Using Pokémon Go to Reach Your Community

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:
Pokemon Go at FPC Woodbridge, NJ

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:

pokemon is here and so is god

There are water bottles in this cooler. The sign reads "Welcome to FPC Woodbridge. Please take water for your mission.

There are water bottles in this cooler. The sign reads “Welcome to FPC Woodbridge. Please take water for your mission.” There have already been takers, along with some good conversation!

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:

Pokemon Go_lollipops and power pokemon go_lollipops

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!

 

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong is the Founder and CEO of Jen Fong Media, a full service digital marketing firm that helps direct selling companies, businesses, service providers and non-profits reach the people online who can help their organizations grow. We believe in marketing with integrity, building the relationships that matter and approaching marketing from a standpoint of service. For information on how Jen Fong Media can help your organization, please visit us online at http://jenfongmedia.com.

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