This coming Halloween offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of one’s view of this day, there is a fact that cannot be denied: Halloween is the one day in which our neighbors are outside walking around in hordes and coming right up to our front door! Rarely do we have such an open window of opportunity to engage in this way. What should we do with that? Do we disappoint by turning the lights off and going to bed early? Or, does it seem best to turn on the lights and seize the opportunity? The latter is consistent with what Jesus said:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

This year, when your neighbors show up for good treats to eat, let’s not disappoint. Instead, let’s be exceptional, and let’s be more intentionally engaged.

Here are a few simple ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries. Pick as many ideas as you would like. May God be glorified as we let our lights shine for HIS glory!

1. Pray, a lot! This Halloween, before you do anything else, pray and ask the Spirit specifically for:

- Open eyes to see the real needs around you;

-Open ears to help you listen, care, and serve those around you; and

-Open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations.

2. Decide what you will do. Determine if you will do something special as a family or with other friends. Perhaps you live in a great neighborhood full of kids, and you have the perfect yard for doing something special. Then you can simply invite a few friends to help and bring their kids to join in the fun. Or if you live in an area where you don’t get many trick-or-treaters, then ask your friends if you can join their plans.

Together, decide ahead of time what you will do to reach out to others. Keep your plans simple, enjoyable, and suitable for your situation. The intended purpose is to create experiences that are welcoming and relational.

3. Be Welcoming. Make your entry way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible. Consider having a fire pit in your front driveway and offer coffee, hot cider, hot cocoa and s’mores to the parents and trick or treaters that come to your door. Or have a decorated table with pumpkin bread or cookies for the parents and kiddos around the block. You could even put out dog treats and a water bowl for the four-legged trick-or-treaters! All these ideas show that we are more than about handing out candy to kids, but we are here to bless the entire family and, in a sense, welcome you into our lives.

4. Be Present. Don’t hide out all night or just put the candy out for kids to “self-serve.” Come out to the door or hang out on the porch or driveway. And if they stop to have some cider or a cookie, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.

5. Be Encouraging. When neighbors stop by, receive them as guests with an enthusiastic and warm welcome. Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. If they arrive dressed up in red onesies complete with horns and pitchforks, welcome them just the same way. Practice building others up with words.

6. Give out the Best Candy. Please, don’t give out toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the motherload of candy. Instead, be “that” house…the one that gives away the best candy. Spring for the full-sized candy bars if you can. Having a nut-free option is a nice gesture for those with allergies. Remember, we have been blessed to be a blessing.

7. Learn their Stories ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. Then, follow through and serve them later! This might actually lead to them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.

8. Join the Community. If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you. Perhaps your area has a trick-or-treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc. Maybe you simply have neighbors who are unchurched who invite you to go trick-or-treating with them and their kids. Go and look for ways to build bridges and connections with others (then get to know their stories along the way).

Halloween is a funny holiday when we think about it. But it’s a holiday that is so easy to build relationships, to bless the community, and start (or continue) to show off what our heavenly Father is like.

Although there are certainly things you could do during Halloween to begin having gospel conversations, remember that the real goal of these ideas are more of “pre-evangelism.” This is where you begin building intentional relationships with your neighbors, hear their stories, look for felt needs that you could meet later, and look for ways to continue connections that could eventually lead to those gospel conversations.

Regardless of what you think of the holiday and its roots, our culture celebrates Halloween and we have been sent by Jesus to reach them. We all have in front of us a wide-open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. October 31 is a perfect opportunity to connect with our neighbors and our community, and let our lights shine before others.

Pastor Tom Boxall

Sources: Ideas compiled and edited with permission from and The Church at Brook Hills.