Pokémon Go is here, and churches across America have found themselves in a unique predicament – they are seeing a large number of visitors around the church building. Pokémon Go uses real maps of our cities and towns, and it has denoted certain buildings or points of interest as places to visit for Pokémon Trainers (the preferred title of people playing the game). Because of this, many churches are now Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms which means Pokémon Trainers will be stopping by consistently for some time. So with this influx of visitors, the majority of whom do not have a home church, here are five ways your church can offer hospitality and reach out in love:
- Post Welcome Signs: Many Pokémon Trainers probably feel uneasy venturing onto church property, especially if they have never been to church before. Why not change your marquee or make a sign that clearly states “Pokémon Trainers Welcome!”
- Refreshments for Hot Summer Days: While it is impossible to offer refreshments 24/7, Pokémon Trainers are usually the most active in the evenings (after work) and during the afternoon on weekends. The summer weather is brutally hot; why not have someone offer ice cold bottles of water? They will be thankful, and will likely remember your kindness in the future.
- Have Business Cards and Event Calendars Ready (but Don’t be Pushy): Jim Griffith points out that approximately 85% of West Virginians are not in church on Sunday morning. Many have no connections to church whatsoever; however, there are moments in life where most people are drawn to church – particularly weddings and funerals. By offering the church’s basic information, you may establish a connection that late grows in to a deeper relationship when a spiritual need arises in their life. It is also good to have a schedule of upcoming activities for those that show interest in the church on a deeper level, but be subtle and conscious of their level of interest, giving out unwanted information is usually off-putting and leads to unnecessary trash.
- Find a Pokémon Expert to Host: If you have a few millennials in your congregation, chances are at least one of them is ecstatic about Pokémon Go, and even if you don’t have young adults in your congregation, at least one church member is bound to have a family member that is excited about it. Ask this person to help host trainers during peak times, handing out the refreshments, etc. The great part about excitement is that it is contagious, so a Pokémon fan is the perfect host and will help guests feel even more at home. Also, be sure to have multiple unrelated adults present to host, as we must be conscious of Safe Sanctuaries policies.
- Lure Modules: This last one may sound strange, but there is a way to make your church’s Pokéstop a very exciting place to visit. Usually Pokémon Trainers have to walk all over to find what they are looking for, but a Lure Module is an item in the game that attracts Pokémon to a specific location instead. These Lure Modules cost about a dollar for every thirty minutes. This means that for approximately five dollars, you can host a two and a half hour event where Pokémon Trainers will be intentionally flocking to you because you are offering them exactly what they are looking for: Pokémon!
While these five ideas are far from exhaustible (and some may not fit your context), these provides a starting point to reach new people where they are and offer a small bit of God’s grace. While we may want to jump straight sharing the good news with them, it is necessary for us to build relationships and trust first, and Pokémon Go is offering us an unprecedented opportunity to begin forming those relationships. May God bless you in your Pokévangelism endeavors!