By Jon Roberts … This Sunday, most Americans will be taking several hours as a family to celebrate Halloween.  Many Christians will also take time to celebrate a “watered down” version of this event, like trick or treating, with no decorations in the yard.  Make no mistake Halloween, no matter how some might want to downplay it as fun, is the Devil’s holiday. From ghosts to goblins to trick or treating, this holiday makes the devil and dentists happy and joyful!

While it is important to be aware of cultural surroundings, the church also has a responsibility and a duty to protect children and youth from gatherings that may seem good-spirited fun on the surface, but deep down has alternative facts and messaging contrary to Jesus.

Before moving to Colorado, I spent the last 25 years in the South, sometimes referred to as the Bible Belt.  What shocked and saddened me was the number of churches, including some Adventist churches, that would hold Hell houses, a Christian version of a haunted house, or trunk or treat events.  Equally disappointing was the number of parents who would encourage their children to go trick or treating.  While their motives weren’t evil, what was being taught was that it is okay to tiptoe to the doorstep of darkness.

I recall one evening not too long ago when my friend Gary gave me a call to discuss Halloween.  He was torn because the church, where he was a leader, had a tradition of holding a trunk or treat event.  He stated he was against continuing the tradition, but many members kept pushing the idea.  I reminded Gary that Jesus calls us to protect our most vulnerable against the forces of evil.  Even though it was unpopular, Gary stood up for good and the church listened and canceled the long-standing tradition. He received several notes from members thanking him for standing up, for they’d had the same feelings for many years, but were afraid to speak up.

This raises the question of what to do on Halloween.  Do we sit in the dark and pretend no one is home when the doorbell rings?  Do we alienate our children who grow up to resent their childhood because they couldn’t have fun?  Absolutely not!

The answer is simple—we turn the day around into a special time that children will remember long past their childhood years.  We take advantage of the time to deepen family bonds and grow relationships.

Here are some simple ideas:

  1. Go to a pumpkin patch as a family in the afternoon and choose pumpkins to take home and make pumpkin pie, bread, or cookies together.
  2. If Halloween falls on a school day, keep the children home and plan a trip to an amusement park or a bounce house.
  3. Go to an apple orchard and pick your own apples to make homemade apple cider.
  4. Bake homemade cookies and deliver them to shut-ins or the elderly of the church.
  5. Go to a non-Halloween corn maze. They do exist.

This is just a sampling of alternative ideas to Halloween and trick or treating.  The most crucial part is making it a family day.  Take time off of work and build memories together.

Gary didn’t take the easy way out. He stood up to protect our children.  Parents, it won’t be easy to take a stand and not associate with Halloween, but your children will be better off.   Elders of the church, including members who have no children or who have grown children, stand up and give support to the parents making this difficult decision.

Our children are the now and the future of the church and they are counting on strong and courageous individuals making the tough and unpopular choices.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo by pexels