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A Missional Perspective on Halloween

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by Phil Metzger

A Missional Perspective on Halloween

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

It’s Halloween… Happy Reformation Day!

(Yes, it’s a real thing, and no, this article is NOT about that.) On this day, kids will be hurrying home from school, dressing up and heading out to get candy from their neighbors. I grew up doing this, and I loved it every year.

When I got saved I became aware of some of the other elements of Halloween- its history and some of the pagan practices. And then, not long after, my small family and I moved to Eastern Europe as missionaries.

For the last 20 years, we left Halloween behind and Thanksgiving, Independence Day and a whole host of holidays unique to the U.S. Besides that, we left our families, friends and a sense of an American-only identity. We did this willingly because we were (and still are) convinced that God had called us to share Jesus in Hungary. And in exchange for October 31, July 4, and other American holidays, we gained new holidays celebrated by Hungarians all over the world. March 15, commemorating the revolution of 1848, August 20, commemorating the first king of Hungary and October 23, remembering the revolution of 1956. Most of all we inherited a broader view of the world.

Then the Lord called us to San Diego, California, and just like that, we were back in an American life including all its holidays, sporting events and farmers markets. We don’t see ourselves as leaving the mission field as much as embracing a new mission field. Which brings me back to Reformation Day… Halloween.

I realize that many Christians have strong views against this holiday and what it represents for some. This is my feeble attempt at helping us see this from a different perspective.

Try and see this holiday for what it is today: The one day of the year when many of the families in your neighborhood take their little ones and come up to your door.

It’s the one day of the year when it’s not creepy to slowly meander through your neighborhood while your kids beg for candy from everyone. It’s community.

Try and see this holiday from a foreigner’s perspective. It’s a day when people are exchanging friendship and candy.

Try and see this from a missional perspective.

It’s an opportunity to engage in our community rather than oppose it. You do not have to compromise the gospel to be kind and friendly on Halloween. And compromise is what this is all about isn’t it? It’s the concern that, by celebrating Halloween, we are promoting evil and paganism.

Consider this: Instead of becoming overly agitated with the fringe elements of Halloween, let’s see it for what it is today for the large majority of people- a day for communities to come together and show some love to our kids (and candy, lots of candy!)

Phil Metzger

​​​Phil Metzger is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel San Diego. ​​​He was the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Budapest & has served as a full-time missionary since 1998.