Ways to Reach Your Neighbors This Halloween
Ideas to be missional on this very unique holiday
We read the call to love our neighbor, to make disciples, to be witnesses, and, as missionaries, we readily raise our hand and say “Sign me up!” But then you get home and you realize that everyone goes home at the end of a workday, closes their door, and makes their way through their evening routine — which does not include you. You want to reach your neighbors, but there is a couple yards, a street, and two front doors separating the two of you. Getting some face-to-face time with your neighbors can be a bit of a challenge.
Now imagine there was one day a year where everyone decided to open their front door, go outside, walk around, and be social. Thus — obviously — Halloween. Some Christians may disagree with the ideas behind Halloween, but regardless of your personal view, it’s an incrediblely simple day to interact with your neighbors and reach your community. It’s the day of missional T-ball. Our society sets the ball on the little stand, gives us the oversize wiffleball bat, and lets us step put to the plate to knock it out of the park. There’s a lot of wisdom in doing everything you can to reach your neighborhood on this day.
I asked a handful of our leaders about their ideas and previous attempts at using Halloween to be missional. I wanted to share with you what they said:
Dan with Beer & Bible: Our Halloween intentions are simple: be open, hospitable, and love on both the neighbors that live close, and those which do not. We set up outside in the driveway with tables, chairs, lights and food. Our neighborhood often attracts families from surrounding apartment complexes or unsafe streets. This makes some of our neighbors uncomfortable, which is why we try to welcome those visitors in the driveway rather than behind the front door.
Missional idea: Be hospitable with not just your home, but your neighborhood.
Julie with JUST Initiative: Every year I look forward to the opportunity that Halloween provides us to interact more with our neighbors and to be a blessing to our neighborhood. This holiday is unlike any other day, where even the neighbors that never leave their houses are more open to coming over to your house. We typically have a Halloween party/outreach in one of our front yards to make it more accessible to all. We announce it to the neighborhood with a banner or flyers to say all are welcome and we do a cook-out along with various fun things for the children. Every year we‘ve met new people and started new long term relationships that have lead to opportunities to share more about Jesus and enter into discipleship.
Missional idea: Offer some attractional event to connect with those neighbors that are difficult to talk to any other day of the year.
Sasha with Ashford: When I think of Halloween, I also think on the ways it has been a time to connect with our neighbors. In our community, the pool is a central place, so we did a pumpkin carving event for the kids and families in the community. It felt a little crazy because of all the logistics but it was exciting to partner with our apartment management and friends. We had pumpkins, food, chalk, and little games. I can remember us helping the youth carve silly faces. into pumpkins, youth we previously had confrontation with for fighting in our back yard a week ago. Jesus was reminding us to love and serve them. I remember some of the kids chalking RIP, and a loved ones name, and sharing about that person. It occurred to us the ways these kids had seen a lot of hard things in their young lives. I even remember the kid with the pumpkin allergy, whose mom trusted me to figure out what was happening, and us running to the apartment to try and wash off all of the pumpkin he had been smothered in. Our relationship with that family has grown over the years. There were a million facets to that party, and Jesus was in it all.
Missional idea: Partner with a nonprofit/neighborhood association/local church/apartment complex/leasing office to give lower income families a better Halloween experience.
Adriana with Intervarsity: For the past 5 years students have engaged the city on Halloween by trick or treating — not by asking for candy but for nonperishable can goods from neighborhoods in Davis Island and South Tampa. Every year we’re surprised at the mountain of food that is collected and donated. Students invite their friends and classmates, bridging two worlds of our city together as they enter into learning God’s heart for all people of our city. We end the night by gathering to debrief and finish of with a dance party!
Missional idea: Leverage the openness and generosity of people this time of the year to benefit the poor, and bring someone along with you.
Jeremy with Mobile: Our house church, Mobile, loves to invite nonfollowers to become followers of Jesus and uses parties as our main strategy to deepen relationship and demonstrate genuine love. For Halloween we’ve hosted pumpkin carvings, fall cooking lessons, live music, games and crazy icebreakers. It’s really simple — we just design something that our house church would enjoy even if no one shows up so when they do they enter into an atmosphere that feels welcoming and fun. We never mention Jesus or invite visitors to our house church during the party. We just love each other and welcome our friends. BUT every person who has explored Jesus with us has always first come to one of our parties! So even though we don’t share the gospel verbally at the event, Jesus still moves through the gospel presented by the love we have for each other. It’s amazing.
Missional idea: Throw a party and then follow-up with whoever came and see if they’d like to come to house church or read the bible with you.
Leann with Unashamed: Our core work is going on street outreach to meet Trans individuals who are engaged in survival prostitution. This Halloween weekend, I imagine things will be extra busy on Nebraska Ave at midnight. Our plan is to go out late Saturday night with bags of gifts, candy, and baked goods. As we meet each individual, we’ll have a conversation and pray. Our hope is to make connections with each person we meet, to offer them Jesus and our friendship. As we drive the length of Nebraska Ave, we pray and pray for God’s light to pierce the darkness.
Missional idea: Bring Halloween/Trick-or-Treating to a group of people who are marginalized and don’t usually experience love and generosity.
Consider these stories and examples. Each of these missionaries took time to meet with their team, pray, and consider how they can use Halloween to make disciples, love their neighbors, reach the lost, and serve the poor. This is what it means to be missional and Halloween gives us an easy in.
Do something this Halloween. It can be something really big like throwing a block party and hosting a neighborhood event. It can be something really small like sitting with your neighbors to hand out candy instead of on your own porch (which is what I’m hoping to do). Complex or simple, just do something.
If you try something new this year, comment on this post and let me know how it goes. 🎃