What’s in your trunk?

It was not all that long ago when children could trick-or-treat in their local neighborhood without parental supervision; when there was no worry of a door-knocking child’s plunder being laced with drugs or poison; when distributing homemade treats at Halloween was acceptable.  But that was then.

My research to identify the origin of the newer “trunk-or-treat” option was unsuccessful, except to see that many sources credit – or blame – the Christian church for this phenomenon.  Dissenters claim that the church is trying to de-goblin and Christianize the holiday, creating an opportunity to preach religion to the children.

One blogger called the church “misinformed Christians” and then declared, “these well-meaning zealots are a lot more terrifying than what any kid would encounter on Halloween.”  Another source understands the alternative as “some sanctioned, artificial world where teaching kids to get candy from people in cars is viewed as beneficial. Dunderheads.”

There may indeed be some so-called fanatics who have a hidden agenda lurking inside their trunks.  And unapologetically, it is likely that a church-sponsored trunk-or-treat event will hope to include printed information about that church, or a brief verbal witness for Christ.  After all, it is Jesus himself who commanded his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

In my mind, however, it is first of all a safe alternative for children and families to guard against the potential dangers that did not seem to threaten communities 50 years ago.  Some families find that mall stores provide for trick-or-treaters at their places of business.  Should we considered them to be money grubbers, or could they be saying “thanks” to their consumers by offering a way for children to trick-or-treat in a safe environment?

Further, as a local church pastor, I see it as a way for the church to give back to the community.  We desire to be a recognized and trusted presence among our neighbors; a church who not only is a beacon of the Good News, but who also caringly serves the needs of others.  We want to be a friend to those around us.

For a vast majority of people, Halloween is a harmless and fun holiday for our children and their families.  The very small percentage of our population who choose to make it an evening of dangerous pranks and malicious, destructive stunts has created the apparent need for safer alternatives; protected environments.  So, let’s support our local churches and businesses who strive to provide a night families can enjoy.

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