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Elementary school children attend the Trunk-or-Treat event at Church Street Elementary School where 3d MCDS Soldiers, members of the Fire Department and Riverdale Police Department hand out candy. Photo by Maj. Satomi Mack-Martin, U.S. Army Reserves.

Photo by Maj. Satomi Mack-Martin, U.S. Army Reserves.

Halloween and Church Outreach: Trick or Treat?


Is Halloween something that should be embraced by the church? Or is it evil and should be avoided?

Christian belief and practice were not formed in isolation from the surrounding culture. Many early elements of Christian worship — including eucharistic meals, meals honoring martyrs and much early Christian funerary art — would have been familar rituals to pagan observers. And from the mid-fourth century on — after Constantine converted to Christianity — Christians deliberately adapted and Christianized pagan festivals (Biblical Archaeology, "How December 25 became Christmas"). 

When the church incorporates secular traditions, remembrances, and holidays that primarily come from our culture and history like Mother's Day or Veterans Day, the secular can be transformed and become a vehicle for faith. What if Halloween became a way for your church to reach out to families in your your neighborhood? Or a safe space for members in your congregation to bring their children? 

Recent research confirms that two-thirds of Protestant pastors see Halloween as an opportunity to reach out to their community and encourage members to invite their neighbors to an event such as a fall fair or trunk-or-treat.

Below you'll find some ideas and examples of how your congregation can use Halloween as a ministry opportunity for your members and as a way to reach out to your community. 

Ideas and resources

Photo showcases pumpkins and gourds. Photo by Roland zh / WikiMedia Commons.

Does The United Methodist Church have a position about Halloween?

Find information about this secular holiday and alternative ways to celebrate the season when you Ask the UMC. Read More

Halloween pumpkin and tealights. Bigstock/Subbotina Anna. Courtesy of

Halloween and Christian faith

What makes Halloween so popular, and why do Christians disagree about whether they should join in? Read More

Candles flicker at Wellspring UMC in Tampa, Fla. Photo by Derek Maul.

Redeeming Halloween by rediscovering Allhallowtide

Shane Raynor has a suggestion for the holiday: "We should do something radical and return Halloween to its roots as an All Saints’ vigil." More

United Methodists choose from a variety of Halloween traditions, including costume day at preschool. Photo by Alison Worden.

Church Halloween alternatives gain fans

Many churches choose events that celebrate life rather than death, offer safe fun for children, or make the day one to give as well as get. Read More

Fall decorations with jack-o-lanterns, gourds and sunflowers. Photo from

Alternative Halloween Celebrations

Make your Halloween a safe one for children in your community. Instead of house-to-house trick-or-treating, try one of these alternatives in your congregation. Read More

Church Hosts Harry Potter Fans at Halloween

Each October, a Massachusetts congregation transforms their space into Hogwarts, and invites the community to spend a magical day with them. View

Haunted? Even Wesleys heard ‘bumps in the night’

It's that time of year. Read ghost stories from churches, cemeteries and the home of one famous Methodist. Read More

Fall festivals continue to be one of the popular ways that churches reach out to their communities. Background image by Lisa Fotios, Illustration by Cindy Caldwell, United Methodist Communications.

5 ways to take your church’s fall festival to the next level

One of the most-anticipated yearly events for many churches is the fall festival. If you’re looking for new church activities to do this fall, then consider these great ideas. Read More

A member of Cass Community United Methodist in Detroit is dressed for the annual haunted house.

Church Haunted House

An inner-city church has decided to use scare tactics, of a different kind, to raise funds to help those dealing with real-life traumas. View