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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

Trunk or Treat Outreach Events Mistakes to Avoid

Updated: Jul 1

10 years ago, my children’s pastor approached me with an idea for a Trunk or Treat outreach event: A trunk-or-treat that used candy to tell the Gospel story.  

(Honestly, I had never been a fan of Trunk-or-Treat!) She called it “Candy Thru the Bible.”  Each trunk/station was a Bible story with a candy that went along with the story.  She shared her plans, and I was impressed.  We decided to go for it.

We got started planning.  We didn’t really think it seemed like very many kids walked our street trick-or-treating, so we planned for 120 kids.  Our volunteers were amazing & creative with their trunks… people donated candy… we bought candy… 

And it was a BLOWOUT success.  

Trunk or Treat 1 Blog
  • I talked and led storytelling tours around the parking lot until my voice was hoarse.

  • We had to extend our original time by an hour - because we had too many walking through to shut it down.

  • Instead of 120 kids, we had over twice that many!

  • We sent volunteers to the store, and got out extra candy from storage rooms, and made it work.

  • Parents were laughing and engaged, and the kids were loving it.

a crowd at our Trunk or Treat outreach event

My Trunk or Treat Outreach Mistake

It was great!  We wrapped up the night completely exhausted, packed it all in… and sat down to survey the wreckage review the evening.

Suddenly, it hit me: The one thing I had forgotten to plan for.



I knew a number of people who had come thru.  I recognized them from Walmart, or down the street.  But I didn’t have numbers.  Or many names.  Or addresses.  I couldn’t send anyone a note.  I couldn’t call or text anyone to say “Thanks for coming.”

I know — it wasn’t totally a waste.  The Gospel was preached.  But I knew I had made a horrific error.

And I made 3 simple decisions, ones that you need to make if you want to have a successful trunk or treat outreach:

1. I will never let this happen to me again.

It’s not enough to recognize when something goes badly — you have to say “never again.”

It’s an emotional response, and it is definitely needed to create the determination to fix what went wrong. There really are no words for how strongly I felt about this. This will never happen to me again.  

Fixing Your Trunk or Treat mistakes

When something goes wrong in your organization, you can respond with:

  1. “No big deal.” (Minimize failure)

  2. “Well, we couldn’t really help that.” (Rationalize failure)

  3. “So-and-so should have…” (Reassign failure)

  4. “OK. How can we fix it?” (Learn from failure.)

I definitely wanted to learn from this!

So here's what I did next:

2. I will have a strategy for collecting information.

This is strategic response, and without it, you’re just being emotionally moved, without actually being changed.

It’s not enough to say ‘never again’ — you must make a plan for ‘never again!’

If you're a trunk or treat leader, You'll need to sit down and evaluate it, so you can find a way to fix what went wrong. I've done this every year for the last 10 years after Halloween, and that's helped me never stop improving the trunk or treat at our church.

So I built a Trunk or Treat outreach system, that can help our church (or any church) not miss the crucial details that make it possible for your church fall outreach to be successful.

Gospel Trunk or Treat Outreach planning kit

If you want your own Trunk or Treat outreach plan, you can get it instantly right here!

3. I will equip someone to be in charge of our Trunk or Treat follow-up plan.

It’s not enough to define how “never again” looks — you have to:

  1. tell someone.  This provides accountability.

  2. recruit someone.  This provides reproducibility.

  3. equip someone.  This provides teamwork.

We got someone to tackle that issue, and we've continued to grow our list of contacts through our Trunk or Treat.

The next year, I asked someone to be in charge of making sure the guest follow-up plan happened… and it did!

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