What do you do for Halloween?

Phoenix Farm harvest celebration - image 1

Image by hammersmithandfulham via Flickr

Wendy was standing in the sanctuary after Sunday service when she asked, “What do you all do for Halloween?”
Now that brought a flood of memories. When we first came to town, there were not as many churches as we have now. That meant that what we did for Halloween gained the attention of the whole Christian community and they came.
We did a full-blown “Light Night” on Oct 31st. Later we called it “Light up the Night”. We would decorate the exterior of the church like a cemetery with all of the effects. We placed skeletons, pumpkin heads, spiders, spider webs; mounds representing graves, with tombstones with RIP written on them, exposed bones and a full size coffin. It was creepy enough to draw the people in and have them see what we were doing.
On the front door to the church we put a sign that said, 
“Come out of darkness and into the light.” For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (Ephesians 5:8).
The moment you walked in the church everything was lit up. We had games, prizes, food, places to sit and have a good time those in attendance. All of our games had scripture verses or a scriptural theme. The environment we wanted was everything. 
Here is a sample of some of the games we had for the children. We had a game called “Set the Captive Free”. Here people were arrested for various crimes and placed in a jail house. People would go and help them get out of prison with various scripture cards that spoke of salvation. They presented a card and wa la, they were free, representing salvation.
The Pearl of Great Price was great game to watch. We had a kiddy pool filled with sand, there were several white marbles included with various other marbles. The young children would dig in the sand for the pearl of great price. They would give up something to have that marble.
In our kitchen we served hotdogs and Nacho’s with jalapenos, soft drinks, coffee that would complement the cake walk. We called our kitchen, “The Manna Cafe”.
We had a place that drew the teens in. We provided water guns and there were candles at various levels, this one was called “Quench the Fiery Darts of the Evil One”. They actually shot the flames with water. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy. 
At the time we offered this event; we were the only venue providing this kind of Halloween alternative and it worked well for us for several years. Could you imagine the fun you could have if the churches did have a cemetery in the front yard?
Our idea was not an original; it came from Shiloh Worship Center in Sierra Vista. That was the place I grew as a Christian and was eventually ordained by them (just a side note). We use our event to educate the people on the significance and dangers of Halloween all while having fun and reaching out to the community.

It was some of the mega churches that popularized the Harvest Fest. Churches all over the country are now doing a harvest fest.   

Over the years as more and more churches and clubs did a Harvest Fest and had to choose which place to go to. People tried to attend several per night, but the way these are designed they are meant to keep people through the night. We lost a lot several people to the alternative events and we were still putting out the effort and finances for a large event.
We have been invited to participate in the Harvest Fests of other churches. We have supported them over the years. Many have asked me, “Why doesn’t the church do one big event?” There are several reasons for this.
1. Each church has its own personality to the events that they offer and they have goals and outcomes to the events.
2. Each church is reaching out to the community and would like to see more people attend their church.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               3. The event coordinator knows that if people will come to the church property, then that is where the folks will think of going to church. It is important to get people on the grounds.
I tell people that we need to do our own thing as well; maybe not as large as some are doing it now,  but we need to do our own. “Why? Why shouldn’t we go and support something that another church is doing?”; is usually the response.

I told Wendy who was still talking to me in the sanctuary, “As an illustration of why we do our own thing is each family has its own Thanksgiving Traditions right? The idea of supporting what another church does, would be like telling our family, “Let’s join our neighbor for our Thanksgiving meal, this year, why should we do our own. Each family does their own. It is the same with what churches do with their holiday plans. We do our own events for our members and those that we serve.  
At our trunk or treat we have the cars all lined up giving items to the children. Then we roast hotdogs and do s’mores. Then we share thoughts about skeletons, angels and demons, ghosts, and why the Holy Spirit is called the Holy Ghost. Talk about the season of the harvest as well and how important it is to save the souls in our community. Sometimes we have done skits and costumes. Other times not.

We finally decided that it was not cost-effective to continue our full size “Light up the Night”. Over the past few years we scaled it back and now do a trunk or treat. In order for us to go full-scale and see the number of people come to the church we would have to establish the event by investing into it until we see the people come to a full-sized event. We could do that again, that would be doable.
Here it is, that time of the year again; when we look at what is coming up for our fall activities. If you need ideas about your harvest fest we have several games we can recommend to you. Feel free to take any of these ideas. There are several other games that we supported. Ask and we will share these with you. It is a blessing to share what has worked in the past. However I know that the Halloween events in general are a concern for parents. That is a reason people are attending these Harvest Fests and are staying with the familiar and safe institutions.
How about you; what are you doing Halloween this year?  October 31st is coming up quickly.

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One Response to “What do you do for Halloween?”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    What great ideas! Thanks for sharing.