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I closed the poll for the Halloween discussion last night. It was interesting to see how many churches are doing something at Halloween, and how the increasing popularity of the festival challenges us to think through how to respond in a godly way to our changing culture. Some of us find the whole thing a bit scary, though, it seems.

Light Party
24%
Turning the lights off and hiding behind the sofa
22%
Giving out sweeties to trick or treaters
16%
Giving out tracts to trick or treaters
16%
Other
14%
Pumpkin Devotional
4%
A Light up the Night type walk
2%
Trick or Treating
0%
Going door to door giving out treats
0%

As ever, the most fun and inspiring part of the poll has been the ‘other’ answers. I was very encouraged to find out that people would be praying. Not necessarily so sure about trying to get the Vicar drunk though. And I can’t be the only one who finds the prospect of a Churches Together disco extremely alarming, surely?

All Souls Day Eve Prayer/All Hallows Evensong 2
Barn Dance (though I’d rather be behind the sofa!) 1
Churches together Disco 1
Trying to get the Vicar drunk 1
Saying that we are Christians and celebrate happy things – so come back at Xmas! 1
Away on half term holidays 1

I enjoyed having another poll up again. Anyone got ideas for another?

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Sorry not to have posted these results before. Somehow it’s harder to find time to do things in the holidays… Anyway, here they are:

Technique Votes Percentage
Colouring/quizzes 23 21%
Books 21 19%
Other (see below) 15 14%
Extensive pre-service briefing on loving ones neighbour by not distracting them 13 12%
Breadsticks or other healthy snack 12 11%
Threats 8 7%
Cuddly toys 8 7%
Sweeties or similar 7 6%
My kids always sit nicely, I don’t know what you’re talking about 1 1%

Other Answers (all 1 vote each)

Participation

  • taking time to answer all questions about what’s going on and being said
  • Get them to play in the music group!
  • OH actually tries to get him to follow the lesson and sing the hymns!
  • cuddles, sitting on knee and talking about what is going on
  • Participation in the worship
  • Quietly talking them through what’s happening.

Training

  • Teaching and training parents in how to develop their kids’ attention level

Extreme

  • Gags
  • taser

Distraction/other

  • wandering round with them so they can focus on something ‘more interesting’;
  • Not always possible but don’t take them until they want to
  • “What’s Daddy doing now?”
  • Have child-focused services and a creative vicar
  • Just letting them be
  • i dont have kids!

So the recommended techniques seem to be a combination of activities (including participating in the service), food and working on expectations (both children’s, parents’ and congregation’s – the latter was mentioned more in the comments).

It’s a tricky area for us all I suspect and I guess we need to encourage one another to persevere. We want those kids to be real church family members now as they will be the core church family of the future, God willing.

This subject is ripe for future polls, so watch out for more once the summer hols are over and my thinking head is less distracted by screaming kids beating each other up. We like to set a good model of Christian family life here in the Vicarage.

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