The effects of the mega-church on Halloween tradition


We live in a sub-division of relatively nice homes (for our area), where most of the neighbors know one another and interact on a regular basis. Several young children live in our neighborhood, and due to the fact that many of our residents are older and have grandchildren, our community normally has quite a few trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

When we gave out candy a couple of years ago, we had around twenty kids show up. We were all excited about it this year and decided to go to our elderly neighbor’s home, knowing that she would get a kick out of seeing the children in their costumes. We even invited our friend, Kelly, over to enjoy the festivities.

We had less than 10 trick-or-treaters. It was quite depressing.

As we wondered aloud about why the turnout was so small, we figured it couldn’t be the weather (which was fantastic). We finally decided that it must the fault of all the mega-churches that hold alternative Halloween gatherings for kids.

While these churches draw in large crowds with their promises of copious amounts of candy, fun games, and a safe environment, we all know that they have an ulterior motive – getting the parents into their congregations. It’s really a cheap form of advertising.

Those of us who attend smaller churches (and like it that way) only get the leftovers. Not that leftovers are bad (think day-old spaghetti), but it definitely hampers one’s holiday spirit to only have a handful of ghosts and goblins when you’d normally be worrying about running out of candy.

Which got me thinking… perhaps the mega-church is bad for society. The side effect of their promotional events is that small neighborhoods lose some of their interaction, which actually undermines the community.

And little, elderly, housebound women have to be disappointed on Halloween.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

24 thoughts on “The effects of the mega-church on Halloween tradition”

  1. Whilst I am not an observer of Halloween I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. These “mega-churches” are driven by greed and are likened to corporate business squeezing out the local, independent, smaller businesses.

  2. J and I discussed this same thing last night. I understand the churches wanting to have their own celebration, but must it always be on Halloween night? Our chruch generally has a fall festival sometime in October. We have lots of kids, and often bring in new ones. I think if they changed it to Halloween night, we wouldn’t participate. We enjoy going door to door, however I only take them to places where I know the people.

  3. I agree. Let kids be kids, for once! Loved the analogy to day old spaghetti…

    It was really sweet of you to involve your neighbor…I bet she loved it.

  4. @ thelaymansjournal: Agreed.

    @ Alyson: That’s a good idea, but I doubt many of them would do it.

    @ Caroline: She did. Honey also cooked a delicious dinner for all of us.

    @ observantbystander: You should have seen the image results I got for “megachurch” on Google. Some of them appear to have acres and acres of parking lots. I’d hate to try to find my car after a service.

  5. It’s a shame you don’t live near the border of Mexico, so you could have the vanloads of children driven over to your neighborhood in well-organized groups to invade like thousands of starving birds. Now THAT’S a scary Halloween. (We went out to avoid it all.) But I know you didn’t want that, you just wanted some not-so-spooky fun with a few pirates and princesses, maybe some ghosts etc. It’s too bad what’s happening, feast or famine. Do you think that trick-or-treating will some day be a thing of the past? I hope not, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
    I LOVE the photo by the way. LOL.

  6. This is kind of off the subject, but that photo really IS great! It looks like Mary Ann from “Gilligan’s Island” and Buster Keaton. I’d love to know where it’s from.

    Halloween is becoming really depressing. They don’t even celebrate it on October 31st here. It was held on October 30th. I hope a bunch of ghouls haunt the people who made that decision.

  7. i am considerd a child myself even thow i am 17 im not allowed to go out on my own. i would not go to a ‘mega church’ because i do not have a religion so i really do not see the point, it might be fun to have your kids in a safe controlled enviroment but the whole point of trick or treating is to get out in the world xx

  8. @ Wendy: You could’ve just stayed home and closed the blinds and turned off the lights. ;)

    @ MBMQ: I don’t know what the photo is, but I found it on Google by typing in “megachurch”. I changed the text in the balloon and added the trick-or-treat bag. It just struck me funny!

    @ vampretta: I also think that’s the point. People are too afraid of one another these days.

  9. @ MBMQ – You’ve got to be right about it being Keaton and Mary Ann. Either they appeared in something really bizarre or it’s the work of a master PhotoShopper. The body doesn’t really look as petite as Mary Ann’s, and I’m not sure Keaton was still around when she was in her prime.

  10. I know it’s a little off topic but to follow up on Wendys’ comment … This halloween we had over 80 kids at our house and we live in a neighborhood with only about 10 children. There were serveral vans and cars that came to our neighborhood dropping off children, shadowing them down the street then spririting them off to ???. My initial reaction to this is anger – being turned off by this “busing in of kids”. The other side of me feels sorry for children who may live in a neighborhood that may not be so nice, safe or condusive to a traditional halloween.
    I think the reality of today is that most parents only allow their children to go to homes of people they know and supervise them like hawks. The days of running thru the neighborhoods like a pack of bumbling ghosts with “the gang” while our parents congregated at someones house are gone I’m afraid. Peace.

    btw. really like your blog

  11. @ Daphne – It’s so true, on one hand you feel bad … but on the other you feel like, “Hey! I can’t afford to spend $100 on candy!” Or on groceries, for that matter.

