A Halloween Outreach for Your Church That Actually Works

A Halloween Outreach for Your Church That Actually Works October 25, 2023

Woman in Black Tank Top Holding Plate with Candies
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In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul gives one of the clearest examples of how he evangelized Jew and Gentile alike. He writes:

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

Through these two sentences, we get a glimpse of Paul’s willingness to set aside his own comforts and even his own preferences and cultural traditions to reach people with the gospel. This article is not meant to tackle the very BIG debate around whether or not to lean into Halloween as a Christian. That’s a post for another day.

This post is to share with Christians and churches across the U.S. an outreach event that our church has found to be effective for the Halloween holiday and why I think you should do the same at your church.

The Outreach

Before I arrived at The Journey Church in 2017, they had been engaged in this Halloween outreach playfully called “Hullabaloo.” Once I heard about it, I was immediately a fan. After a few years off because of COVID and some other challenges, we are re-launching the outreach in 2023.

For years, churches have started jumping on the “Trunk or Treat” method of outreach. This is good, but it expects that the people you’re trying to reach will take the time to actually come to your church. Hullabaloo approaches the idea differently – let’s grab people where they are, they’re neighborhood.

We set up what we call “Hot Spots” in neighborhoods where our congregants live so they can reach their actual neighbors. The church equips them with full-size candy bars, hotdogs & hot chocolate, church-branded bags and coupons from area businesses. We also throw a postcard about our church in the bag and hand all of this out from garages in each neighborhood in our community.

The Benefits

You Get to Love Your Neighbor in Your Neighborhood

Let’s be honest, the church has been guilty of being too insider-focused and expecting people to come to us. This outreach meets people where they are and opens the door to meet people we wouldn’t otherwise meet. We are really good about caring about people across the world, but not so good at caring about people across the street. The goal of this event is for the homeowner to connect with neighbors and get to know them.

Expecting our neighbors to walk into our churches without first connecting with them, serving them and loving them in our neighborhoods is becoming more and more unlikely. This is a great door opener and ice breaker for the initial conversation to take place. This does require that we actually talk to people…so that may be a hurdle for some to get over.

You Get to Be Generous Toward Your Neighbors

Christians and Christianity have a perception problem and one of the misperceptions that exists is that we are selfish. The Bible points us to extreme, radical generosity and this event allows us to step fully into that space. By giving away food and drinks as well as full-sized candy bars, we are being generous to our neighbors beyond what most people do on Halloween. One teenager that visited a Hullabaloo Hot Spot that my family and I hosted said, “I know you all believe in God because you’re giving away full-sized candy bars!” Now, I don’t know if it’s a real connection, but for this teen, it blessed him to receive something different than everyone else was offering.

Generosity often requires a heart change for many of us. Jesus is in the business of changing hearts and when he changes a person from being stingy to being generous, that’s a God-sized result! When we show people that we’ve been truly changed by God, it will go a long way toward them being drawn to Jesus.

You Get to Personally Invite Your Neighbors to Church

Facebook posts, social media shares, and general invitations to church tend to get general results…meaning few people come to your church because of these things. They’re important, but they’re general. When you literally have your neighbor standing in your driveway, you can brag about how good your church is and then make the invitation, inviting them to sit with you on a Sunday. Having other volunteers serving at your Hullabaloo Hot Spot also creates the opportunity to introduce your neighbors to other attendees and potentially a pastor or staff member.

You Get to Humanize Your Neighbors

It is so easy, in today’s 24-hour news cycle especially, to de-humanize our neighbors. In fact, that’s exactly what the Pharisee did when he ask Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Making excuses in order to not love another person comes to us naturally. And the biggest reason for this is that we don’t really know our neighbors.  We put them in a category or we prejudge them in some way based on outward appearances, race, religion, ability, etc.

My neighborhood is quite diverse. There are people from all walks of life and many different backgrounds and it could be easy for me to put someone in a group that exempts me from loving and serving them. But through this event, I get to know my neighbors on a personal level. I learn about their families, their work, their background and, sometimes, their hangups and hurts. In other words, I “learn” that they’re human just like me. And when they’re humanized, I can love them and feel more comfortable and confident inviting them to attend my church.

The Conclusion

Try it! Do it! Go for it!

Ok, that’s easy for me to say. But I really do think that this outreach event is powerful and effective. Not only does it humanize our neighbors, but it humanizes us. It opens the door for so many potentially positive opportunities. Handing out hot dogs, hot chocolate, full-size candy, and postcards about your church is not the same as “celebrating” Halloween. And perhaps God may be inviting you to be like Paul and become all things to all people so that you might win some. Hullabaloo is a great way to do that!

How about you? How do you (and your church) view Halloween? Are you open to trying this idea? Why or why not?

About Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons and his wife Consuela are the Lead Pastors of The Journey Church, a multi-ethnic, multigenerational, socioeconomically diverse church on the westside of Indianapolis. He will complete his D.Min from Southeastern University in April 2024. You can read more about the author here.

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