what we believe the
Bible teaches about heaven, hell and the joy of having a relationship with
Jesus," says Hudgins. Without using "scare you into heaven" tactics, scripts
are updated annually to present relevant situations. Now administered through
the non-profit New Creation Evangelism, Inc., Hudgins says the program is
successfully used in churches of all sizes. Although Judgement House™ is still
primarily a Halloween alternative, some congregations use the program as an
"There is such an excitement among youth about personal evangelism after
they've participated in corporate evangelism," says Hudgins. "They are
definitely prepared to go into their schools and be more bold."
Although Judgement House™ began as a youth event, the program has grown
beyond that. Hudgins uses his own congregation in Clearwater, Florida, as an
"We've bridged the generation gap," he says. "Two years ago, a 92-year-old
man who came through Judgement House™ received Christ."
Success stories and testimonies flood the New Creation office, which offers
regular training at various geographic sites. The next sessions are scheduled
October 22-23, Clearwater, Florida
October 29-30, Macon, Georgia
November 5-6, Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
For more information, contact New Creation Evangelism, Inc., at 727-449-1100
"Outreach has a different look," Cathy says. "Our need for volunteers
brought out a lot of people who weren't all that evangelistic before and gave
them a hunger and a taste for what true evangelism is."
Yet it doesn't take participation in a major holiday celebration at church
to be on mission. At Halloween, witnessing just may be a bit easier because the
mission field literally knocks and waits.
"When I stand at the door and reach out with a snack, I remember Isaiah
55:11," says a mother of two.
Like others, she views Halloween as a time when people let down their guard
and become a little more open. This mom has learned that combining prayer and
outreach creates a powerful tool. And that's a valuable lesson to put into
practice on any day of the year.
Dr. Mary Manz Simon is a columnist for Parent Life and
Christian Parenting Today, and hosts the nationally syndicated radio
program "Front Porch Parenting" heard daily on almost 200 Christian radio
stations. Her books have sold 1.5 million copies.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC