“I realized that there is only one night of the year that dozens of kids who need Jesus, along with their parents, come to the door of my house in a friendly mood and willing to chat.”
What better perspective for a Christian to take during the week of Halloween? Tim Hodge, the lead pastor of Grace Family Church in New Holland, Pa., shared this while helping organize his church’s ministry to trick-or-treaters in their community. While he is not an advocate for what Halloween represents, Pastor Hodge can’t help but notice– and feel encouraged by– the community feel of the evening and the investment parents make to their kids during trick-or-treating.
How can the church not join in on opportunities like this? Last year, the Grace Family congregation decided to try an experiment. They set up hot chocolate stations on the front lawns of several church members throughout the community…and what is more inviting on a cool October evening then a steaming cup of hot chocolate? These stations were well received, of course, and this was the green light Pastor Hodge and his church family needed to make a reappearance this year…with some adjustments, of course.
In 2014, there were four hot chocolate stations. In 2015, the church has added a few more, and constructed bright and distinct wooden booths. The surface of these booths sport the church’s logo and website. Members of Grace’s student ministry have volunteered to man the stations, with the objective of making the most of this great opportunity for conversation. One stand specifically will be set up at the ‘trunk or treat’, organized through a local ministry that runs the town’s youth center. Hot chocolate remains the main staple, but a few families choose to provide bowls of candy as well. Sugar is the main theme, after all!
What makes these hot chocolate stations the church’s new avenue of ministering is that it only involves giving, be it a cup of hot chocolate, a five-minute exchange, or an on-the-spot prayer request. Rather than going about the norm of asking the community for donations or fundraiser support, it becomes about showing the loving nature of God, and surprising people when they realize there’s no catch.
While still in its birth of becoming a tradition, many people from Grace Family Church see the opportunity to be a blessing to the community for many years to come, serving down the roads and side-streets and cul-de-sacs of their town. Pastor Hodge and the members of the church he serves, both young and old, are truly taking initiative with their chocolaty endeavor. Rather than wait for a blessing to come to them, they are creating one for a variety of families in the community.
As Pastor Hodge states, “…the opportunity to intentionally interact with our community is well worth pursuing.” He plans to continue to monitor these pursuits, watching for ways to either grow or improve this often untapped path of community connections and outreach. — By Haley Bradfield
[Connect:] Send a note of encouragement to Pastor Tim Hodge at email@example.com.
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.