Halloween and Church Outreach: Trick or Treat?

Is Halloween something that should be embraced by the church? Or is it evil and should be avoided?

Christian belief and practice were not formed in isolation from the surrounding culture. Many early elements of Christian worship — including eucharistic meals, meals honoring martyrs and much early Christian funerary art — would have been familiar rituals to pagan observers. And from the mid-fourth century on — after Constantine converted to Christianity — Christians deliberately adapted and Christianized pagan festivals (Biblical Archaeology, “How December 25 became Christmas”).

When the church incorporates secular traditions, remembrances, and holidays that primarily come from our culture and history like Mother’s Day or Veterans Day, the secular can be transformed and become a vehicle for faith. What if Halloween became a way for your church to reach out to families in your neighborhood? Or a safe space for members of your congregation to bring their children?

Recent research confirms that two-thirds of Protestant pastors see Halloween as an opportunity to reach out to their community and encourage members to invite their neighbors to an event such as a fall fair or trunk-or-treat.