At WLC, we seek to be a community that loves where we live, following after Jesus' call to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). Recently, one of our staff saw an article from Christian blogger and speaker, Caesar Kalinowski. Below are his 7 suggestions for making a lasting impression in your neighborhood this Halloween. For even more information on how Christians can approach Halloween and connect with our neighbors, click on the link below to enter your email and receive a special packet from Caesar Kalinowski.
Halloween Brings the Mission to Your Doorstep
7 Things That Can Make a Lasting Impression
Depending on your faith community or brand of spirituality, Halloween and trick-or-treating may be controversial for some of you. But no one can argue that when a national tradition literally lines kids and parents up at your doorstep, that has to be a good time to roll out the red carpet for mission.
Regardless if you really love this tradition and go all out, or if you're less into the whole dress-up and party thing, or whether you call it Halloween, Trick-or-Treat, Harvest Party or whatever, here are 7 things you can do to leave a lasting impression on people and really prime the pump for future missional opportunities:
1. Be home! Don't be "that house" (again) this year.
How often do people line up at your house to meet you? Prioritize this occasion and plan to be home. Don't make excuses or worry if your kids are already grown, go for it! This is once a year, make the most of this opportunity.
2. Turn on the lights – it says, "We're home, we're here and we're open for business!"
Even though Halloween has a tradition of being "scary" and all, make your house seem super inviting. Turn on lots of lights, prop open your door, or better yet, sit out front and greet people. Don't make them ring the doorbell and wait....and wait...wondering if anyone is home.
3. Ask everyone their name and tell them yours too.
Seriously. This is basic stuff. When someone you don't know comes to your home you ask them their name, where they live, and you introduce yourself. (We all learned this in kindergarten.) Don't crack the door and toss a piece of candy out toward their bag. Discipleship and mission moves at the speed of relationship. This may be the start of a new friendship with that family dressed like the Munsters!
4. Give good stuff – be the house and folks everyone looks forward to.
I still remember which houses gave out full-size Snicker bars when I was a kid, and which ones to avoid because they gave you those weird, hard orange circus peanuts that doubled as door stops. Yuck! Be generous. Be like Jesus who brought on the best wine the steward had ever tasted at the wedding feast.
5. Offer a warm drink and a chance to sit down for a few minutes.
Depending on where you live, it is often colder around the end of October. Set up a table out front with a few chairs and offer hot chocolate or cider. Ask people if they want to "take a load off" for a few minutes while the kids finish up this block. This will let people know that you are open to relationship and not in a hurry to move them along. Maybe a little party will break out, or...
6. Throw an "after-party" for the parents only.
One of the coolest things we ever did was make little flyers and hand them out inviting people to come around after trick-or-treating was over for an "adult beverage" and some real appetizers. The flyer said, "Why should kids have all the fun?!" We handed out flyers earlier that week and also to folks that came to our door for trick-or-treat. We had a blast and took things further towards lasting relationships with several people.
7. Organize a neighborhood "Halloween Parade".
Okay, this may be for the more bold among you, but a great idea! A few years ago a good friend of mine, Chuck, started a cool annual tradition. He went around handing out flyers announcing a “Treats in the Street Halloween Parade” he was organizing for the kids and parents who lived around his home. Everyone met at his place at 5:15 after work. They marched around the neighborhood, up one block and down the other, (folks cheering their heads off) and then back to Chuck’s house where he had a big fire pit blazing in the backyard and gallons of chili. So fun! This led to many other opportunities throughout the year to have folks in their home and build discipleship relationships.
Bonus tip: Involve your kids in all of this with you.
Duh. They don't have to be out trick-or-treating the entire time. Our own kids always had a blast handing out the treats and they already knew many of the families that came calling. Use this time and experience each year to train them in hospitality and intentionality. Let them know why you are doing all of these things and what your hopes are for your neighbors.
This can be a big deal
I'm sure that no one of these tips are game-changers, but if you are endeavoring to life a lifestyle of discipleship and mission, then taking advantage of this holiday tradition is low-hanging fruit. Have fun with it and trust that even small steps relationally are a big deal. With a little extra intentionality and faith, Halloween can be a turning point for you and your neighbors.