It’s time for the annual question: “is it okay for Christians to trick or treat?” This year it’s especially tricky, in that the observance falls on a Sunday and this poses choices for parents who are wanting to support their kids but might feel the pressure of doing something unlawful in regard to the Christian Sabbath.
Well, I have a solution: go trick or treating with your pastor.
That’s right. Even though I am 45 and have been a pastor for about 15 years of my adult life, I never thought of myself as being an excuse for observing Halloween. That was until last Wednesday night, when one of our young moms told me she enjoyed telling her friends that she and her family “go trick or treating with their pastor.” It took me a moment to figure out she was talking about me.
You have to understand first off that my wife and I have three children under the age of 12, and that this deal of Halloween has less to do with religion than with how many Kit Kats will make their way home after my cute kids return empty their stuff onto the floor. And, Lori and I have made this a church event of sorts by inviting all of our Sunday School class members and their children to come over to eat and then go out as a group to canvas the neighborhood for goodies. This has become a tradition of sorts in just three years, and I can’t help thinking that there are other Baptist preachers out there who wish they could do the same thing.
It does help that our church does not meet on Sunday evenings, and a blessing on those forefathers and foremothers who came before me to make that wise decision. Sunday is more of a day of rest for me now, even when there are those occasional meetings on Sunday afternoon. But, at least on big events like Halloween it doesn’t become a test of fellowship and my kids aren’t waiting to see what time I get home from church to show off their costumes. I do recall those churches I’ve previously served that met on Sunday evenings, and it was a real dilemma about what to do with the children.
Now, I know that there are churches who are doing “trunk or treat” in their parking lots or allowing their Sunday School classes to decorate for the kids to treak or treat “inside the building.” I think that can be okay, especially if you want to wake up on Monday morning and tell the world you were in church on Sunday night. However, I believe trick or treating is an outdoor event akin to a sport and should not be called off unless there is heavy rain or inclimate weather.
I know many of my Baptist brethern will take issue that I am compromising with the world and this demonic observance, but the truth is these little kids don’t care ab0ut the Satanic undertones unless you are inclined to make halloween out that way (let’s talk about Easter and Christmas too). The kids like to dress up, ring doorbells, and “trick or treat” and from my experience most of the outside lights are on and folks like to see how the kids are dressed up. It’s also a good way to bump into neighbors who might otherwise be holed up in their houses, and I have been known to have had numerous occasions to talk about our church. Plus, and speaking only for my own children, these three guys faithfully attend church every time their preacher dad does with very few complaints. So, I am delighted to spend time with them in this way and be an excuse for others to spend their time that way too.
So, if you are struggling with whether or not to attend church on Sunday evening or trick or treat with your children on an event that only comes once a year even though church is 52 times annually, see if you can take church with you by getting your preacher out in the neighborhood for a good time. If anyone asks you about it, you can blame the pastor for it and call the whole event “a fellowship”.