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New and scary opportunities for evangelism

New and scary opportunities for evangelism

There will likely be three main reactions to the news that Matthias Media has published its first ever Halloween-themed tract (for kids).

  1. Some will just shrug. Maybe these people don’t see tracts as having much evengelistic merit anyway, or they perhaps view Halloween as an unattractive American cultural import that should be ignored as much as possible.
  2. Others will say, “What took you so long?! I’ve been wanting a good, not-blatantly-American tract to use for years.”
  3. Yet others will say, “I see Matthias Media have sold out and don’t take the Bible’s teaching about evil seriously anymore.”

I’m not really sure in what proportions those three reactions will be, but I thought I’d share a bit of my own thinking.

If you go to the Wikipedia entry on Halloween, you’ll see that there are a lot of angles to Halloween, and a fair bit of conjecture and guesswork about its origins and meaning. Halloween really is quite hard to untangle. And even if we could untangle it, Christians take different views about what is appropriate in terms of cultural engagement anyway.

But here’s what persuaded me that the time was right to offer a gospel resource for Halloween: when I look at what goes on in my suburb on 31 October, and by all reports other suburbs too, it seems a long way removed from the potential meanings of Halloween described on Wikipedia.

What I observe is basically a dress-up festival that has become a significant community-building social event. Yes, there’s some fake gore, and the occasional witch or devil, but I see more Supermans, princesses, Snow Whites and other Disney characters. I see fancy dress costumes opening up front doors and people engaging with each other as neighbours for the first time.

So I think Halloween has become a real opportunity for us to engage with our neighbours and to say something about Jesus in a gentle and topical way as we also offer those kids who come to our doors some (notably generous!) treats.

One of the things we’ve tried to do with this tract is to speak honestly to kids about the fact that—just like Halloween—life has some lovely things and some scary, horrible things. In that sense we are acknowledging to the kids the self-evident truth that there is evil in our world. But we also want to tell kids that Jesus is the king of everything, and so if we are friends with him we don’t have to worry about anything.

Here is the full artwork and text of the tract for you to see the approach we’ve taken. Have a read, and decide what you think.

By the way, not only is this the first time we’ve done a Halloween tract, it’s the first time we’ve decided to sell tracts in bundles of 25. We can’t see much point in people buying four or five of these to give away. They are designed to be given out to every trick-or-treating child (and adult!) that comes to your door. If you’re in a quiet street, and only get 10 kids coming to your door, just keep the extras for next year or split them with a Christian friend in the same situation (but different location!).

But here’s a little practical tip if lots of families happen to walk by your house or church building at Halloween: set up a drink stand on the footpath and as they walk past, offer those families a nice cold drink—as well as the obligatory lollies and a copy of the tract. When we did this, people really appreciated the drink on a warm October evening, because they had not thought to bring water with them. Because they paused for a drink, that gave us a bit more time to engage in conversation (and to hand them flyers with details of the kids and youth programs at our church).

Realistically, I’m not expecting to have convinced many of you to shift from your initial reaction, whatever it was. It’s okay to dislike Halloween! But if you can see any potential at all in using this tract to introduce some kids and their parents to the name of Jesus, I hope you’ll prayerfully give it a try.

Ian Carmichael

Ian has been with Matthias Media from its beginning (1988). In late 2020 he stepped down from the CEO role, and now works as an honourary consultant and editor for Matthias Media and Vinegrowers. Ian and his wife, Stephanie, have two adult children, two (gorgeous) grandchildren, and are part of Chatswood Presbyterian church in Sydney. Ian is one of the Vinegrowers team providing free consultations for church leaders who want to more effectively grow the disciple-making culture in their church.