Making It About More Than Candy

Halloween_TrunkorTreat2So I got on a little soapbox yesterday.  Halloween alternatives, whether you call it Trunk or Treat, Harvest Party, or Fall Festival, still offer plenty of opportunities to get ghouls and goblins onto the church property.  And while I don’t think that’s the end-all-be-all of ministry, if we’re gonna do it – let’s do it well.  Here are a few thoughts about making your ‘church thing for Halloween’ more about the people than the candy.

a)  A sermon series on demons or gluttony should probably NOT be the series you promote at Trunk or Treat – begin something on Sunday that helps families where they are…parenting, marriage enrichment, etc.

b)  If you’re gonna hand out a butt-load of candy, give them some gospel, too.  Get your candy together early enough that you can attach scripture to every single piece.  It might be the only Bible some people ever bring into their homes.

c)  Make sure every single children’s Bible study worker has a spotlight – whether it’s a stellar trunk, a specific game booth, or the only folks dressed as clowns.  And then coach them how to enter a conversation with a child who they think might be the right age for their class.  “Well hi there – I love your costume!  Thanks for coming today – are you getting loads of candy?  What grade are you in?  OOOOHHHHHH –  a second grader!!  Let me introduce you to Miss Penny, she has a group of second graders that she hangs out with every Sunday!”  And then….introduce them to Miss Penny!

d)  Remind everyone to give THEIR NAMES to the grown ups in the group.  So whether they strike up conversation with the kids or the parents, end every conversation with “We are so glad you came – I’m Darren – it’s a pleasure to have you join us. ”  If folks return for a visit, they want to feel like they know someone.  (By the way, this requires planning ahead for volunteers and training….it’s always about more than warm bodies policing the bounce house!)

e)  Make sure you have an apparatus for collecting information – whether it’s door prize drawings, wristbands for games and rides, or Identi-Kid.  Have someone pre-planned to do data entry…even beginning that night if possible.  Within two days, send a note or e-mail thanking them for visiting and inviting them to the next ‘thing’ or sermon series…something you have planned specifically to be a re-engagement opportunity for the community.  (If you’re especially ambitious, a hand-written note speaks volumes…make sure it’s legible!)

f)  Adults love candy, too!  And there’s always a haul left over after events like this.  Rather than going on the ‘carbs first’ diet in the office, package up small candy-grams with a note of appreciation and invitation to church and deliver them to the elementary teachers in your area.  Their gonna need their own candy-coma after dealing with the weaponized sugar-high coming from their classroom in the days following Halloween.

Offering community engagement on your church campus is a great idea.  Remember the purpose!  Be intentional!!  And swipe a few packages of Skittles for me….

Trick or Treat By Any Other Name…

jesus jackolanternWarning. I’m ranting – so move along if you need to.

Somewhere, we decided that Halloween was bad – and we were going to offer an ‘alternative’ (that strangely looks just like Halloween huddled up on our parking lot.) And then we heartily pat ourselves on the back because 700 people show up for free candy and a dunking booth. We don’t get their names, We don’t REALLY meet them, because this time they’re actually wearing real ‘masks’.  And somehow we think we have accomplished ministry.  And we’ll do the same thing for our Christmas program, Easter pageant, and July 4th celebration.

Inviting them to spend time on our property is NOT enough – it doesn’t matter if we’re giving them candy corn or a worship bulletin. If Christians would actually leave the building, something amazing could happen every day – not just the days we’ve decided are worthy of letting the commoners come into the palace.

And when those ‘commoners’  (princes and princesses by the standard of One) do come into the palace, you better forge a relationship.  You could be standing in the presence of royalty.

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