I recently had a conversatoin with a Pastor who was very opposed to having Halloween activities at church. (This same pastor speaks against the traditional secular Christmas and Easter celebrations at church.) I am very opinionated and so I try to avoid confrontations. It is better to avoid the problem in most cases. However, I have a severe problem when a pastor allows their own dogmatic convictions to overrule their opportunity to reachout.
Churches can capitalize on events such as Halloween, Easter, and Christmas. I understand that the traditional secular events were taken from nonchristian holidays. I also understand that these events have little to no connection with the Christian part of the holiday. But if my child wants to hunt easter eggs, go trick-or-treating, or share Christmas gifts, I am going to visit a church that will let them do that.
If you want to reach out to the nonchurch, support activities that they are going to be involved in. If you tell the nonchurch, “We do not have candy for Halloween because it is of the devil”, then you are essentially saying, “We do not want you at our church.” That may not be what you are saying, but that is how the take it. That’s how I would take it, and I have been a pastor for years.
I am not saying change your belief system and acept things you do not agree with. I am telling you to capitalise on an opportunity to reach out. Instead of Halloween have a trunk or treat, a fall fest, harvest celebrations, or another activity that will give families the opportunity to be involved in your church. But when you refused you have told them that you are not interested in them being at your church.
I had a situation a few years ago when a pastor where I served wanted to force the city to move trick-or-treating from halloween night which fell on a Sunday, to the saturday before. It was not a big deal. It was only one night different. The problem, it told everyone in that town that the church was not willing to support things that people are interested in. It would be just like a church trying to force the High School to cancel a football game because the church had something going on. What bothered me more, the church in question did not even have Sunday night services.
To win nonchurched we have to understand how the nonchurch think. When we understand how people think, we can reach them.