For the last five years on Halloween, Harris Creek has hosted the “Fall Family Festival” in our parking lot and asked Life Groups to participate in our “Trunk-or-Treat” for this event. When this event first began, the mentality behind it was to attract people who are unchurched, and hopefully start meaningful relationships. While Fall Family Festival was successful, in the sense that it was serving as a time of fellowship for our existing members and regular attendees, it was not meeting its original purpose. As we have evaluated the success of this event based on that criteria, we believe it is time to try something different. This year, we are asking Life Groups to participate in a new event called “Fall Out.”
We just finished a five-week series called “On the Margins,” and in the last message, we closed by talking about a pattern that runs throughout Scripture. I said if we are going to seek the welfare of the city and live for those on the margins, then we must be committed to outward movement. This means we are going to have to strategically plan ways for us to get out of our comfortable building and go out into the community with the purpose of engaging the people of Waco with the Good News. This is a pattern the author of Hebrews talks about in the closing remarks of the letter by saying,
“Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:11–14 NLT
With this goal in mind, we are asking you to go out into your neighborhoods with the intention of engaging the people you live around. We live in a day and time when hanging out on the front porch has been replaced by hanging out in our fenced-in backyards. The reality is, most simply, people don’t engage the people who live in the same neighborhood. However, Halloween is the one night a year in our culture when people will actually come to our front door unsolicited. We want to be available and ready when they come. We would encourage you to pick a house in a strategic neighborhood, choose a theme, create some games that will engage kids of all ages, and be ready to build relationships if the opportunity presents itself. We’ve put together a guide that you can download here to help your Life Group brainstorm for this event.
We also want to encourage the social aspect of this by having Life Groups partner with one another, so we can build community across our church body, as well. We would really love it if college Life Groups would partner with adult Life Groups for “Fall Out.” Contact our college associates (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help arranging this. We also want to encourage you to take photos and email them to our worship and arts director, Rebecca Harris (email@example.com) so we can post them to Facebook and our website.
The last thing I want to say is that this decision is in no way an indictment on those churches that do hold a “Fall Festival” type of event. Many churches do this to provide a safe environment for kids to trick-or-treat in, and we know that is valid. If your family is in a place or stage where you need this type of environment on Halloween, we want to encourage you to support other churches in town and attend their events. However, we feel that our Sunwest Campus does not need a safe environment because it is already a safe neighborhood, and our Downtown Campus really doesn’t have much residential property in the immediate vicinity for us to justify doing a “trunk-or-treat” downtown. Our hope is that “Fall Out” will help people in our congregation begin to build strategic relationships with people in the community. I am praying this month that the Spirit will already begin to soften hearts, open doors, and go before us in this endeavor as we continue to seek the welfare of the city.
 I like to call the college/adult anomaly at Harris Creek “the zoo.” Why? Because adults love that college students come to Harris Creek and college students love that adults call Harris Creek home, but there is rarely any interaction between the two groups. So, often times, students simply stare at the families and the families stare right back at the students, much like a zoo. As for who are the animals in this analogy, I’ll let you guess.