As parents and followers of Christ, my husband and I make careful choices about how we observe different holidays.  While Halloween is a secular holiday for most in our culture, the same could be said for Christmas and Easter. One may even argue that the secular versions of those holidays are even more dangerous because they are masked behind beautiful colors and seemingly soft and harmless messaging.

The ugliness and darkness attached to Halloween make it difficult, but we’ve found many different ways to use the holiday to talk to point our kids to the gospel and even share the message with others.

1. We don’t “celebrate” Halloween at our house. We participate in it … carefully. I make it clear to my kids that we don’t celebrate evil. We don’t decorate with ghosts or zombies. We use fall pumpkins, mums, and hay. The kids aren’t allowed to dress up as anything evil or demonic. If they want “dark,” they can dress up as a scary historical figure. This year my son will dress up in the Black Plague attire worn by doctors of that era. By negotiating the costumes, I get to talk to my son about evil in the world, why I don’t allow it, and I even get to sneak in some history lessons.

While we don’t celebrate evil, death, or demons, we do acknowledge that they exist. However, we don’t have to be afraid because God is greater than any evil, demons, and Jesus overcame death. If they want something to be scared of, they should fear the wrath of God.

2. Halloween brings up the subject of death. Our culture does not like to talk about death. We have “anti-aging” products that keep people looking young. Permanent dyes hide graying hair. Medicine continually searches for paths to longevity. The average life span now is the longest it has been since the days of Noah.

So death is not an easy topic to bring up, especially with children. But it’s a necessary part of the gospel. The fear of death is what drives a person to consider their eternal destiny.

Halloween presents a great opportunity to talk to my children about death. Their biological father was killed in a car accident when they were very young, and this year a grandmother died. We can talk about where these loved ones are now. They aren’t zombies or skeletons—they are alive and will live forever because they put their faith in Jesus while they lived on earth. As Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

3. I talk to my kids about All Saints Day. Even though Halloween has pagan roots, like other holidays, it also has Christian roots. All Hallow’s Eve was the day before All Saint’s Day, a day to remember the martyrs and fathers of the faith that paved the way for the practice of our religion. It’s a day to remember people like the Apostles, Stephen, Perpetua, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. The goblins and pumpkin faces were meant as a device to scare off the evil spirits, so that November 1 could be the holiest day of the year.

The idea of scaring off evil spirits is terrible theology. But when I talk to my children about the purpose for the scares, they realize that it’s not for celebrating evil. It’s for the purpose of celebrating the saints.

October 31 also happens to be the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to the door of Wittenberg—the beginning of the Reformation. That’s just another layer of educating kids about church history.

4. We use the day as an opportunity to share the gospel. Halloween is one of the best times of the year to interact with your neighbors and the culture around you. My family has used the days leading up to Halloween to go to the park across the street and pass out candy and gospel tracts to campers. This year, we want to go to a nearby apartment complex and knock on doors to pass out goody bags and tracts.

And what other time of year do dozens of strangers willingly show up at your home? I take my kids door-to-door while it’s still light outside, and then we come home to hand out candy and gospel tracts to the trick or treaters who come through our neighborhood. One year the tract I passed out was so popular that people came to our door asking for them! I was passing out tracts to moms and dads and people who wanted to take some to their friends.

You can pick up gospel tracts for a minimal cost (just a few cents per tract) at your local Christian bookstore. And there the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Live Stream Ministries are among several groups that provide downloads you can print.

Copyright © 2017 by Sabrina McDonald.