Fall Fervor: Churches Seize Cultural Moments for Community Engagement, Witness

 In All Church of God, CHOG

By Carl Stagner

Dear theologians and church history buffs: October 31 isn’t just Reformation Day. While most would agree the contributions of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation are of tremendous historical and spiritual value, the neighbors living across from, behind, and next to local Churches of God across the United States and Canada know the last day of October as Halloween. Apart from the hotly debated origins of All Hallows’ Eve (especially among Christians), the candy-coated, spook-laden annual cultural moment is one that numerous Church of God congregations have opted to seize for the sake of community engagement and witness.

Most Church of God congregations organizing events this month hosted trunk-or-treats as safe, fun gatherings for the whole family. Motivated by the goal of loving their neighbor, churches scheduled trunk-or-treats as early as mid-October, advertising not only free candy for costumed kids, but also everything ranging from hot dog and chili dinners to games, door prizes, and much more. Taking advantage of the crowds representing a broad cross-section of the community, churches communicated the gospel in deed, in word, sometimes in a tract, and often including invitations to church services and upcoming events—even a save-the-date for next summer’s Vacation Bible School. Neighbors consistently responded favorably, noting the time and effort churches put into the programs, and being reminded, in a tangible way, that their local church exists and is an essential element of their community.

Trunk-or-treat setup at Mountain Park Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

New Horizons Community Church in Spokane, Washington, welcomed participants in droves to their outdoor trunk-or-treat. “We stopped counting after 700 cars and 2,500 people!” they report. “God is so, so good! What a day! We love you, Spokane!”

First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, didn’t hold to the mold for their autumn outreach. Instead of hosting a candy giveaway in the parking lot, they went inside—and not inside their own building—and not by themselves. Nearby George Rogers Clark High School was the host facility, putting their ministry smack dab in the middle of the people of their city and surrounding county. “We had an amazing night,” they report, “serving almost 1,100 [people], alongside four other churches…. We had as much fun as the kids walking through!”

“’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” setup for a trunk-or-treat at Maxey Valley First Church of God (Hustonville, Kentucky).

Fall festival may be the term of choice for churches opting to trade symbols of ghouls and goblins for the Holy Ghost, but the Church of God congregation in Plantation, Florida, chooses another name. “We enjoyed all of the youth that came out for Hallelujah Day,” they report. “Because we don’t celebrate Halloween, we still wanted to do something fun for the youth in our community and congregation. They got to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, play games, paint, color and, of course, get tons of candy!”

Peak Community Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, captured the attention of their city with live music, pumpkin decorating, apple cider pressing, and more. Bethel Family Worship Center in Kansas City, Missouri, utilized new equipment for the cause, including a cotton candy machine and a popcorn popper. Celebration Church at Monroe Street in Baltimore, Maryland, utilized the park they helped build for their community by further blessing neighbors with a bounce house, face painting, pumpkin painting, food, and more.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” —Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

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