By now, if you’ve spent any time on the internet, you are certainly aware of the game ‘Pokemon Go’. It’s a game that uses your smart phone and nostalgia to encourage kids (and young adults) go for walks all over town. There is an interesting component to the whole game that churches should be aware of. The game includes different stations around town where people can go and regain supplies for the game. Fun fact – Churches are almost always one of these stations.
Just yesterday morning, I saw two young boys sitting on my churches lawn for a half an hour, because my church (Twin Oaks UMC) happens to be one of those stations. There are several ways churches could use this game to build relationships with their communities. Here are a few ideas and suggestions:
First of all, get someone to download the game – You don’t need to play. You just want to know where the stations are around town. My town has three “gyms” at the park, post office, and water tower. My church, the library, and another part of the park are all “Pokestops” (places to regain supplies). You need to know if your church is one of these locations before doing anything else. You can download the game for free on your phone.
Embrace it and Advertise it – Churches can roll their eyes at “kids and their games/phones”, or they can take advantage of this free marketing. Print out a sign that tells the community you’re a Pokestop. Let the players know they’re welcome.
Invite People In – If you notice that there are two or three kids sitting on the steps of your church, you should probably invite them in (I botched this one this morning). It’s even better if your church has wifi that they can connect to. You give people a more comfortable setting, while getting them comfortable with the church. You let them get to know you, and you can get to know them.
Dedicated Times – There is a mechanic in the game that allows you to lure Pokemon to your location. For the cost of $1, you can get a half an hour of time where more and more Pokemon will come to these Pokestops. Here’s the kicker: this effect benefits everyone, not just you. That means that if you tell the kids that “tomorrow at 9:30am, the church will have a lure module up. Come by and enjoy some snacks while we hunt together”.
(Edit/Update) Bonus Point: Let a youth lead it – Pastors already have more work than week, so I understand that creating more work seems impossible. Spend 20-30 minutes with a youth in your church you think could do it, talk them through some of these points, then hand it off.
There you go. A few ideas for getting the most out of a fun little phenomenon right now. Churches have a great opportunity to build relationships with young adults who grew up on the original Pokemon (like me) and kids who are just getting into it.
I love y’all, and there’s nothing you can do about it.