The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, October 19, 2004

In This Issue

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Featured Article: To Halloween or Not To Halloween? That is the Question!

by Jonathan McKee
October 19, 2004

Halloween's coming. And the questions and emails are already coming: "Is it okay to celebrate it?" "But it's Satan's Holiday!" "How should the church react?"

I am asking a different question: "Can we use it?"

Kid's are looking for something to do for the Holiday, and that opens up a door for ministry. How can we use this opportunity to plan something fun? That's basically what Lynette from South Carolina is asking me in her email below:

Hey Jonathan,

I need some help and ideas. Every October our church doesn't do the Halloween thing so we just pick different themes and have like a fall festival. Every year it gets a little bit-you know-BORING!!

Ages range from 1 yr-25yrs+adults. I am the youth leader at our church but I primarily work with the teens and young adults. They come every year, but I can tell it is boring to them. I would like to plan something that they can have a ball at and at the same time reach the (unchurched) friends that they will want to bring because it is going to be a blast!! Do you understand where I am coming from? Can you please help?

Lynette, South Carolina

Great question Lynette ... you're not alone. It's pretty hard when five minutes into our "Fall Festival," 4 year olds are already starting to say, "I'm tired of throwing bean bags through the clown's mouth!" And teenagers are already starting to disappear and make-out behind the haystacks. Sometimes we wonder if we're really programming it right.

Basically, is there something fun we can plan on Halloween that would be a good outreach, but not compromise our beliefs?

This is always a tough one for churches because you're dealing with several issues. First, Halloween is very offensive to many in the church, but it's not even slightly offensive to the world. So Halloween is one of those areas where Christians very often can appear condescending to the community.

Furthermore, when a church does decide to do a Halloween outreach of some sort-usually called a "Harvest Fair," "Fall Festival," or something like that-they have to deal with typical stuff that the unchurched do. For example- what do you do with all the little neighborhood kids that come dressed as ghosts, witches or even as Harry Potter? Some churches freak out over this. So do you put up a sign that says no witches? (I don't think so ... and I don't think they should freak out either ... but these are the issues that happen today.)

So Halloween is a tough one.

The biggest question we need to ask is "what is our goal?"

Is our goal to do an effective outreach that reaches the community? If it is- then we might need to be open to accepting some of the "lost" in all their "lostness." (is that a word?) Churches need to remind themselves of how Jesus reacted to the lost. We never saw him trying to correct Zacchaeus before dinner. We never saw him condemning Mary Magdalene for her "hoochie" outfit. He loved them for who they were ... but loved them too much to let them stay that way.

So what are a church's options for these events? Our options really depend on multiple factors, the first being age group. Is this something for little kids through adults like Lynette's example? Or are we youth workers who have the freedom to just plan a teen party?

If you have to plan the event for all ages, one way to make it fun is by involving as many teens and adults in a serving role. Have teens help in the planning process. "What would be fun activities for little kids?" "How can we help them have a fun time?" This is a great opportunity to let students get their hands dirty in a role of service.

This is also a great opportunity to give the entire congregation opportunities to get involved. One idea is the "pulltag" board. Decorate a huge wall and cover it with "pulltags." Each pull tag is an item for them to donate or bring with them to church the following week. Pull tags can be as simple as "a bag of candy." Or they can be as much as "$200 for a jump castle rental."

You can use "pulltags" as ways to get volunteers as well. Have pulltags for "hayride tractor driver," "face-painter," "burger flipper" ... you name it.

Our church didn't have a building for 10 years ... we rented a school. We didn't have a facility so we rented a local racetrack and did an event called TRUNK OR TREAT. (That's a creative way to incorporate an innocent practice from Halloween, trick or treating ... and not have to use the Halloween name). At this event, church members pulled into the track and parked their cars with their trunk facing outward. We had hundreds of cars show up (it's a big church). Each car decorated their trunk. Some elaborate, some with just a fake spider web and a bucket of candy. Then the kids went around the track and trick-or-treated.

In the middle of the track they had a bunch of carnival like activities. Yes- this is a budget item. But our church really values these kind of free outreach events that serve the community ... no strings attached.

If you want to plan a teen party- there are a ton of good options. Ideas range from small parties at the church to creative events with scary themes. One of the most creative events I witnessed was a church I spoke at in Texas that did a ... different kind of hayride. Every year they pulled out an insane number of kids to an event called the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre Ride." This church hooked up a huge flatbed trailer to a big John Deer tractor. The flatbed had haystacks safely stacked on the trailer, with blankets and side rails for safety. The tractor would shut off all the lights and take the kids through a pitch black cornfield. There they would be scared out of their wits by various sound affects ... one being a chainsaw and a womans scream. No one sees a thing-all affects are strictly sound affects. (which makes the ride completely safe ... to anyone without heart conditions!) I've never seen such a scared group. The rides go on throughout the evening while the rest of the group has a party in a huge barn.

If you don't like horror themes, our Last EZINE (CLICK HERE) talked about a great option for a movie party. You can also jump on our web site, click on our ARTICLE ARCHIVE page and scroll down to some of our past EZINES around October. I usually email out some October "Halloween" ideas and games, etc. In 2002 I sent several ideas including some crazy game ideas, discussion starter links, and a complete "Halloween talk" with a Gospel presentation (CLICK HERE).

