Monday, 31 October 2011
I remember around this time a couple years ago, a girl I worked with asked off for the entire week of Halloween. She had mentioned to our manager that it was for a Christian event. Having told me she was a youth pastor, I thought perhaps she was taking her group on a trip. I asked what her youth group was doing during her days off, and she explained:
We're having a Hell house.
You may have seen signs for Hell houses in your own area. They look like any other haunted house attraction on the outside, but the purpose is very different. While the scenes and events inside are scary, they are meant to depict sin in its ultimate vile form. Many Hell houses portray controversial issues – such as abortion, suicide, murder and adultery – in a detailed, gruesome light.
All of this is to contrast the final portion of the Hell house tour: an open invitation to accept Christ and avoid having to face all of these horrifying images in real life.
The first Hell house was created in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, televangelist and founder of Liberty Christian Academy. Scaremare, as it is called, is now in its 39th season, and the university's website boasts having led more than 26,000 into a relationship with Jesus Christ through Scaremare.
Another well known Hell house is the Temple Hell House in Temple, Texas. Hosted by Bethel Chuch, the Temple Hell House includes, according to its website, a 45 minute tour “guided by a demon,” featuring “guns, blood, violence, intense scenes and disturbing images.”
While Hell houses attract thousands of people, they also cost thousands of dollars and require thousands of volunteer hours to put together. But if you want to start a Hell house, New Destiny Christian Center in Thornton, Colorado, wants to help you out – with its Hell House Outreach Kit. Its promotional motto:
Shake your city with the most
"in-your-face, high-flyin', no denyin', death-defyin', Satan-be-cryin', keep-ya-from-fryin', theatrical stylin', no holds barred, cutting-edge"
evangelism tool of the new millennium!
The Hell house has been around for quite a long time, and while the concept is indeed interesting, it is no less controversial. It may be a bit deceptive, but many churches claim it's nothing if not effective.
Below is the promotional video for this year's Dark Rail Hell House, sponsored by Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas. This video contains dramatic interpretations of drug use, violence and suicide, and it may not be suitable for children. You can get more information about the Hell house on their website.
Have you ever been to a Hell house? Have you ever helped put on a Hell house? Do you see these as effective ministry tools, or are they too deceptive?Image Source