Well, this is weird.  It is Sunday morning and I am not at church!  What is that all about, Pastor Greenbean?  Well, the hot water heater is not making hot water.  It did this yesterday, and the guy came and fixed it, but it looks like he didn’t.  So us Greenbeans smell bad this morning and it sounds very spiritual, or at least Levitical, to not go to church when you are unclean.  So, that gives me time to write tomorrow’s blog today.  Lucky you.

Because I am not actively involved in church ministry right now, I am able to look at other churches with a little bit of a learning eye and what I see is that there are two types of approaches churches make toward Halloween.  Let’s call them Type A and Type B.

The Type A church sees Halloween as a cultural phenomena that blends with the seasonal changes.  These churches often have pumpkin patch trips with children and families and will usually have something like a fall carnival, often called Fall Festival.  These churches may or may not have their activities planned actually on Halloween.

The Type B church hates Halloween and views it as a frightening spiritual counter-attack to the gospel.  These churches either avoid Halloween altogether, or, if they do engage in Halloween activities, it is always billed as an ‘alternative’ to Halloween.  These are the churches that go to “Hell Houses,” which are weird evangelistic haunted houses that try to frighten people into loving Jesus, because fear always works.

Guess which one I am?  Am I a Type A or Type B?

Here is the answer–I am a little bit of both.  My inner Mr. Rogers really thinks churches do better with pumpkin patches and cake walks than botched abortions and drunk driving tableaus.  However, I am also a little frightened by Halloween.  Something about it does not sit well with me and I’ve never really understood why.  Halloween usually finds me on edge and waiting for sunrise on November 1 when I can celebrate All Saints Day.  Some of my more reformed friends always encourage me that it is not Halloween but instead Reformation Day and I should see it that way.  The problem is that no one dresses up as Martin Luther on October 31.  They dress up as the devil.

What I’ve come to embrace over the years, mainly with recovery help from my wonderful family, is that I fear Halloween for irrational reasons, but fear is not the substance of faith.  Would Jesus be afraid of Halloween?  I think not.  Instead, he would transform it by his celebratory presence.  So that is why in practice I am really more of a fall festival-kind-of-guy than a hand-out-gospel-tracts-instead-candy kind of guy.  But if you do hand out gospel tracts, for the love of all that is good and decent at least give it along with full size candy bars.


Hot Cocoa Makes Halloween Sweeter

Halloween and Easter

Autumn–A Wonderful Time of Year

Happy Halloween:  Arrgghhhh




  1. I was actually relieved a few days ago, when I realized that I have a concert on Thursday evening and therefore will not be handing out candy. I just didn’t feel like buying a ton of candy. Half the kids who trick-or-treat in my neighborhood, though, are little ones dressed as fairies or butterflies or various other very innocent things. Even the older kids go more for superheroes or football players. When I was a kid I dressed up as a monk one year, and another year I used the same cassock and added a scythe and went as Death. I was an economical lad.

    Maybe this Halloween, since I won’t be there, I should put a sign on my front door that says, “This home has no candy for idolaters.” That is, if I want to come home to a vandalized property. Maybe I should just leave it to their parents to teach them the value of repentance from their candy-driven ways.

  2. I am a type A. A ministry of reconciliation can’t be blended easily with a ministry of condemnation. On the other hand this year I think we will leave the lights out and go hide somewhere. I don’t know. There is a family of type B right across the street who moved in last November and I am interested to see what they do.
    Virgil’s dressing up like a monk is great. It is inspiring enough to perhaps make me more creative about we do this year….

  3. Oh, yes, I forgot. Halloween completely justifies its existence as an excuse to watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and now we have the dvd we don’t have to check the tv listings. If Charles Schultz hadn’t existed, it would have been necessary to invent him.

    • you are sooooo right about the great pumpkin. linus’ hermeneutics of what the great pumpkin is looking for is one of the greatest pieces of fiction about the life of faith.
      i think virgil should dust off the old cassock and try to score some more candy this year.

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