For the past twenty years in Children’s Ministry, I have planned and hosted a “Fall Festival” (a.k.a. “Harvest Party”, “Hallelujah Night”, “Fall Fest”, “Family Fun Fest”, “Trunk or Treat”, etc.) at the church where I was serving. These events generally were seen as a fun Family Event that served as an “alternative to trick-or-treating and Halloween.”
The typical “Fall Festival” usually looks a bit like this:
- It is a family-oriented celebration/party.
- It may have costumes.
- Games are played.
- Contests are held.
- Food abounds.
- Music blares.
- Everyone enjoys themselves.
Certainly there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a Fall Festival on its face. I love dressing up in funny costumes. I love seeing what crazy costumes the kids will come up with. I love games, fun, and candy. All of that is awesome!!!
However, several years ago, I began to ask the question: “Is our Fall Festival actually counter productive?” Could it be that this event actually works against what our mission is as the church: “to know Christ, make Him known, and reach the lost people in our city and around the world?”
Now, before I go any further – I want to assure you that I am not indicting anyone who does Fall Festivals. As I said, I have done one for the last twenty years. But, as I and our pastoral team put more thought into it we had several questions come up.
1) Why do we feel the need to do an “alternative event” for our families on Halloween? We don’t do an “alternative event” for Mardis Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, or other random holidays.
2) Are we really “connecting” with the lost people who come? We consider it a “bridge event” (connecting the lost of our community to the church in a non-threatening way). Do they end up just stopping by to play a game, win a bag of candy, and move right along to the next church that’s throwing a Harvest Party?
3) What about the people in our neighborhoods? I have been most frustrated by the fact that on the darkest night of the year, it seems the Church has gathered all of the “light” together in one place (the church) in order to “escape the darkness” – and there is absolutely no light represented in our neighborhoods. For the last twenty years, the very people I MOST want to reach, my neighbors, have been out on Halloween going door-to-door. On a night when they are voluntarily coming to MY house, giving me an opportunity to speak to them and show God’s love – my house is dark with no light on because…the pastor is at his church throwing an alternative party.
I welcome your thoughts. I posted this as a means to initiate discussion and provoke thought on this subject. I purposefully waited until AFTER Halloween to post this because I didn’t want to appear to be “dumping on” something that many people were in the middle of planning. I invite disagreement and diversity of opinion. Would love to hear what you think.