3 Things You Need To Know About Pokemon Go

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!

14 thoughts on “3 Things You Need To Know About Pokemon Go

  1. Adrian Selmon says:

    I get what you are saying but saying that through this people can come to know Christ is a bit of a reach. Appreciate the thoughts though.

    • Mark Feauto says:

      People will not come to know Christ through the game. I don’t think that was claimed. The game is simply bait to attract people who would not normally (or voluntarily) come to your church, at which point it’s then your responsibility to begin a relationship with that person, invite them to stay, and ultimately, lead them to Christ. It works similar to an outreach event, inflatables, free food, games, a movie night, whatever it is you use to get the unchurched to your church. So it’s simply bait you use to catch-em-all (see what I did there?? #cornyjoke =P)!

  2. Sherli Morgan says:

    I have a children’s pastor friend that discovered they had a PokeStop outside their church; so they set up several areas that had church info; free stuff for adults & kids (pens, visors, etc) and with church logos & put out bottled water for those coming by to take. I’m excited of the possibility.

    AND I think it could be something to get people inside the church doors – we never know what God is going to use.

  3. Jeanne Bowser says:

    Thanks Lance for your thoughts. We’ve discussed Pokemon in the office some, and I now have some mixed thoughts about the pros and cons of the game. I definitely think we should use it as a tool to share Jesus with people.

  4. Josh says:

    I love that this bridges the generation gap. I have a coworker who was having a hard time getting her kids to do anything with her. They just wanted to sit and play video games. Now they have poke-outings. Now when they go home, they unplug and talk about their outings… Which has “evolved” into actual conversation beyond the game!
    The only “cons” that I can see are people playing irresponsibly and getting injured.

  5. Keturah says:

    Thanks for sharing! While we agree that being educated on the game however,some very unfortunate things have come from participants. Hackers have “lured” and robbed people, cemeteries have had buried services interrupted by wandering Pokemon Go users as they are burying loved ones. The name “Pokemon” is a combination of the words “pocket” and “monsters” and the game has roots in black magic and the like. We wouldn’t consider our church campus becoming a pokestop because we run the risk of attracting ANYONE to our secure Childrens facilitity. There are many secular things that can be creatively used as a spiritual draw but I can’t get behind the notion of this being one of them.

    • Lance McKinnon says:

      Keturah, I appreciate your point of view. Yes, unfortunately their are those that use the technology irresponsibly and disrespectfully as you mentioned interrupting services within cemeteries; however, there has also been some great engagement between local churches and their community (see Sherli Morgan’s comment). Many of the Pokestop or Pokegym locations are just the campus grounds themselves, not specific rooms, mainly the people I’ve found are outside. I wholeheartedly agree and am behind not compromising your children’s facility. Trust me, I’ve got check-in systems, security measures, and background checks in place to keep my families safe. Also, I respect your churches decision to not become a Pokestop or Pokegym. It’s a decision each church has to make on their own with their leadership teams. If you find out that your church is a Pokestop or Pokegym already you can request on their website to be removed as well (I can send the link to you if you want it handy!)

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