Categories: Family, Holiday



So much life happens on the streets of China.

Breakfast stands pop up.

Fruit and veggies to be sold.

Poop (some might say a little too much life).

Dancing, badminton, car washes.

Life, life, life! Let’s #TakeBackTheStreets


Without garages to pull into and the high value of private space, life is engaged to a degree that is different than life in the West.

People, we have an opportunity next Monday night to get out there and mingle with our neighbors. One of my very first blog posts encourage people to “Take back the streets.” In part I said:

I have mixed feeling about the “Fall Festivals” that have become the norm at many churches and other places of gathering. Part of me applauds the church looking for ways to be a haven and being willing to open their doors instead of close them. But another part is kind of turned off by the withdrawal and segregation. It’s the ONE night a year in America where we are socially sanctioned to wander around our neighborhoods, knock on each other’s doors and greet one another. The ONE night. And what have we done, we have said safety is more important than engagement (I told you, you might not agree).


The main push back I have gotten is over the origin of Halloween. I really never intended to take a massive stand on Halloween. The truth is I care about relationships and finding connecting points. I don’t know much about the origins of Halloween and, frankly, it doesn’t really interest me because I believe nothing, absolutely nothing is beyond the hope of redemption.

Do bad things happen on Halloween? Sure. Do bad things happen other night of the year and in the name of evil. Absolutely (and tragically so). Do I ABHOR the evil perpetrated against children or cats? Big fat yes.

But as one who bears the Image of God, I also bear the image of fun and creativity and playfulness. Of connection and joy and giggles. Of memory building and traditions. Do I delight that God made us in His image? Bigger, Fatter Y-E-S.

Now, can you just tun off your lights and not engage on Monday night and still be an Image Bearer? Of course. And that’s fine!

However, if you’re looking for some creative ideas for Monday, here are a few I’ve heard:

1. A group of teachers in China live in a building shared with graduate students. They hung up a sign explaining about Trick-or-Treating and asked students who would be willing for foreign children to Trick-or-Treat to hang up one of the provided pumpkins.

2. A family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hands out hot dogs to those passing by their house. A few years ago they wrote to a record label and and pitched the idea of Christmas Music CD’s being handed out with hot dogs. The record label LOVED the idea and sent 100 of David Crowder’s CD. My friends are not all that taken with Halloween, but they are taken with their neighbors and with Christmas. I only wish I lived closer because who doesn’t love a hot dog on a cold night?!

3. A church in Denver held their Fall Festival on Saturday night to free up their congregation on Halloween.

4. My sister and her family have started leaving a bowl of candy on their front porch so no one has to stay home. We get to wander their neighborhood as a family connecting with neighbors and fellow Trick-or-Treaters. (For the third year in a row, we have a themed costume. Only four of us can go, so we are going to be the four seasons. I’ll be summer, you know, cause I’m hot. HAHAHA. That is not why I’m summer!)

Engagement can come in many forms, be creative. Find one that works for you, your stage of life, your family and your personality.

I’d love to hear more ideas of ways you have found to engage and connect with folks. Anyone else planning a costume this year? Use #TakeBackTheStreets on Facebook or Instagram and let’s see the light and fun and JOY you can bring to your neck of the woods.

Leave A Comment

  1. Suzanne Oliver October 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    [I went back to look for an emoji and lost the page. Oh, well. I love this page, but I’m not going to write my comments again, mostly because I can’t remember all I said ;-)]

    • Avatar photo
      Amy November 1, 2016 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      I hate it when that happens to me! Thank you for still posting a little something :)!

  2. Jenilee October 27, 2016 at 1:46 am - Reply

    I had a hard time with Halloween when our girls were little. I didn’t grow up with it at all as a part of our fall. One of the biggest reasons was as much as we wanted it to be an innocent time to dress up and meet the neighbors, you still had to walk the kids through witches and goblins and skeletons hanging from the trees and caldrons and fake cemeteries and kids with bloody faces and so on… it still can be pretty “Dark” out there. So for our girls, we always tried to engage somehow – we brought our firepit out into the drive way and had lots of s’mores for anyone who wanted to make one or a game in the yard or something to meet our neighbors. But when the girls were little, this was tough and scary for them! Now that they are older, it would be a lot different… which we will face next fall :)

    We also were kids pastors in the states and had “alternative” events at both churches. We always tried to run them a week or two before Halloween, more as a fall festival – costumes not necessary. That way, families could engage with their neighborhoods as they felt best during their scheduled trick or treating. We always encouraged them to get out meet their neighbors! Grilling hot dogs or talking to kids or meeting parents and so on…

    I used to have a semi-viral post on the blog about my stance against Halloween and why… every fall it has been shared and passed around and argued. I was done with that. Too much arguing online! So, I pulled it down. I’ve found less is more here… if that makes sense. I can see both sides – getting involved and not – I see Biblical reasons for positive, purposeful engagement and not. Rather than a stance on Halloween, which I believe can wholeheartedly be redeemed for God’s purposes! I now just try to guide the girls past darkness and death – its everywhere in books, movies, music – and live out being children of the light. We should be light and life everywhere, every day. IF any of that makes sense :) you will be an AWESOME summer by the way.

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      Amy November 1, 2016 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Jenilee, it does make sense! AND, it was fun to be summer in fall. HAHAH :)

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