Over the next few days, I will be sharing some articles from guest contributors, as I will be away in Venezuela to conduct pastors training for a couple of days.
Today’s article is from a close friend of mine, Rob Burns of Crestwood Presbyterian Church in Richmond Virginia.
“This is the best thing that’s happened in this neighborhood in years!”
That’s certainly enough affirmation to propel us to repeat our Trunk or Treat event another year.
Trunk or Treat is an alternative event we make available to our community on Halloween night. Church members come to the church in costume, also decorating the trunks of their cars, and children come to the safe well-lit environment of the church parking lot and proceed from car to car collecting candy.
We also threw in free hot dogs, a couple bounce houses and a petting zoo to add to the energy.
After several years of offering this event at our suburban campus, last year we moved it to our urban campus where we felt there was greater community need.
We were overwhelmed with the turnout, hosting 200 neighbors in a matter of hours. Our own congregation was energized by the community response, and of course, the neighborhood was tremendously grateful.
Our urban campus is situated in a changing neighborhood which now reflects an ethnic population unlikely to attend our worship services. Knowing that, we still proceeded with the event in an effort to bear witness to Christ’s love for and commitment to those who live nearby.
As far as we know, we did not receive any worship visitors as a result of Trunk or Treat. However, we are engaged with our community for the long haul and believe that events like this grease the wheels for evangelistic outreach, even if it does not result in our own congregation’s growth.
We did not include any obviously spiritual component, other than providing an information handout on our church.
However, this year we expect to offer simple prayer ministry in some form. We also may make our sanctuary available to attenders, though we realize that parents will want to focus the bulk of their attention on their children.
We’re still exploring how best to leverage for the gospel the community participation we receive.
Some persons are troubled by events like this, feeling that Christians would do better to steer clear of Halloween completely. While there is worthy discussion to be had on appropriately engaging the culture, we hope our event in some way helps remove barriers to the gospel for our neighbors.
Rob Burns is the Associate pastor of Crestwood Presbyterian Church. He and his family have been close friends of my family since the late 80s. He has done solo pastorates in Pennsylvania and in Missouri before his current call in Richmond.