In my first church, we chose October 31 as a safe alternative to Halloween. We planned all sorts of children’s games, candy giveaway, costume contest, and all around fun. We mobilized lots of volunteers to run the games and our small church had a tremendous party every year.
Our Harvest Party (we called it) celebrated some of the fun traditions of Halloween, without the scary costumes and without the occult overtones associated with the date.
More and more churches will choose a Halloween Outreach to open up their doors and provide their community a safe alternative to knocking on doors. You might have done the same. You hope that residents in your community will bring their children to enjoy an awesome night of fun.
If you host only church families and have not made your community aware of this, then you need to change your plans and find last minute ways to get the word out about your Halloween alternative or Harvest Party.
If you are not thinking about reaching your community and using this event in your church, then you need to open up your hearts to your community. Your church is too inward focused.
Are you preparing for guests at Halloween?
Are members of your planning team thinking of church hospitality issues to welcome your visitors during your Halloween Outreach?
Are your facilities ready?
- Does your exterior lighting work?
- Do your church signage help people navigate your church building?
- Do your church bathrooms make your mother proud?
- Take a quick hospitality audit.
Are your volunteers ready?
- Have you recast a vision to connect with the stranger who will come?
- Have you reminded people to be friendly with people they don’t know?
- Are your volunteers ready to make small talk with all the visitors?
What will your guest experience that night at your Halloween Outreach?
Will your church members take the initiative to make meaningful small talk and make a connection?
Or will your church members simply let them be? That’s a nice way of saying “Ignore them.”
Have fun and offer ministry
Consider setting up a prayer station as one of the booths. Offer prayer ministry with people and families that might seek it out.
Equip your prayer booth with literature about the church and promotional items about the next sermon series.
Have appropriately trained prayer ministers there to offer prayer with those who seek it out.
You might have the chance to talk with people in a safe 1-1 context about their faith journey, so be sure your ministry leaders are equipped to talk with people about what it means to follow Jesus.
Maybe in some localities, it might be possible to finish the night with a bonfire. You can sing a few songs and share a short non-pushy devotional about being a follower of Jesus. Check with your local area about rules for bonfires.
What happens next?
One thing that our church failed to do when I was there was to use this Harvest Party to invite people to a meaningful sermon series the following Sunday. We invited people to church, but I don’t recall anyone coming back.
As I have reflected on that problem, I have come to realize that people have important stuff to do on Sunday. Their stuff is more important than attending our church (after all, they don’t go to church).
If we can present a sermon series that starts the following Sunday that would be important to them, then there is a greater likelihood that they will rearrange their schedule and come.
Over and over, I have seen in my own life that when I invite people to a new sermon series, I have better success than a simple invitation to church. The sermon series answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Use your Halloween Community outreach to promote your new Sunday Sermon series and maybe even some of your Thanksgiving and Christmas programming.
The point is, plan ahead and create a “Come Back” event that your visitor might consider rearranging their Sunday schedule to attend.
Prepare for your Halloween Outreach
Your hospitality needs to shine during your Halloween Outreach. A good welcome experience will increase the likelihood of attending your next sermon series. Your guests should experience a good welcome when they come on Sunday as well.
I’ve put an ebook together to help you review your hospitality systems in preparation for your Halloween Outreach and your comeback event. It’s good for all seasons of the church year. You might want to acquire your copy to prepare for your Christmas and Thanksgiving program.