Jimmy Kimmel has done a bit the last couple of years where he asks parents to tell their kids that they ate all of their Halloween candy, and then video the response. It’s my favorite part of Halloween. I love to see the kids go absolutely ballistic when they don’t get their way. I need to know who my future politicians will be (low blow?). It makes me excited to be a dad some day. You should pray for my future kids. The rest of Halloween I could do without. You could say I don’t fancy Halloween much. I don’t enjoy all the dark images, demons, and evil that surrounds it and I definitely don’t trust candy from strangers. I know it makes me sound old school, kind of like your grandma, but I have never liked it.
The truth is that the rest of the world seems to be going in the opposite direction. Before I moved to Round Rock, TX (original name I know), I barely saw Halloween decorations, but now our neighborhoods are filled with them… my neighborhood is filled with them. It makes me wonder about the kind of people living around me when their yards are filled with bats, ghosts, tombstones, dead bodies (fake I hope), and all sorts of ghouls. I’m just trying to survive this crazy holiday.
Don’t get the wrong impression though, just because I don’t like Halloween does not mean I’m the kind of youth pastor that rants to my students about how terrible it is. There are battles I choose to fight and spend my time on in youth ministry…this isn’t one of them. I won’t spend Wednesday night talking about how it’s wrong to go to haunted houses or dress up. I will ask my students to be safe and wear appropriate costumes.
As youth pastors we have to be mindful of the tone we take about such matters. Blasting Halloween may remove your opportunity to talk about the deeper issues of the holiday. Halloween carries a ton of spiritual aspects and image struggles for students, whether it’s girls with their body image or people simply wanting to be something else. When discussing topics like Halloween, I do not want to be a ministry that simply lays out a bunch of do’s and don’ts, telling people what to think and never teaching it’s people to think for themselves. Choosing to fight a surface level cultural battle may mean you lose the chance to talk about the spiritual war going on. Here’s what I mean…
The other day some people in our Lifegroup of young married couples were talking about one of those demon movies (aren’t all scary movies these days?) and I made an off hand comment that we don’t watch those. They thought this was weird, you could tell. At this point they felt the need to clarify, they said they don’t watch scary movies that could actually happen, but since demons aren’t real then these are fine. To them, movies with demons are okay because they have no real elements of evil within them. These are “good” church going people and they don’t believe demons are real.
Our world has an odd concept of evil. We agree that murder is wrong, rape is wrong, and bullying is wrong. It seems our world has a concept of what’s wrong with the physical world, but when it comes to a spiritual realm we leave that to people with backwards beliefs in third world countries and the charismatics. Many people in the church today do not know or believe in “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)
Our churches today have shied away from talking about this realm. We act like it doesn’t exist. Often, celebrating Halloween the way that the world celebrates it, lifts high the spiritual evil and darkness of the world. It magnifies darkness, death, evil, fear, anxiety, and demons. While I will concede that most of this is done in the name of “good fun” and “pretend”, I would contend that this ignorance and embracing of evil is the greater problem. Many people are worshiping darkness without understanding what they are doing.
For many students, you are the most spiritual person they know in their lives.
It’s my prayer that when you speak to your students about Halloween you will use it as an example to teach truth about the spiritual realm. This holiday opens up massive opportunities to have honest spiritual conversations. We can not run from it or ban it. Our world today is more interested in it than ever and it’s not going away any time soon, no matter how much you yell about it from the stage. Let’s be youth ministries that respond and teach well, no matter our preferences.
And for all you Halloween people, enjoy seeing all the foxes, Miley Cyrus’, Monsters’ U, Minions, and whatever else is popular right now. I’ll be on my front porch chilling, handing out candy and watching out for crazy neighbors.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BrandonWeir.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Weir is the Student Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock near Austin, TX. What does Brandon love? “I love my wife Jules, my dog Ranger, Texas Tech, being outdoors, the Texas Rangers, camping, hiking, reading, Torchy’s Tacos and I love me some Jesus.”