FULTON, Ky. (BP) – It’s a rule any seasoned trick-or-treater knows: Go for the big bars.
First Baptist Church took that desire for non-miniature candies and paired it with nearly 400 Gospel presentations over two-and-a-half hours. The number of hearers was significantly more when adding accompanying parents, grandparents and older siblings.
“It happened so fast and groups would show up in waves,” said Stephen Cavness, pastor. “You would look up and there would be more standing in line. It’s pretty amazing that people would do that for a few minutes at the chance for a full-sized candy bar.”
First Baptist has had community events on Halloween before. Before last year’s though, Cavness decided it needed to set itself apart a little more from others not at a church. First Baptist’s location near a popular area for trick-or-treating guaranteed a crowd.
“It was always well-attended,” he said. “But people were playing games, getting candy and moving on. We wanted to make it more distinctly Christian.”
They added stations where participants could make a bracelet with beads explaining salvation through Christ as church members used the 3 Circles method to present the Gospel. A full-sized candy bar waited at the end.
It drew a crowd, but the time it took to make the bracelets while presenting the Gospel slowed things down.
This year they used 3 Circles again, but included 500 ready-made bracelets from the North American Mission Board. Six tables with two stations at each consisted of some 16 church members rotating in and out to share the Gospel. Others helped direct foot traffic or in other ways.
3 Circles training had taken place each Sunday night of October. During that time church members were also asked to donate candy bars. More than 700 ended up being delivered, including Snickers, Milky Ways, M&Ms, Reese’s Cups. Even Zeros.
“I don’t know if they were on sale or what, but we got some and laughed about it,” Cavness said. “But some people were really fond of them and took them.”
Attendees may have been as surprised at their response to the Gospel being presented. Cavness said several gave “thoughtful responses” and expressed appreciation.
At the end of Monday evening, 381 bracelets had been given out. Presentations were kept to around three minutes in order to work everyone in.
“We didn’t want people to walk off,” said Cavness. “Our goal was to share the Gospel with as many people who would give us their time and attention. We also gave them other resources and New Testaments.”
The original plan was to keep the candy bar-to-bracelet ratio 1:1, but at least a few other bars were slipped to siblings tagging along. The church also handed out 500 bags of popcorn.
Those from the student ministry joined church members into their 60s and 70s at the event. One recently baptized elementary school student joined her dad in giving the presentation.
“It was a good cross-section of our church participating,” Cavness said. “From a pastor’s standpoint, that’s a blessing to see.”
Would he prefer 15 minutes as opposed to three in explaining the Gospel? Sure. But on this night, the neighborhood literally came to First Baptist’s front door.
“We wanted to make the best of that opportunity,” Cavness said. “We’re praying for God to work. This wasn’t about selling a product, but planting a seed.”