With debate about what to do as a church in response to Halloween, I asked Ricardo Miller, children's pastor and one of our top-20 children's ministry influencers, to weigh in. Here's what he said.
Q: What are you doing for kids around Halloween this year?
Ricardo: For more than a decade at our church, Pathway of Life in Dallas, Texas, we have hosted what we’ve termed as “Fall Festival”--a fun, family friendly event where we open our campus up to the community with an outdoor fair. We have bounce houses, food and games and give out candy. We don’t encourage anyone to dress up, but don’t turn away those who do. It’s in a safe and secure environment and we have security patrolling the premises at all times. This year, we’re even introducing a Car and Motorcycle Show & a Barbeque Cook-off to encourage an even broader group to come. In each of our giveaway bag,s we include witnessing literature so people aren’t just getting goodies, but a Godly message as well. There is a large evangelistic team that also is ready to minister the gospel to the more than 3,000 children who are expected to be at the Fall Festival. This is our church’s 2nd largest annual event that is centered around reaching children in our community.
Q: Why aren't you just avoiding it?
Ricardo: We aren’t avoiding it because this is one of the largest family night outtings in our community where children in the public schools and the public at large are encouraged to go trick-or-teating. We take advantage of this opportunity to reach the thousands of families and allow them to engage in a good Christian-based alternative for their family. If we don’t seize this moment, we miss an incredible chance to engage and bring in those who may not know Christ and may never come to a church for a regular church service. We use this as an opportunity to show people the love of Christ. It’s all free and open to the public. I also believe one of the mistakes we make in the Body of Christ is trying to avoid or turn a deaf ear/blind eye to the things around us that we perceive as not godly. My position is that we were not placed on earth to allow the devil to take over, rather to allow the light of Christ to shine through us and for us to take territory for His Kingdom.
Q: What "fruit" have you seen by engaging with Halloween in the way you do?
Ricardo: Each year we see thousands of individuals give their lives to Christ on our church grounds as they gather during the Fall Festival, our Christian alternative to Halloween. Children and parents alike have been re-introduced to the local church and because of our fast-growing surrounding community we are able to introduce young growing families to the many services our church has to offer the community along with good Christian fun, fellowship and food. We see tons of new families joining our church shortly after this event and see a renewed level of excitement with our children as they get a chance to invite their unchurched friends to church, not only to participate in the activities but get a chance to be introduced to Jesus Christ through our Each One Reach One Campaign.
Q: What challenge would you give to kidmins who say "it's from the devil and we should just avoid it"?
Ricardo: For any kidmin who would say “it’s from the devil and we should just avoid it,” I would agree that Halloween has its origins outside of the church. However, I believe the church should not allow any customs, practices or traditions to take over our communities and we not have a counter attack to better reach our community and provide a better alternative to practicing something that was once dedicated to the devil. We ought not give the devil any days, weeks, months or years. Nothing belongs to him and one of the mistakes I’ve seen made consistently is handing over our schools, and our communities, to the hands of the devil when it is our responsibility, as kidmins to go wherever children are with a positive Christian-based program that will attract them to the Kingdom.
To learn more about Ricardo, go to www.ricardomiller.com.
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