Pokemon Go is a new app for smart phones released in last Thursday in the US that has rocketed to the top of the app charts. This phenomenon has created a huge opportunity for our congregations to show hospitality to our neighbors. Don’t believe me? Read on.
In less than one week, millions of users – mostly millennials – have downloaded the free app, which uses a phone’s GPS to locate where they are, and then makes Pokemon (little mythical creatures) appear on the screen in real-life locations. The object is to find all of the 151 creatures and battle or catch them.
Why should we care? The game’s developers randomly chose many public locations and buildings to be PokeStops or gyms – places where players can battle or catch a Pokemon. Many of these locations just happen to be churches. One may be yours.
I won’t pretend to understand how the battling or catching works, but if you suddenly see an abundance of teens or young adults hanging around your building, you can use this opportunity to engage with these visitors. Waiting for or battling a Pokemon takes some time, so why not use that time to let your visitor know who you are and what you are about?
Forward Movement has developed some resources for churches (including this bulletin insert: Pokemon Bulletin Insert_2-up), that have people stopping by within the context of the game. Listed below are links to a few articles about the relationship of churches to the game. Some of them include some great ideas on how to engage the Pokemon seekers, such as putting up a sign or putting something catchy on your church sign; offering a charging station for seekers to charge their phones; offering free use of your Wifi; or simply offering a cold drink or a cool place to sit and wait. Whatever you do, don’t call the police on them or ask them to move on.
In a time when many of our congregations are racking their brains trying to come up with new ways to engage with their neighborhood, Pokemon Go has just handed the Church a huge gift on a silver platter. The first step in this beautiful opportunity for engagement is just finding out if your church is a PokeStop or a gym. Don’t know how? Just ask your 10-year-old neighbor.
8 ways Churches Can Capitalize on Pokemon Go: http://thewardrobedoor.com/2016/07/churches-pokemon-go.html
How Pokemon is luring millennials to the church (parking lot): http://religionnews.com/2016/07/11/how-pokemon-go-is-luring-millennials-to-the-church-parking-lot/
Pokemon Go: Sending People to Your Church: http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-sending-people-church/
Pokemon Go-es to Church!: http://www.funeralhomechurch.com/2016/07/pokemon-go-es-to-church.html
What to do if your church is a hub for Pokemon Go: http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/7142/what-to-do-if-your-church-is-a-hub-for-pokmon-go
14 Ways Your Church Can Use Pokemon Go Right Now: http://www.stevefogg.com/2016/07/12/churches-pokemon-go/
Come for Jigglypuff, stay for Jesus: Church in the age of Pokemon Go: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/07/13/come-for-a-jigglypuff-stay-for-jesus-church-in-the-age-of-pokemon-go/
Connections editor Julie Murray serves as Associate Director of Communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact her at email@example.com. Just don’t ask her how to catch a Pokemon.