What a night! With over 4,000 people attending Bethel’s 3rd Annual “TRUNK-OR-TREAT,” the church that I pastor once again decided to be “salt and light” in our community on a night which has become associated with darkness. Who says that Christians have to retreat from the world for any night, much less the one night of the year that our culture has, by-and-large, turned into (or back into) a pagan holiday that only celebrates demons and ghouls and zombies?
For full disclosure, I fall somewhere between an Evangelical and a Conservative Evangelical when it comes to observing Halloween, at least according to Dr. Russell Moore’s identification system outlined in his recent post, “Halloween and Evangelical Identity”:
An evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for Halloween.
A conservative evangelical is a fundamentalist whose kids dress up for the church’s “Fall Festival.”
I’m not sure if Dr. Moore’s definition of “Fall Festival” is broad enough to include “TRUNK-OR-TREAT” events such as the one sponsored by Bethel and countless other churches throughout the United States this Halloween, but I guess on October 31, I am closer to just a plain, ole’ Evangelical if you base it on whether or not I allow my own kids to dress up on Halloween. I do. And, I’m okay with that.
Some might not be okay with their kids dressing up or otherwise acknowledging Halloween. Some Christians and some churches might feel that any observance of this pagan “holiday” — even in the form of “TRUNK-OR-TREAT” or “Fall Festival” events — is inappropriate. I’m okay with folks who have come to that conclusion for themselves. However, I am not okay with those Christians — who might otherwise be mistaken for Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” — who want to impose their opinions about Halloween on everyone else.
Truth be told, these folks probably would like to impose their opinions on just about any subject that comes down the pike. I’m sure that the cold water brigade will be back again on “All Saints’ Day,” railing against the saints who have decided to “accommodate” those in our culture who are lost without Christ. After Bethel’s first “TRUNK-OR-TREAT” on October 31, 2010, there were those who were eager to impose their views of Halloween on us, even though they did not live in our community or otherwise know anything about our church. What I wrote then (here) is still appropriate today:
Far too many Christians, especially of the fundamentalist variety, are worried about the church accommodating to culture. Should the church and followers of Christ ”adjust, compromise, modify, or otherwise adapt” (one definition of accommodation) our theology, beliefs, message or actions to please culture in order to win the lost to Christ? Absolutely not!
Should churches and Christians be helpful and neighborly (another definition of accommodating) toward those who are our actual neighbors, even if those folks don’t act like prim and proper Christians on Halloween? Should the church seek to reach our friends and neighbors with the Gospel of Christ every day of the year, including on Halloween, or do we simply retreat behind closed doors and wait until those “pagans” get off “our” streets and out of “our” neighborhoods?
I suppose the answer to those questions ultimately comes down to which definition of “accommodation” you subscribe to. Some fundamentalists will always be more comfortable railing against any “accommodation” by Christians to culture. They probably will never be comfortable sitting at a notorious sinner’s table and eating a meal with him. I’m just glad Jesus didn’t have that problem. Go figure.
Were there people who came to our church on Halloween who were dressed “inappropriately?” Yes. If I could have called the “Fashion Police,” they would have had non-stop work just in our parking lot alone. However, many of those same folks would have never stepped foot on our church property (outside of a wedding or funeral), but they came by the thousands. They came with their kids on the “darkest” night of the year. They came for the free treats inside the trunks. When they left, perhaps their candy wasn’t as sweet and their night wasn’t as dark. That’s what salt and light will do, even on Halloween!