Halloween and COVID - What Should Our Churches Do This Year?

Posted by Aaron Buer on October 1, 2020

One of the challenges of doing ministry during COVID is that what used to be automatic and easy now requires a more intentional and time-consuming approach.

For example, your church may have had a plan for Halloween.

Maybe it was a trunk or treat. Perhaps it was a harvest festival. 

So, what should we do for Halloween this year amid COVID?

That’s a complicated question. Nothing is as easy or simple as it used to be.

We’ve received questions from churches looking for wisdom here. I have three thoughts that might help.

Outreach

In the past, churches often organized some sort of event around Halloween as an outreach to the community.

The event created a point of connection and trust.

Whether it was a trunk or treat, harvest festival, or something else, the purpose was to put on an event that was safe, helpful, and fun.

candy
Through the event, the hope was people from the community would learn about the church and take another step by attending a weekend service or connecting their kids with the children’s ministry.

In light of COVID and recommended safety guidelines, I think the point of connection and trust has changed.

Some see churches as a public health threat because we are gathering for worship services.  

Churches publicly say, 

“We care about our community.  We want to serve the community.” 

And the response is, 

“If you cared about our community, you wouldn’t put us all at risk by gathering.”  

I’m not making a statement about whether or not we should be gathering. I’m simply saying that many in our communities don’t think we should be. 

Here’s my point: As we consider whether to pursue a trunk or treat or harvest festival this year with the coronavirus pandemic, community perception should play into our church leadership conversations.

In the past, we pursued events like this to share the love of Jesus.

In the current climate, sharing the love of Jesus might mean not holding a Halloween event.

care
It’s possible that the best way to generate goodwill toward your church in the community is not to pursue an event that gathers lots of people.

As unlikely as it seems, I think it’s important to consider how the unintended spread of  COVID at your Halloween event could negatively impact the perception of your church in your community. 

Also, it’s important to check with your state and city rules.

In many states, there are exemptions for worship services, but not every event a church puts on is considered a worship service.  

With all that said, you might live in an area with far fewer restrictions than mine.

Half your town might attend your church, or you might simply disagree with me. Fair enough!

Let’s talk about how to hold an event like this safely and wisely.  

Safety-minded

If your church plans to host a Halloween event of some kind this year, here are a few ideas to consider to help you make it as safe as possible. 

  • Hold the event outside.
  • To keep numbers within an acceptable range, invite people from your church to attend in stages. For example, last names that start with A-L attend from 7-8 PM and M-Z from 8-9 PM.
  • Consider using an RSVP system like reopen.church to regulate the number of people attending (Yes, you can use reopen.church for more than your church services!) 
  • Pre-package candy in bags for families or create a contactless system for candy delivery.
  • Consider handing out non-editable items like coloring books, crafts, or little toys.
  • Mark the ground for social distancing.

pumpkin
If you have other helpful ideas to provide a safe Halloween event, we’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments section at the end of this post.

Resources

Both church and non-church people are confused about what to do with Halloween this year.

Do we let our kids go trick or treating? Do we let them go to a party?

Here’s an idea that would require some work but could have a huge payoff:

What if your church created a resource kit to help parents with Halloween this year?

gift-bagsWhat if you put together family-based activities, pre-packaged candy, snack recipes, crafts, DIY decorated masks, etc. to equip parents to hold their own small Halloween party?  

And, what if you made this resource available to families in your community as a way to serve them?

I believe a project like this could generate goodwill, a greater sense of trust, and even curiosity from people in your community to learn more about your church.

Wrap Up

Helping parents with Halloween this year might be the best way to share the love of Jesus with your community.

If you have other helpful ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Topics: Advice

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