It seems these days you can’t turn on the news or walk around a park without being surrounded by a new game called Pokemon Go. Some of you may even be avid players of the game while others are left scratching your heads wondering what on earth a pokemon gym is. Don’t worry, you are a not alone.
Pokemon Go is a game people play on their phones or other electronic devices. Its main goal is to encourage people to move, walk, explore etc. As you move around town you come across various pokemon creatures that you capture using your device’s camera. These pokestops can be found in parks, municipal buildings and churches.
So what does this mean for your ministry?
Depending on the proximity of your ministry to town you may have noticed random people wondering around your parking lot staring at their phones then doing a victory dance. In this case, you are most likely a pokestop. If your location is more rural you probably are not listed.
Now, is this a good or a bad thing?
The answer to this question is twofold and depends on your ministry.
1. If your ministry runs a school / daycare or you are hosting a children’s program like VBS you probably don’t want to encourage strangers trespassing around your building.
2. If your ministry does not host the above programs you could view this as a potential outreach opportunity. Many churches are taking advantage of the new foot traffic and posting signs encouraging pokemon go users.
“We are so much more than just a pokestop! Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Matthew 28:19.”
“Instead of chasing Pokemon, Chase Jesus.”
“We’re Not a Poke’Stop, Sorry. But we are a Jesus Stop.”
“Worship 10 AM. Welcome Pokemon Go Trainers.”
“We are a pokestop. Get Supplies outside, find Jesus inside.”
“Looking for Pokemon or Jesus? Both found here.”
“Come for Pokemon, stay for Church.”
So how do you proceed based on what is best for your ministry?
1. Determine what objects from the game are located on the church property before entering the property. Anyone who has downloaded the game can determine this. Depending on the distance the player does not always need to be on your property to play the game.
2. If your ministry determines this is not something you want to support you can post signage like the image below. You can download it by clicking on the PDF button. You can also contact Niantic Labs here in order to remove your location as a pokestop.
While pokemon go players can bring concern they can also bring new outreach opportunities. It is important to discuss with your board what you believe is best for your ministry. As always, if you have questions or concerns feel free to contact us!