Pokemon Go is taking the world by storm.
So… What is it and why should you care about it?
What Pokemon Go is…
Pokemon Go is a video game for smartphones that uses augmented reality to transform the surrounding area a player is located at into a Pokemon world.
So, why should you care about an augmented reality video game?
I’ve got 3 reasons why it’s important for you to care about Pokemon Go and what it means for your children’s ministry and church.
1. People Are Spending A Lot of Time Playing Pokemon Go
It is the most heavily used app across all smartphone platforms averaging 33 minutes of daily use from players (Lancaster 2016). Also, it is beating out mainstays like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by over 10 minutes in daily usage! What’s even more amazing is it has only been available to download for a week!
2. Multi-generational Reach
It has multi-generational reach. Simply put, it is not only being played by kids. There are countless teenagers, and adults of all ages are jumping in to this video game. Additionally it is creating family experiences, where families are going outside to go and catch Pokemon in their local parks!
3. PokeStops & PokeGyms
Your church is more than likely a PokeStop or a PokeGym.
I bet you are saying, my church is a what?
Let me explain…
A PokeStop is a local landmark or building that players of Pokemon Go travel to with the hopes of getting in-game rewards. For instance, you can’t capture Pokemon without having Pokeballs, Pokestops are a FREE way for players to receive this basic tool of the game.
I want to make it abundantly clear, a PokeStop is NOT a specific room or part of your building, it is just the campus or parking lot area that a player of the game must get in the vicinity of to access.
A PokeGym is a local landmark or building that players of Pokemon Go travel to in hopes of boosting the stats of their Pokemon characters and to take on rival teams.
These PokeStops & PokeGyms are the reason you’ve had an increase in random cars and people walking through your parking lots and around your buildings.
So… How can we leverage this to be a positive thing for our children’s ministries?
You can do what one of my friend’s Jason Martin is doing with his Youth Group in Wentzville, MO.
They are setting up an in-game item called a “lure” that brings Pokemon to your Pokestop.
I can tell you one thing, they are going to have a TON of youth that have never been to their church and its because they are embracing this video game.
You can do the same thing for your children’s ministry and have a contest to see who can capture the most Pokemon after service!
You’re probably saying to yourself, “that’s great Lance, but what about safety?”
I hear you loud and clear, safety is the number one priority for our children’s ministries.
I am by no means saying to circumvent your check-in systems or security protocols in your ministry to utilize Pokemon GO.
Stay vigilant and keep your team alert for any strange or odd activity.
Also, it’s important to inform and educate your parents about this video game as well.
It’s exciting for parents to have their kids say they want to go outside instead of sitting inside watching TV or playing their Xbox One all day long; however, Pokemon GO hasn’t been without its incidents of people being robbed, or hurt while going to a PokeGym or Pokestop that was in a questionable location. There will always be someone who is looking to take advantage of people and with our kids we need to be even more aware of that with a game like this.
So, here’s some quick guidelines you can share with your parents to use for this game:
1. parents need to have a candid conversation with their kids about the game and set up age appropriate boundaries.
2. the locations in the game are public places, but parents need to define which places are OK for their kids to go to.
3. Younger kids need to have adult supervision to play the game & older kids need to travel in groups to play the game.
4. Communicate! Older kids need to let parents know where they are heading and when they arrive via text or call!
5. Be aware of your surroundings, its easy to get sidetracked while walking with your phone, tablet, or iPod in your hand.
There is great opportunity to engage with our communities and reach people who might never have thought of stepping foot on the campus grounds of a church.
Plus, every kid in America is playing this game and we can leverage Pokemon Go for the Kingdom of God!