25 Oct

For years, I have attempted to communicate the essence and importance of God’s grace. His grace is powerful and is able to completely transform lives.

In many circumstances, one of the “opposites” of grace is legalism. Life must be lived according to rules, rather than heart transformation. This is what leads to apparent change on the outside, but very little change on the inside of a person’s life.

My children are young and are learning more and more about what we believe as a family. I told one of my kids that Halloween represents many things that we do not believe in. Because of this, I ended up with a child in tears!

Think about this: my child was in tears, not because they understand Halloween, or because they “love” Halloween, or because they agree with what Halloween represents. They were in tears because they like to dress up!

Don’t all kids like to dress up?

Either way, after the tears subsided, I had the opportunity to share with my kids what we believe regarding Halloween. Here is my attempt to explain it to the rest of us.

I ask you one thing: before casting judgment, read the WHOLE POST. I pray that you enjoy!

Halloween is bad.

It currently represents many things that go contrary to what we believe. It carries an extremely negative spiritual element and I believe causes people to NOT understand the full ramifications of what goes on in the spirit world.

It desensitizes people and makes them believe that witches/ghosts/demons/etc are just games to be played, rather than present realities that carry real power.

Ephesians 6:12 states,

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

With all of that said, I believe that something else is also true.

You and I are bad.

We are filled with all sorts of evil desires fueled by selfishness and pride. As humans we look at ourselves as our own gods, believing that we are the ones who control our futures and our destinies.

David says in Psalm 14:3,

“But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one! ”

That is not good.

BUT, God chose to come to earth in human flesh, in order to give His life as a payment for ours, and to give us the opportunity to be redeemed by Him.

And, He has redeemed me. All of me. My evil heart, my bad desires, my concern only for myself, my sin, and so much more. He redeemed me.

And if God redeemed me, His very own creation, is it then impossible for Him to redeem one day of the year? A day that He created?

Or, are we to believe that October 31 is forever lost, and God has no power to change it? Are we to believe that Satan has won? Are we to believe that, as Christians, we must run, hide, and stay away from this darkness, until its over?

Are we to believe that just because we ignore it for one day, it doesn’t exist the other 364 days of the year?

I think not!

If Jesus, the Perfect, Holy, and Loving God, came as the Light into this dark world to redeem us, then are we, His chosen ones, not also called to go into dark areas and spread the light of Christ?

So, let’s celebrate! Many would think that celebrating an “alternative” event on Halloween night (festival, rally, etc.) is essentially repackaging an evil tradition in a different costume.

While that is possibly true for some people, I would disagree. Is it not possible that many churches choose to be a light in the midst of darkness, promoting healthy and Jesus centered fun, allowing a dark world around us to see that there is a different option?

And this is why I am thankful for The Church On The Way/La Iglesia En El Camino. For years I participated in the planning of God glorifying events that would allow others to see that the love of God was real.

The problem with legalism in Christianity is that it doesn’t replace the enticing things of the world with a better option. It simply says “no” to the world without saying “yes” to anything else. If God truly is the best, then we should be able to offer something that is far beyond anything the world can create (and I’m not talking about a church prayer event to pray against the evils of Halloween).

We transform culture not simply by praying about it, but by engaging it and showing that there’s a better way. On this October 31st, we have the opportunity to do it.

Now, as the pastor of CityLife Church/Iglesia Ciudad de Vida, we are just getting our start as a church plant. We DON’T have an event planned for October 31st, but I am thankful for the many churches that do.

I encourage you, whether you’re a pastor of a church or the parent of your family, to not ignore or run from Halloween. Rather, use it as an opportunity to show the greatness of our God in stark contrast to the depravity of the world.

Now, I didn’t say all of this to my kids…their attention span isn’t long enough! This post might have been been too long for some of you! But, I did explain to my kids that even though what the world celebrates is bad, we can celebrate Someone even greater and have a great time doing it.

So, their costumes are ready and we’re going to have a great time. What will my family be doing on October 31st? I think we’ll be celebrating some family birthdays!

I encourage you…if you have questions, comments, or want to write ideas about what you plan on doing, post it as a comment on this blog (your email will remain private). I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading. Let’s believe in the power of God to transform!


Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Cultural Commentary, Life, Ministry


Tags: , , , , , ,

20 responses to “Halloween

  1. Andrew

    October 26, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Loved the POST!!! totally agree.

    We are passing out candy and small invitations to our church service and food program that we have every sunday.

