Halloween is coming. The last two weeks of October are now dominated by the festival, with trick or treaters aplenty and supermarkets populated with skeletons and pumpkins – but how should our children’s ministry engage with the festivities? We asked some of our trusty contributors for their ideas:
Make your own scratch art
You will need: card or paper, wax crayons, black paint, washing up liquid
This is a great way to help children think about light and life overcoming darkness. Give children small pieces of card or paper (small is best as it takes effort to cover the whole area). Get them to cover the whole of the card with wax crayon patterns. Don’t leave any space that is not covered in wax.
Then paint over the wax with black paint that has been mixed with a little drop of washing up liquid. Let the paint dry and then you can start to scratch off the paint with a stick, making patterns and pictures so that the colours underneath show through.
Use this to think about light shining in the darkness and the darkness not being able to overcome it. Even though darkness and bad things seem to get in the way, God is more powerful than they are. Like the colour that comes through the scratch art, we always have hope of new life, the goodness of God’s gifts for us and the colour of his kingdom.
Mina Munns is the founder of Flame: creative children’s ministry
Walk of heroes
You will need: Lanters, torches, pictures of saints or heroes and leaders, sparklers or glo-sticks
Rather than focus on Halloween, we prefer to focus on All Saints Day. This gives you a chance to talk about the origins of Halloween (All Hallows Eve, just as Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas). So at our party we have the Walk of heroes where we share some of the stories of the saints and heroes in Christian history.
For this we set up a path around the outside of the church. It is dark, but the path itself is lit by candles, lanterns etc. We also give the kids torches so no one is frightened of being in the dark. As you go around the path, you see different pictures of the favourite saint or hero of a leader and the leader talks briefly about that person. We try to space them out throughout history: we’ll have someone from the Bible (eg Peter or Elijah), someone from church history (eg Patrick or Francis of Assisi) and someone more contemporary (eg Martin Luther King Jr or Amy Carmichael). We place a giant mirror at the end and ask who else is on this path (hopefully they’ll say ‘Me!’ or ‘Us!’). We round off by saying that we can be part of this incredible story of Saints and Heroes, part of the story of the church. It is All Saints Day after all! And to end we say that All Saints Day is a day of light and celebration so give the children sparklers and glo-sticks to help light up the darkness.
Steve Mawhinney is the children’s worker for Barnsbury Parish, Islington
Still looking for some more ideas? Here’s a selection of what else is out there:
Friends and Heroes
The team behind popular cartoon series Friends and Heroes has produced a party pack for children’s ministries to use at the end of October. The ‘Bright Sparks’ party pack includes games, crafts, quizzes, costume ideas, posters and flyers. The event includes characters from Friends and Heroes with a ‘light’ theme. For more information go to friendsandheroes.com/uk/party-packs
Scripture Union has created an online guide for parents and children’s workers, to help us talk to children about Halloween. The page looks at the history of the festival, relevant Bible passages and some counter-cultural ideas. Have a read at scriptureunion.org.uk/Families/Parents/Talkingabout/Halloween
They have also produced a Light Party pack which is available to order for free at scriptureunion.org.uk
Premier Childrenswork contributor Andy Robb has written a short comic entitled Professor Bumblebrain’s Absolutely Bonkers Halloween, aimed at 7-11-years olds. The book contains a message of light, and discusses how Halloween started. Packs of ten are available from www.cwr.org.uk