Why All Good Christians Should Celebrate Halloween

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in 2009. Since we are once again approaching Halloween, George Robison’s (Hedrick Chair of World Missions and Professor of Missions and Evangelism) thoughts on Christian participation (or not) in the holiday remain pertinent and helpful. 

October 31st. For most Americans this date means one thing: **Halloween.** Costumes, candy and trick-or-treaters spending to the tune of $2.5 billion making this holiday second only to Christmas in marketing revenue. But good Christians don’t celebrate Halloween. Or do they? Some Protestants may prefer to call it Reformation Day, for after all, that is the date that Martin Luther nailed his Theses to the door at Castle Church in Wittenberg back in 1517. That does pre-date the first usage of the phrase “All Hallows Eve” (commonly known now as Halloween) which didn’t emerge until some 40 years later in 1556.[1]

Ironically, most good Christians that I know won’t be celebrating either Reformation Day or Halloween. Instead, they will be showing support for their local church by attending a “safe and sanitary” alternative called a Fall Festival. This alternative allows good Christians to invite their neighbors and friends to come to the church and get candy, play games and have some good, clean Christian fun. No pagan witches and goblins allowed. But they can dress up as David or Moses or some other biblical character. All the fun without the pagan revelry, right?

I would like to propose another alternative – that good Christians should indeed celebrate Halloween. I think that they should stay home from their church’s alternative Fall Festival and celebrate with their pagan neighbors. Most of them wouldn’t have come to your Fall Festival anyway. And those who did would’ve stopped by briefly on their way to “real” trick-or-treating. I’m sure that some of you reading this blog might be more than a little unhappy with my proposal at this point, but stick with me for a moment.: The reason I propose that good Christians celebrate Halloween and stay home from the “Christian alternatives” is that Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.

Living with missional intentionality means that you approach life as a missionary in your context. I lived with my family in South Asia and we had to be creative and intentional in engaging our Muslim neighbors. We now live in the USA and we still need to be creative and intentional. That’s why for the past 2 years we have chosen to stay at home and celebrate the fact that Halloween gives us a unique opportunity to engage our neighbors. In fact, last year we had over 300 children and 200 adults come to our doorstep on that one night. And we were ready for them!

We had a tent set up in the driveway and gave away free coffee and water to the adults who were walking with their children. Our small group members manned the tent and engaged them in conversation and gave each one of them a gospel booklet (“The Story” gospel booklets are available with a Halloween distribution rate here: http://story4.us/offer). The children ran up to our door while the parents were waiting and got their candy, along with gospel booklets (even if they were dressed as witches or goblins!). In all we gave away more than 500 pieces of literature that night, each with our name, e-mail address, and a website where they could get more info.

I sure wish more good Christians would celebrate Halloween this year by staying home and meeting their pagan neighbors – an option which I believe surely beats the “good Christian” alternative.


[1] John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary 2d. ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1989).

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  1. Thomas   •  

    We are planning on sitting on the front door of the church and handing out candy, literature and welcoming those who come by to come to church. The church is in a tight neighborhood and many will see us and we will invite them to come over and get some candy and talk.

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  3. church lawn mower   •  

    Well said. Folks get out of your Holy Huddle. Meet the people in your neigborhood. Give the kids candy, Talk to the adults. Give out tracts.

    MY favorite tracts are from Ray Comfort and his ministry.

    And spend the day remembering the saints from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It is all saints day.

  4. Rev. Christopher E. Burcham   •  

    Right on; I totally agree! May your tribe increase!

  5. Gene Scarborough   •  

    I like the take on simply being friendly. Why not pass up the gospel tract and simply give friendship and care enough that they reveal their problems to you???

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  7. Lorne James   •  

    Although I still find myself questioning the use of the term “celebrate,” I agree that we should be actively engaging and participating in the events that occur in most neighborhoods in Halloween. This is a very encouraging post, and I look forward to seeing many believers out in their neighborhoods come Halloween.

  8. Jill   •  

    I don’t really agree with the part about handing out booklets, but the rest I love! It’s what we have decided to do, too.

  9. Lewis Howard   •  

    Great piece brother. We will be home as well.

  10. Carol Brown   •  

    What a great idea. Well plan to include tracks that evening.

  11. Jennifer   •  

    Pagan friends? That’s where you lost me, a Christian, & where you’ll lose unsaved people. I realize this blog was written for Christians however, you’ve now turned unsaved people away from this blog site so if any of your future posts are meant to reach out to the unsaved community, you’ve already lost them. Your idea is an excellent one and it’s exciting to see people being active in their faith. Consider changing your terminology.

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