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Reverse Trick or Treating

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Words by Heather Craven // Images by Lynae Adams
Hand-lettering by Baylee Hart // Tag Design by Meghan Caughill

This article was originally published in Issue 3 of Deeply Rooted Magazine.

I can still remember that night. It was Oct. 31, 2003, and about forty of us gathered at a friend's house for a big night of competition. I was dressed as a cowgirl, and my dear friend, a traditional Native American. The task was simple: collect the largest amount of candy in weight, and the money pot is yours. If I remember correctly, the buy-in was five dollars each, which translated to $200 for the lucky pair that won. At the time it was fun, and I’m sure we looked rather humorous as high-school seniors, running around the neighborhood as fast as possible, trick-or-treating, then driving to another neighborhood whose houses were closer together, and another, and so on, in the allotted two hours of competition.

45 pounds later, two guys were each $100 richer. Although I didn’t much care that I wasn’t a winner, when I stop and think about it now, one word comes to mind—selfishness. It was all about me. All about collecting candy for me, and all about winning the money, once again for me. And while it was only candy, and only a night of fun with friends, I’m reminded that me is how it really all began. That day in the garden, it was all about Eve and not the God and creator of the universe. And to this day, that is where our sin problem is rooted: in the Me, Myself, and I complex.

Only a few years earlier in junior high, I found myself running around the neighborhood giving candy to others instead of taking it; well, candy and some hope in the form of an evangelical tract. The first time I ever heard of reverse trick-or-treating, I thought it was the biggest joke. Lame, I thought. What teenager wants to dress up in a costume and walk around the neighborhood giving out candy? Aren’t you supposed to get candy on Halloween? Once again, it was all about me.

So much about Halloween can be dark, scary, and sometimes even satanic that we as believers often find ourselves torn between what is right and wrong. Should I let my kids go trick-or-treating? Is it okay if they trick-or-treat, as long as they don’t dress up as a witch or gargoyle? Maybe we aren’t really participating in Halloween if we just give out candy and refrain from sending our own kids out with costumes and pillowcases. And who really has the right answer?

There is definitely a fine line between living in the world and not of it; however, I also believe the Lord has called us to be salt and light.

Matthew 5:1416 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Here is the question I’m posing: can we, as believers, participate in Halloween festivities, and not be of the world? Can we take the focus off ourselves and point others back to Christ as we branch out to our neighbors and community? The answer, I believe, is yes. I’m sure you know the saying “Hindsight is 20/20.” From the opposite perspective as a mom, I would love nothing more than to see my kids giving instead of getting. And even more than giving candy is sharing the light of Christ with those around us.

Reverse trick-or-treating is one possible solution to the dilemma that comes around every year at Halloween. It really is simple. Dress up, give candy, share Christ, be a light. Be the light that your children see. Be the light that your community sees. Reverse trick-or-treating is an awesome avenue to share the gospel with a variety of strangers, young and old.

The possibilities are endless, but just to give you a jumpstart, here are a few ideas. You don’t even have to be a kid to take part in the fun.

-Dress up the kids and take them to a nursing home. Elderly people love kids . . . and candy.
-Walk around the neighborhood with goodie bags that include candy and a tract or Bible verse.
-Invite other families in the neighborhood to your church’s fall festival or trunk-or-treat.
-Visit the children’s ward at the local hospital and hand out candy to the patients.
-Get together with your kids club group (Awana, Pioneers, Boy/Girl Scouts) and meet the neighbors.
-Don’t have children of your own? Gather your small group together and reach out to your neighbors

Be the light this Halloween, for a city on a hill cannot be hidden. What a way to embody Christ to those around you. Use our FREE printable so you can print out your own tags and be a light this Halloween!