Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Reach Your Neighbors, 4 of 6

How can a Christian use Halloween to build relationships in their neighborhood that lead to sharing the gospel? Here are some ideas...

First thing first. Here is what John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota, said when asked about his perspective on Halloween:
"It's kind of one of those questions of, 'Do you see Christ against culture, Christ in culture, or Christ over culture?’ I would guess that at our church there would be people from one end of the perspective to the other. That is, some who would say, 'We don't want anything to do with that demonic holiday! Why would you even be involved with that at all?' And others who would have their children dress up as a butterfly and go knocking on doors and say, "Trick or treat!" And then in the middle would be people who do counter events, like a thing at the church where you dress up like biblical characters and have a great time.

I would hope that all Christians would think biblically and carefully about any holiday, any event, and how they might be salt and light in it. And if they feel like this can be of value to the kids in some way, to teach them—if it can be an innocent way of enjoying God's grace and teaching lessons—so be it. I'm willing to run the risk of connection to worldliness in order to be biblically faithful in witness. The same thing with Christmas and birthdays and Easter and worshipping on Sunday. All of these things have pagan connections.

I want to be loose and broad and give freedom to believers to find their way to be most effective. So I respect those who are renouncing it as too connected with evil, and I respect those who say, 'No, let's redeem it and penetrate it and use it.’"

The Davidson household has chosen to engage in Halloween in our neighborhood. We are okay if you disagree. We won’t judge you for not engaging in Halloween. I think Piper serves us well to say that there is liberty here for believers.

Below, I’ll share what we have done to try to develop personal relationships during Halloween night. It is a difficult tension between:
1. Kids wanting to go fast and hit as many houses as possible.
2. Casey and I wanting to introduce ourselves to parents and kids and make a connection.

To help with this tension, we have done a few things to help slow down the evening. 
1. We have put out hot water and hot chocolate packets. We sit out in the garage with the door open to hand out candy and invite people in to get some hot chocolate. 
2. We hang a white sheet in the back of the garage and project a movie on it like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” 

Both of these options allow for the child to be put at ease watching the movie or making hot chocolate while you try to make a connection with a neighbor. Introduce yourself. Ask if they live in the neighborhood and where? How long? What brought them to your neighborhood? Try to make a connection and an excuse to connect with them in the future, so you can further the relationship (i.e. “Sound like you know a lot about computers. I’ll have to keep that in mind next time my computer acts up!”) Always look for that next point of connection.

There is a story of a Christian who asked his new, non-believing neighbor if he could borrow a shovel. The non-believing neighbor gladly obliged. This interaction was the first of many the Christian neighbor initiated. Later, after the non-believing neighbor came to Christ via the Christian sharing the gospel, the new believer realized something—the Christian neighbor already owned a shovel.

Always look for a point of connection.

More soon. Take care...
Pastor Ben

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