Happy Halloween! Do you have a problem with that? Not me.
Halloween is one of my favorite days, not because I have some kind of a "dark" personality or love wearing black and orange, but because it forces the church to deal with the culture it lives in. The church typically has one of two responses to the culture on this day: either fight it, or use it.
Example #1: the embattled approach. The church, evangelicals in particular, have circled the wagons and are using all kinds of militant language these days. We are told to "join the battle," "take back America," "fight for our teens." The embattled approach is typified by one of the neighbors on my block. On Halloween he posts a sign made out of fluorescent poster board reading, "We are Christians and we do not participate in evil Halloween practices. Do not knock on our door." It's "us" against "them"....
Example #2: the missional approach. Our church sponsors a neighborhood carnival at our facility. We live in the middle of several low-income apartment complexes. The need for these children is to have some place safe to trick-or-treat and play games for the evening. Our little church will meet several hundred people on this evening. And a very interesting thing has happened over the last few years as we do more of these types of events: the people on North Fresno Street are beginning to call us their church, and most have never been in a worship service! We gather together as Anglos, Hispanics, and African-Americans, rub shoulders playing games, and eat some good Mexican food! This is a lot closer to what I imagine the kingdom of God to be than what we usually get on Sunday morning. Here's some pics from last year (thanks to Paul Mullins for lending his professional skills).