Halloween vs. Fall Festival

Another great observation by a friend of mine today got me to thinking about the church’s reaction to Halloween.  And in my typical fashion, I started looking at the holiday and what the church might consider in its marketing strategy.  Before I go too far into my diatribe, I should preface this with some ground rules:

  1. I’m referring to churches that like to provide a “Fall Festival” or seasonal event as an alternative to the traditional Halloween party or Trick or Treat experience.
  2. I’m also making the assumption that these fall festival events are meant as some type of outreach to the community.
  3. Finally, I’m making the slightly cynical assumption that like our fair town, it seems every church on every corner has their own variation on the same theme.

Speaking as someone who enjoys strategic marketing I wanted to pose some questions and perhaps an idea or two.  In my past experience with Fall Festivals, Judgement Houses, Harvest Festivals, or whatever you want to call them; it seems to me the primary objective was to provide an alternative to Halloween.  Is this perception correct? If so, then it begs the question, are we as Christians providing these fall festivals as an alternative to Halloween for the sake of our own membership?  I submit that most churches promote these events primarily to their own church body.  Yes, it is certainly open to the community at large and church’s are rightfully excited to have visitors attend the event; however, the vast majority of those that attend are already members of that body.  The effect of such an effort then actually works AGAINST what the church would like to achieve.  Rather than it being an effective outreach tool, it becomes another event insulating the congregation even more.  The perception being, the church is less in touch with its community.

If the church really wants to make inroads into the community it would seem necessary to change our perspective.  Rather than have an event at the church, which is one of the last places a non-church going person would think to go on Halloween,  it would seem vital to get into the community somehow.  What if the church encouraged families to stay at home and pass out candy to revelers?  What if little notes were given out with the candy sharing God’s sweet love with a sweet treat?  Take it even further…what if strategic homes were decorated with stories from scripture to teach lessons?  I would be happy to turn my garage into a lion’s den.  I would invite all the kids in to meet Daniel (played by someone who is not so bright).  I’m sure the wild nature park would loan me a couple of lions to pull it off. 

Joking aside, the reason for this logic is simple.  If the same number of church goers stayed at home and passed out candy with a positive message to kids in their neighborhoods, a far greater number of non-church going individuals would be touched. 

My discovery today was this; until we start questioning why we do what we do we’ll continue doing what we’ve been doing without really knowing why we’re doing it.

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