Maybe an event like this is something you could think about incorporating into your own evangelistic strategy at your church? The light that shines in the darkness is definitely worth celebrating!
Valencia is a party city and barely a week goes by without some sort of celebration taking place. So, it’s no surprise that Halloween has become another reason to party. With each successive year, on 31st October more and more people fill the streets, once night falls, dressed in scary costumes and eagerly carrying buckets they hope to fill with sweets.
‘Trick or Treat’ doesn’t quite work in a city full of apartment buildings, but that doesn’t appear to dampen the party sprit.
At our small church in the city we didn’t want to celebrate the darkness that Halloween implies and we wanted to show our neighbours and friends that Christians have even more reason to party than those who don’t follow Christ.
Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). That is something worth celebrating! His light stands in opposition to all that Halloween stands for and so we decided to hold a ‘Light Party’ as an alternative to the ‘traditional’ Halloween celebrations.
We planned an event that would include craft activities, games, food and sweets. Lots of sweets. And we also wanted to include a gently evangelistic talk that might encourage people to further consider the claims of Jesus.
A small team organised all the practical details and then we approached the church family for help, asking them to commit to being there for the event and to help run one its elements. Although the idea of a ‘Light Party’ was new for many, our church family quickly began to own the idea and to get excited about offering a more wholesome alternative to Halloween and on the night of the party around half of the church family was involved.
We produced flyers and a digital invitation to make the event known. As with any evangelistic event, a personal invitation is always the best option but as there are so many people in our part of the city with whom we have no direct contact we also thought a few carefully placed posters could be useful.
The day of the event arrived and we spent hours decorating the church, festooning it with fairy lights and candles and balloons with flashing LEDs inside. We had also asked the church family to bring in any light emitting objects they had at home. The end result was a warm and inviting refuge from the darkness of an Autumnal evening.
The event was planned to last from 6pm to 7:15pm and as 6 o’clock approached we had very little idea about who would attend and whether there would be enough people to generate the party atmosphere. Gradually the people arrived and the space began to fill up.
Some of the guests were neighbours of the church, some were the result of personal invitations and others of blanket invitations via WhatsApp or Facebook. Some came because of school links and some came from another church in the city with links to our Youth Group. Some families were there having been invited because their children come to a weekly English Club that we run. We had around fifty guests in total.
The activities were relatively simple: cake decorating, light-themed colouring sheets, making lanterns (using plastic cups, tissue paper and a LED candle) and non-scary face-painting. The food was simple too: cheese, ham or Nutella sandwiches, popcorn, biscuits and sweets. Lots of sweets. There were also hot drinks on offer to all the adults. The games again were simple: all were light-based and we used over 300 glo-sticks.
We played ten-pin bowling (the pins were plastic bottles filled with water, each containing a handful of glo-sticks), hunt the glo-sticks and a couple of relay games using balloons containing… you guessed it: glo-sticks! We also provided a small multi-sensory space filled with all sorts of light emitting toys for the babys and small toddlers who came.
After the first thirty minutes we gathered everyone for a couple of team games which involved everyone. The idea was that with everyone altogether already it would be an easy transition to present our simple gospel message. This involved a welcome from the Pastor, a brief sketch involving someone who had decided to live without light, and then a brief assertion of John 8:12 with an invitation to find out more at our Sunday service. We then carried on with all the activities until the end of the party.
You may have noticed the repetition of the word ‘simple’ in the above. We deliberately wanted to run something that was uncomplicated yet effective and we feel we achieved that.
The Lord was gracious and brought along a good number of people. Maybe an event like this is something you could think about incorporating into your own evangelistic strategy at your church? The light that shines in the darkness is definitely worth celebrating!
Julian Milson, Pastor at the Anglican Church of Valencia, in Spain.