Blog: The Chaplain's Chirps
“Candy?! Who’s giving out candy? Every one we know is giving out candy! How do I get in on this deal?! What do I have to do...!?” “Ok, I’ll wear that.”
That's Jerry Seinfeld remembering the first time he heard about trick-or-treating as a kind. Now, depending on your feelings or background, Halloween and trick-or-treating may be uncomfortable for you, but it's a tradition that literally has kids and parents lining up at your doorstep! Regardless if you really love this tradition or not, or whether you call it Halloween, Trick-or-Treat, Harvest Party or whatever, it’s a great opportunity for Jesus’ mission. A friend of mine named Caesar, who’s a pastor near Seattle, shares 7 ideas or steps you can take to help connect with people and really prime the pump for relationships in your neighbourhood this Halloween:
1. Be home! Don’t be “that house” this year. How often do people line up at your house to meet you? Prioritize this occasion and plan to be home. Don’t worry if your kids are already grown, go for it! This is once a year, make the most of this opportunity.
2. Turn on the lights – it says, “We’re home, we’re here and we’re open for business!” Even though Halloween has a tradition of being “scary”, make your house seem super inviting. Turn on lots of lights, prop open your door, or better yet, sit out front and greet people. Don’t make them ring the doorbell and wait and wait wondering if anyone is home.
3. Ask everyone their name and tell them yours too. Seriously. This is basic stuff. When someone you don’t know comes to your home you ask them their name, and you introduce yourself. (We all learned this in kindergarten.) Don’t crack the door and toss a piece of candy out toward their bag. Discipleship and mission moves at the speed of relationship. This may be the start of a new friendship with that family dressed like the Munsters!
4. Give good stuff – be the house and folks everyone looks forward to. I can still remember which houses gave out full-size Snicker bars when I was a kid, and which ones to avoid because they gave you those weird, hard orange circus peanuts that doubled as door stops. Yuck! Be generous. Be like Jesus who brought on the best wine the steward had ever tasted at the wedding feast.
5. Offer a warm drink and a chance to sit down for a few minutes. The evenings are colder now! Set up a table out front with a few chairs and offer hot chocolate or cider. Ask people if they want to “take a load off” for a few minutes while the kids finish up this block. This will let people know that you are open to relationship and not in a hurry to move them along. Maybe a little party will break out, or better yet…
6. Throw an “after-party” for the parents only. One of the coolest things we ever did was make little flyers and hand them out inviting people to come around after trick-or-treating was over for an “adult beverage” and some real appetizers. The flyer said, “Why should kids have all the fun?!” We handed out flyers earlier that week and also to folks that came to our door for trick-or-treat. We had a blast and took things further towards lasting relationships with several people.
7. Organize a neighborhood “Halloween Parade”. Okay, this may be for the more bold among you, but it’s a great idea! A few years ago a good friend of mine, Chuck, started a cool annual tradition. He went around handing out flyers announcing a “Treats in the Street Halloween Parade” that he was organizing for the kids and parents who lived around his home. Everyone met at his place at 5:15 after work. They marched around the neighborhood, up one block and down the other, (folks cheering their heads off) and then back to Chuck’s house where he had a big fire pit blazing in the backyard and gallons of chili cooking away. So fun! This led to many other opportunities throughout the year to have folks in their home and build discipleship relationships.
Bonus Tip: Involve your kids in all of this with you. Duh. They don’t have to be out trick-or-treating the entire time. My kids always had a blast handing out the treats and they already knew many of the families that came calling. Use this time and experience each year to train them in hospitality and intentionality. Let them know why you are doing all of these things and what your hopes are for your neighbors.
So Monday evening - we’ll be admiring the little Supergirls, Batmans and Minions, telling them how great they look as they beam with pride. And through it all we’ll be praying and looking for the people of peace that might want to talk a bit more, that might want prayer, or simply need a listening ear. Looking for people to love, to bless, to befriend. Yes it’s that time of year again, and it’s also a chance to reach out and build relationships on Jesus’ mission. And if I have to do that dressed up as a giant Starbucks Cup (as we're planning to be this year) – then so be it!
For more encouraging thoughts and ideas on missional living check out Caesar’s blog at caesarkalinowski.com