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Episode Shownotes

Halloween has become an increasingly central part of the social lives of families and neighborhoods. So, where do churches fit in? In this episode, Heather is joined by Pastor and Pioneer Kris Beckert whose passion for fall sports, campfires and Halloween is central to how leads both a traditional congregation and Fresh Expressions of Church.

Kris Beckert is pastor of Table Life Church. She completed the M.Div. at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and has served at churches in the Baptist, United Methodist, and Nazarene traditions. Prior to being called to ministry, she received an M.S. in environmental science from the University of Maryland, where she also worked in the field, researching coastal environments and enhancing science communication. Kris is an avid runner, cartoonist, and archer and enjoys cheering for her Carolina TarHeels and Philadelphia Phillies.

Fresh Expressions is a worldwide movement of everyday missionaries who want to see churches thrive in the places we live, eat, work and play by leveraging the creativity and endurance of the inherited church. To learn a simple five-phase process for starting a new expression of church go to freshexpressions.com/howtostart.

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Interview Summary

The fall season offers a unique opportunity for churches to connect with their communities in fun and meaningful ways. To explore this idea, Heather Jallad spoke with Kris Beckert, pastor of Table Life Church in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

Beckert has years of experience pioneering creative community outreach around fall holidays like Halloween. She shared wise insights on moving past fears and objections to leverage autumn as a bridge-building season.

Holidays Spark Spiritual Openness

Though Halloween may seem controversial, Beckert sees it as a chance to “meet people where they are.” She explained, “People are thinking spiritual things…there’s a hunger for what is next.” Rather than avoid the holiday, she suggested “redeeming it” by highlighting eternal life.

Beckert encouraged, “Don’t be afraid. Believe in the God of redemption.” She pointed to how the early church “adapted and reclaimed” pagan solstice rituals like Christmas trees and Easter eggs. Similarly, we can find the “light of Christ” in Halloween.

Simple Ideas for Fall Outreach

Kris Beckert offered creative ideas for low-cost fall outreach:

  • Host a pumpkin giveaway to foster neighborhood connections. Let relationships develop organically.
  • Set up a safe rest stop for trick-or-treaters. Offer bathrooms, first aid, hot drinks.
  • Participate in existing fall events versus creating new ones. Find small ways to get involved.
  • Try a fire pit night with marshmallows and conversation.

She emphasized keeping efforts simple, not worrying about perfection.

You don’t need a multimillion dollar budget.

Kris Beckert

Focus on Service, Not Performance

A key mindset shift Rev. Beckert recommended was moving from performing outreach events to serving natural needs.

For instance, her church provides safety tents for lost trick-or-treaters instead of a big “trunk or treat” event. She explained, “It’s about the people, not the pumpkins.” They focus on addressing real parenting needs versus putting on a show.

Step Forward in Faith, Not Fear

In conclusion, Beckert exhorted church leaders, “Don’t be afraid of trying a new approach.” She prayed for “open bathrooms and open hearts.”

Her advice reminds us that God often calls us into uncertainty and new frontiers.

This fall, may we embrace fresh vision for how our churches can brightly reflect Christ’s light in our communities.

Kris Beckert

What new approach to fall outreach might God be inviting your church to try? How can you creatively serve real needs versus putting on a performance? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

Reflections Questions:

  • What are some simple, low-cost ideas you could try this fall to better connect with your neighborhood?
  • How can you focus more on addressing real community needs versus just putting on impressive events?
  • What is one new outreach approach you feel called to pioneer this fall? What first step can you take?
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Jeanette Staats
About the Author

Jeanette Staats

Jeanette has over 20 years of diverse experience in collegiate ministry, specializing in general oversight, staff coaching and development, children's ministry, and discipleship. She holds a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Professional Writing from Virginia Tech and a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies from the John Leland Center for Theological Studies. She also serves on the board for The Ecclesia Network. Jeanette is an avid Hokie fan and rarely misses an opportunity to watch a collegiate sporting event.