Scaremare: Scary Successful or Outdated?

Is Liberty’s time-tested haunted house as effective as it used to be?

Scaremare is a classic tradition for Liberty University students. Every year residential hall communities, groups of friends and people from churches all around the area gather to experience a classic haunted house with a twist of salvation. While the goal of saving people’s souls perfectly aligns with the mission of the university, is scaring people into thinking about eternity the right avenue to take?

At the end of the haunted trail there is a quick speech on the death and resurrection of Christ, essentially correlating the last hour to eternity without believing in and accepting Jesus. Within that short time frame, there is a chance to accept Jesus in front of friends, strangers and various staff members. While this is a good method of getting people to think existentially, it is not likely that many will be vulnerable under those conditions. Scaremare ought to simply be a conversation starter, not the sole motivator to salvation.

Unfortunately, a simple reality check is not enough to bring people to salvation. When Scaremare first started 46 years ago, culture was different. Most people had a Christian background with Christian values outside of Liberty, but this is not the case now.

Living in the same town as one of the largest Christian universities does not mean people will already have a cultural or religious familiarity with the gospel. Since the goal of the event is to witness, it may be wise to use the time at the end to explain more basic fundamentals of the gospel rather than trying mass-produce Christians.

Liberty wants to lead people toward Christ and salvation, but fear tactics are ineffective if not based on the foundation of a genuine, personal encounter.  One man’s fervency cannot supplement another’s unbelief. Scaremare is a great way to link the outside community to Liberty, and most importantly to Christ. However, this will be most effective when the main principle of love is conveyed first and foremost.

Scaremare is a great tradition, but it ought to be used as the first step in the salvation conversation rather than a means of immediate conversion.

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