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 26, 2011 at 11:54 pm


  2. Sandra D.

    October 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    This is horrible! Why dress up? This means you are celebrating Halloween no matter what you want to call it. God gave you children so you can teach them the right way not to confuse them. Tell them the truth. Just how Christians really celebrate Christmas…it’s not Santa, it’s the birth of Jesus. Christians, don’t be blinded by the devil’s wise and choose not to celebrate Halloween, Fall Festival, Hallelujah Festival…no matter what you want to call it. Whatever you’re doing this day, you’re celebrating evil. Why don’t you instead get together at churches, homes and pray for our cities. We don’t need another festival, we need to be on our knees and pray and show our children how to pray, not to dress up. Wake up!

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 26, 2011 at 11:55 pm

      I love Jesus and I celebrate Jesus on October 31st (just like everyday). There are many ways to do it.

  3. J.D.

    October 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Great Post! I find to often non-Christians know what we’re against, but don’t know what we’re for. Wouldn’t be great if there wasn’t a need for a post like this, families just came to church events on the 31st because they were FUN! If this were the case, I think we’d see an explosion of new families visiting the church.

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

      What we’re for…not what we’re against. That’s it! Great reply.

  4. Alma

    October 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I could write a whole… but I’ll just say I agree with you for now.

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      I’ll take your agreement “for nowl…haha!

  5. Hazael Dorantes

    October 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I disagree with the costumes, but i think it’s a good idea for showing de love of god to others.

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      Fair enough.

  6. John

    October 29, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Amen Pastor..I checked my calander and God created all the days on it..Score..God 365…satan 0

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 29, 2011 at 11:36 am

      Love it!

  7. Stelian

    October 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Awesome insight, I really thought about what you said, if we take away and give no alternative and just say no, that is a form of legalisim. I have many friends who traditionally believe that Halloween is all bad and there always feels to be something wrong there. I mean, not only one the issue with holidays like Halloween. But even to church practices like mandatory “suit and boot” for church on Sundays, I understand culture. But yeah I wish things were different.

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      We need to form a church culture that follows Christ, but connects with the world where they’re at. Thanks for the reply!

  8. Monica

    October 31, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Love it Jeff. I agree, we shouldn’t hide from this “holiday”. Evil spirits and the unseen world is a reality and I just see this as an opportunity to talk to people about the real side of the dark world. I’m carving a pumpkin that I recently bought from a beautiful family farm in Moorpark. 🙂 Have fun with your kids! 🙂

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 31, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Awesome! Pumpkins are great!

  9. Lugardita Mossadaq

    October 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I disagree with the costumes, the rest I agree with.. I like what you said “I love Jesus and I celebrate Jesus on October 31st (just like everyday). There are many ways to do it.” Amen to that… Great Post! ; ) Keep up the great work you’re doing. Have a fabulous day & God bless!

    • Jeff Tolle

      October 31, 2011 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks for the reply! The reason the costumes are not a big deal to me is because they dress up on other days of the year for different things…so this day is no different for them than the other times. Either way, Jesus is the focus! Thanks again for posting.

  10. Tim Mossholder

    November 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Jeff…I really appreciate your approach with this topic that has been looked at through different lenses during modern churched history. A few decades back, when I was a grade-school Christian costume wearer, I went to a church that threw “Jesus Loves You” parties on Halloween. Even as a child I was embarrassed to invite my non-Christian costume wearing friends to the party, not because the events were bad, but because of the over-the-top name for an “October 31st” party. As a child I felt the sharp disconnect between the deeply well intentioned efforts of my church and the kid-culture in which I was growing up.

    Maybe the way I’d say it now is that the church has 52 Sundays every year to throw “Jesus Loves You” parties — but there’s only one Halloween each year in which we get to “redemptively participate” with our neighbors in their celebration. As the church on Halloween we can contribute in ways that will be truly meaningful in our culture, as we offer our neighbors: a safe environment, more fun than kids will have elsewhere, better candy than they’ll get down the street — and most importantly, the offer of ongoing community and relationship. When we do that, maybe they’ll want to come and participate in a few of our 52 “Jesus Loves You” parties we throw throughout the year.

    Keep up the great work!

    Tim Mossholder

    • Jeff Tolle

      November 5, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      “redemptively participate”…couldn’t have said it better myself. Years ago we called The Church On The Way youth event on October 31 “Root of Fear”…I think it attracted more attention than a “Jesus loves you” party. Great thoughts. Thanks!


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