So regardless of your opinion of this upcoming holiday, I hope you can use it as a door for ministry. God's love can shine in the most bizarre places.

Jonathan McKee is president of and author of the

Hayden Panettiere Interview: A Glimpse into Today's Culture

Hayden Panettiere Hayden isn't your typical teen actress. 15 year old Hayden has been stealing the show for years now with films such as Joe Somebody, Remember the Titans and Raising Helen. And she hasn't emerged from the typical Disney channel route like many other young popular actresses of today have. She has earned her spot in Hollywood with strong performances portraying serious roles alongside Oscar winning actors and actresses.

Hayden also gives us a pretty accurate peek at today's "unchurched" generation. Hayden is a sweet girl. She isn't trashy, she's not an alcoholic, and she hasn't disappointed parents in today's world, a place almost completely void of positive role models. But Hayden doesn't go to church or even feel the need to go to church. Hayden is a "moral girl" who feels like she can pray on her own or "be spiritual" on her own. "I don't need a church to do that."

So take a peek at the life of this young actress from my 20 minute conversation with her. Find out her 2 cents about the pressure to be "the bad girl" or "dress like Brittany" on and off camera. And find out her view of God and the church. It might just be the same view as the kid down the street from you.

Here's a piece of my interview with her last week:

JONATHAN: Some other actresses and musicians have shown up on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing very little or at movie premiers with dresses that 'shock.' Some are highly critical of this kind of thing, others defend it. I would think that there's a line that exists somewhere of 'what you do and don't do.' Where do you draw that line?

HAYDEN: I think everyone has the freedom to wear what they want and do what they want to do. But I think they should consider what everyone else will think. Rolling Stone can be a "sexy magazine." Personally, I wouldn't do anything like that. I do draw the line at certain things like, 'that skirts getting a little too short' or 'that top's getting a little too tiny ...'


HAYDEN: ... and the clothes get less and less and when you wear certain things ... I don't want to judge anyone-they can wear what they want to wear-but I'm going to wear more conservative clothes or something a little more classy.

JONATHAN: I guess the bottom line is this: As you get, older, more popular and get even more roles, and if you know that your poster is going to be on the walls of little 8 year old girls across the country ... would that make you think? Is there a responsibility that comes with this? Are you now a mentor?

HAYDEN: Personally, I think so. But for me- dressing raunchy is just not who I am. I am a little scared to say that's not who I am, because I definitely have a rebellious side along with my more conservative side, but I would never show that through the way I dress. I can be rebellious through other ways than 'wearing less clothes.' It doesn't prove that I'm more rebellious just because I wear less clothes and feel the need to walk around like that.

JONATHAN: What do you want to be known for?

HAYDEN: I'd like to be known as classy.

JONATHAN: What do you NOT want to be known for?

HAYDEN: I don't want to be known as a party animal, or dressing trashy or ...

JONATHAN: You want to be remembered for your talents and abilities rather than, "Hey, she's the one that got caught on video doing ... whatever!"

HAYDEN: Absolutely.


Register Now for Jonathan's "Reaching Out To Unchurched Teenagers" Training in Milwaukee, WI this November!

On November 13th, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for student leaders and youth workers in the greater Milwaukee and Chicago area. If you're a youth worker (volunteer or paid) or if you have staff or student leaders that want to reach out to the "unchurched," this is the place for you!

Here's the details:

    Saturday November 13th, 9AM to 3PM

    Two choices:
      $20 after November 5th or at the door (includes lunch)

      ONLY $10 if you pre-register by November 5th (includes lunch)


Next EZINE Issue: Free "2005 Outreach Resource CD" with the Pre-purchase of Jonathan's New Book

We keep getting bombarded with emails asking when Jonathan's new book is available. Ask no longer! Next EZINE, we're kicking off the pre-sale of his new book, arriving the first week of December.

Now, we know that you can go down to your neighborhood Christian book store in December and buy this book. But why not just buy it from the people who give you everything else for free? Besides ... we're throwing something in, just to say "Thanks!"

Every once in a while we like to put some new resources and ideas on a special CD to offer to our EZINE subscribers. And you know how we love to give things away ... so we'll be giving away this CD for free to the first 2,000 youth workers who buy Jonathan's new book when it's released this December. That's our way of saying "Thanks" for buying it from us.

This CD will contain:
  • The prototype of EVENTMAKER, a great new event-planning tool that does the planning for you.

  • 52 of the best "Out of the Box" Outreach Event Ideas you can use in your own ministry-a year supply, if you're really ambitious!

  • The "Reaching Out to the Unchurched" Power Point Training mini-seminar that corresponds with a chapter right out of Jonathan's new book, enabling you to teach the material to your student and adult leaders.
Again- this CD will be given away completely free to the first 2,000 who pre-purchase Jonathan's new book. Click below to find out more about this great book and sign up your email address on the pre-sale email list. Everyone on this email list will be the first ones notified about the presale of this book.


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