Today is one of my favorite days of the entire year. It is that once a year magic of Halloween where kids dress up in their favorite TV characters, favorite monster, or pretty much anything that gives them the appropriate cultural security clearances to accept free candy from neighbors, local businesses, churches, and school-approved functions.
Dressing up is awesome. I remember my favorite costumes of dressing up as Don Majkowski, the year I dressed as Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat (so cool), or the year I went as the devil and my brother was cookie monster (the picture is a classic, I wish I still had it).
Even better than dressing up is getting a chance to give candy to kids and get to speak to your neighbors. I met more neighbors in our area last year through Halloween than any other single day of the year. My son and I sat on the sidewalk by our house and were able to bless our neighborhood with hot chocolate and it was really cool to get to talk to people and enjoy a little conversation on a chilly night.
And the candy…the pounds and pounds of candy. I have a particular jones for Milk Duds and Laffy Taffy. Mmmmm…Laffy Taffy.
However, there is one thing that drives me absolutely crazy about Halloween that I need to get off my chest. No, I am not talking about the ultra-revealing and highly inappropriate costumes that are sold to women and girls every single year. I am not talking about the safety of the day or the pranks that are pulled by middle and high school kids on un-suspecting neighbors and teachers. Nope, I am talking about the annoying practice of stuffing Halloween-themed Bible tracts into the plastic pumpkins of un-suspecting kids.
I make no apologies for saying that this is one of the stupidest things that a disciple of Jesus Christ can do and I would contend that it is less loving than *gasp* dressing up as the devil. Not only is this highly ineffective at actually making disciples of Jesus, it is a practice that unhelpfully goes against the grain of evangelism It also sends out a message that not only do we not love our neighbors, but that we don’t really like them, either. I know a lot of people are going to bristle at the suggestion that handing out evangelism tracts is a stupid idea, but I challenge you to convince me that it is actually a loving gesture.
I find it to be a picture of laziness in our walk with Christ and a self-justification that we checked off evangelism on our obedience check list and pat ourselves on the back for “redeeming” this “Devil’s holiday”. When we just slap a tract on the back of the fun-size Butterfinger we’re not making disciples, we’re drawing up cultural battle lines and not bothering to think that, instead of creating a hostile thin red line between us and those that “celebrate” Halloween, Jesus just might want us to obey his Word and to “do the work of an evangelist” and cross that line in order to start some not-yet-Christians on the journey to becoming followers of Jesus.
Evangelism is NOT an information blast on a tiny piece of paper, an extemporaneous conversation, or an 1800’s style camp-meeting, although all of those things can and have served as mediums for evangelism. Evangelism is a sharing of the good news, which is a pillar of and an avenue for making disciples of Jesus Christ. To limit our evangelism and the sharing of the good news with our neighbors and their children to a silly tract in a pillow case is not just ineffective disciple-making, but it is lazy and borders on being disobedient. Jesus didn’t invite us in to his family to pass out tracts, he drafted us into his spiritual army to get right into the thick of the action. Tract passing is propaganda work; real evangelism is getting into the trenches of our community and the muck and mess of people lives and speaking the good news of God reconciling us to Himself through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, I know quite a few people who have gotten those tracts in their bags. I have never heard a person say that they enjoyed receiving that. Usually it is good for a laugh and trying to think about who gave it to them, and then it is quickly tossed in the trash. If this is the case (and my circumstantial evidence is just that but I am positive others have similar stories) then why are we wasting our time with this and why aren’t we moving on to embracing “new” ways of evangelizing and making disciples on Halloween (and every other day for that matter).
Let’s follow Jesus’ command to GO and MAKE disciples and STOP printing and stuffing useless Halloween tracts that don’t MAKE disciples but only FAKE spread the good news of Jesus Christ.