I suppose the idea of Fall Festival that has become so common among Protestant churches this time of year came about as an alternative for the children of Christian parents to have a chance to dress up and have some good, clean fun on Halloween without the inherent dangers or pranking perils of the night-time event. And, of course, those who planned it wanted to encourage the community to come take part in a Church event that might open the door to knowing Jesus and joining a community of faith. I’m sure that was the intention.
My experiences have led me to understand that not everyone who professes Christ as Lord has a problem with dressing ghoulishly or participating in the fright-fest along with our larger American community. I can appreciate that point of difference with brothers and sisters. I just wonder if we are doing our children and our neighbors’ children a dis-service when they find our church events decorated with ghosts, goblins, and the like. And I’m really not sure how we could share our testimony of faith in Jesus with our children or our visitors while dressed as a witch. Or from a trunk decorated with scary red eyes or severed limbs.
I totally “get” the intention of Fall Festival. What I don’t get is how churches sometimes fall into the trap of allowing Fall Festivals to look and feel so much like a regular Halloween party. Kids love costumes. So do some adults. Costumes can make a church event fun as long as they are within some defined boundaries. Games, food, and candy are always fun party fare. All of those things are perfect ways for a church community to celebrate. But if those things happen without giving Jesus center-stage, we may as well have met down at the Club House.
I have raised children during the 1990’s, the 2000’s, and now the 2010’s. It is a challenge to raise Christian children, folks! It is a challenge because we are faced with so many calls to make on where to draw our lines. We are responsible for helping our children understand what it means to identify as a Christian and how that identity looks, feels, and behaves differently from what we experience at school, around town, and on TV. That, my friends, is a tall order and it requires great clarity and courage. Christian parents must dare to do things differently . . . and to explain why we make the choices we do so that our children learn to use Christian sources of authority in their own decision-making.
Do you have some defined boundaries within your family about the ways you allow your children to take part in Halloween events? Perhaps you have a different perspective you would like to share. Even when we see things differently, the discussion is always valuable!