  12. Okay, not that I became obsessed with this or anything, but that IS Bust Keaton, from the 1965 movie “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.” I don’t know who the woman is (it’s not Mary Ann), but at least I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

  13. Has anyone ever thought about praising these Mega churches for having the carnivals for our children so that at least they’re safe and having fun and not out on the streets? For me as a Christian, this title means that I don’t complain, backbite and talk about all the things I think are going wrong around me, especially if I’m offended. I get in there ad help out. So maybe next Halloween we could all go down and volunteer at our neighborhood Mega church carnival instead of sitting home and feeling sorry for ourselves! Besides, aren’t we all suppose to be working together?

  14. @ Wendy & MBMQ: You gals crack me up trying to figure out who’s in the picture.

    @ Tonya: I think you missed the point. Why should we surrender our traditions to the mega-church? And why should we go to a church that we don’t even attend, in order to help them advertise and draw in new members?

  15. Thank you. You are welcome at my blog too. I was thinking about “gay rights” and your blog post on Ron Paul and the comments that follow that post. Have you officially decided to support his campaign? I think it’s a great concept to not assign rights to a labeled group, but rather recognize that each individual has rights. So, I’m thinking that must mean I’m not a liberal like I used to think I was. And also, Dr. Paul was an obgyn, he’s pro-life, so that’s another way that I agree with what he represents rather than with the liberal “it’s a woman’s body” policy makers. I felt like your post and those comments were very insightful and have helped me become better informed. Thank you!

  16. Brian,

    Thanks for the post. You hit the nail on the head when you said, “While these churches draw in large crowds with their promises of copious amounts of candy, fun games, and a safe environment, we all know that they have an ulterior motive – getting the parents into their congregations.”

    There are a few churches who serve the community by providing a safe place for kids to have fun, with no goal of serving themselves. Unfortunately, they are “few and far between”. I wish more would focus on simply meeting needs with “no strings attached.”


  17. @ fightingwindmills: I did decide to support RP’s bid for the White House, at least on this blog. I am registered as a Democrat and considered changing my registration so that I could vote for him in the primary, but I probably won’t. I want to be able to have my say in deciding who the Democratic nominee will be, and I honestly don’t think RP will get the Republican nomination. He doesn’t really represent what that party has become.

    I don’t agree with everything Dr. Paul says or believes in, but I do like his stance on the Constitution and personal freedom. I’m glad that you found this site helpful in your search for more information about him. :)

    @ Jim: I wish so, too.

  18. When my daughter was about seven, we lived in these campus apartments. The local mega-church (which everyone called “Six Flags Over Jesus”) sent some blue-haired old ladies over to run an after-school religious program. They’d wander around the grounds, enticing little kids to enroll in the program by telling them that if they did, they could win a bike (which was true– they held a drawing of some sort). I remember my daughter, even at her young age, becoming angry about this. She refused to join, and told the women, “That’s not very nice, bribing little kids like that.”

  19. I think this must be the kind of thing that makes federally funded “faith based initiatives” so debate-worthy. That’s why I agree with Dr. Paul that, “The truth is that secular humanists have forced their beliefs upon a largely religious nation. In schools, in government, and in the courts, secular values dominate. Secularism, wrongly characterized as neutral toward religious faith, has become the default philosophy for our society.” If you can’t impose religion on a federal level, you also can’t impose a replacement set of moral values, which I didn’t even realize I was mistakenly advocating up until a few weeks ago. It’s really hard for me to recognize when I do that.

    Brian, I also have to decide in which primary to vote, as I can only vote in one of them. I don’t know what to do.

    I was on an atheist’s blog the other day reading a post titled something like “The atheists should put together a gift basket”. It was making me laugh, in a sad way. Now I want to find a paper I wrote in high school about how religious missionaries often misunderstand the importance of their mission (is it clean water, or is it salvation of someone’s soul?)

    Our local mega-church does their Halloween celebration on the Saturday before Halloween, so it doesn’t interfere. All the local church Halloween celebrations are on the weekend before, so I didn’t even realize there were churches holding parties on the very same night as the secular trick-or-treating. I wonder if I would be “activist” enough to say anything, like write a letter to the event organizer, if I felt the way you felt, Brian. I might just ask them if they would consider changing the date so that it wouldn’t be on the same night. But maybe the whole point was that they wanted it to be on the same night. *sigh*

  20. MBMQ: “Six Flags Over Jesus”–that is hilarious! And it is awesome that your daughter could see through their scheme at age seven.

    And yes, many of these churches do make a point of doing their events on the same night as an alternative to the traditional trick-or-treating. Many would never consider doing their event on a different date, it is very intentional on their part.


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