Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard about Pokémon Go. It’s a game that lets players hunt virtual Pokémon (via their mobile devices) in the real world. At last report, there were 21 million users in the US alone (!!!) It’s really encouraging people to get out of their houses and get some exercise, and lots of people are having a ton of fun playing it, including my kids. And while there have been some safety concerns, by establishing some ground rules and checking privacy and access settings, users can safely enjoy getting outside while discovering historical landmarks, parks and more in their own towns.
Pokémon Go as Outreach
But have you thought about how you can use this phenomenon to connect with your community as a nonprofit or church? It can be very easy to think of this as a “kid thing” and not give it another thought. But one church in Woodbridge, NJ, gave it a bit more thought. While sitting in a social media meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Woodbridge, a look at the Pokémon Go app told them that the church was well represented in the Pokémon world.
Here’s what Associate Pastor Shelley Gardner posted:
It would have been easy for the church to simply say, “How fun,” and move on to the next item in their meeting agenda. But they didn’t. Instead, they decided to use this as an opportunity to connect with their community. Take a look at what they did:
They discovered that one young man in their congregation is beyond a Level 8 player in the game, and he is in the process of launching a “lure” which will draw additional Pokémon (and people) to the church. FPC Woodbridge will be ready to welcome them!
They also found out that the game can be a serious drain on a phone’s battery. So look what else they added:
How Can a Video Game Bring People Closer to God?
It can be so easy to just dismiss what “everyone is doing,” especially if it involves digital technology which we may not be as comfortable using. How can a video game bring people closer to God’s people? But as First Presbyterian Woodbridge is demonstrating, by tapping into the things your community is excited about, you can offer a cup of cold water (or a lollipop, or power…) in Christ’s name (literally!) and form new connections with your community.
Is your church reaching out to people who are playing Pokémon Go? What are you doing? Please continue the conversation by sharing your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!