There is an game/app that’s taking over the attention of people young and old in your town. It’s Pokémon Go, and you may not know it, but your church might already be an important part of the game! I’ve seen hundreds of people playing and most were adults. Half were in business attire. So don’t think this is just a kids’ thing. Let’s not miss out on this great opportunity to reach the lost while they are seeking (Pokémon).
The game is based around Pokémon, small creatures from the very popular video games, tv shows, movies, comics, etc. etc. etc! If you don’t know what Pokémon is, I’d be surprised. Just in case, the premise is that you are a trainer of small animals (Pokemon) and you catch them with traps called PokeBalls.
You should also be aware of the app that came out in early July. It’s been getting a lot of sensational headlines lately. The game uses one’s phone GPS to find Pokémon and other key locations in the real world.
In the game you use resources, like PokeBalls and other consumable items. There are 2 ways to stock up. First is to buy them from the PokeStore in the app; this could involve real money, so people avoid it. The other is a free option called a PokeStop. A computer algorithm decided where these PokeStops would be, and it automatically chose real-life places like Restaurants, Police Stations, Parks, Monuments and CHURCHES. There’s a very good chance that YOUR CHURCH is already a PokeStop. We have found that both of the churches we attend are PokeStops, as are the ones closest to our home.
The PokeStops are easy to find on the app, and people are drawn to them. But there’s something else that makes them doubly attractive and this can become a really great tool for us to show God’s love: LURES! Lures can be added to any PokeStop to attract more Pokemon, which can in turn attract more players to not only pass by to collect items but also hang around for a chance to make a catch.
In the app the PokeStop with a lure starts to rain pink flower petals. This morning I saw one at the PokeStop located at the park near my house. That was enough to get me to walk over there. No less than 8 people were there where normally people don’t loiter. ALL of them had their phones out and were playing Pokémon Go.
We chatted, all new acquaintances, for over twenty minutes, before I continued my walk. I saw that the near-by Methodist Church PokeStop had a lure on it too, and when I arrived there, a couple of girls were standing around and I asked if they added the lure. “Not us,” they replied. When another player showed up, I realized something: these people were coming to church of their own volition, just to catch Pokémon!
Imagine if churches took a cue from this and became proactive in reaching out to these players. It’s not difficult to take control of your PokeStop and make it an evangelistic opportunity.
Follow these Steps:
- Get the app and start playing the game yourself. It’s quite fun, and it’s good to know what you’re talking about when the players start to show up.
- Buy lures from the PokeStore using real money. YES, REAL MONEY. Buy them in bulk. You can get them down to $0.50 each if you buy them by spending $100 on Pokemon Coins, and then buying a bunch of 8 packs. You may be thinking, “$100??????? of real money???” Start out with 1 lure at $1 each and when it works, spend the $100. (You might be able to get your first one free from a PokeStop, too.) If you’re not sure where to get the money, it’s in your MISSIONS budget. Because this is cross-cultural missions here.
- Make a sign that is inviting, like “Pokemon players, come inside from some free cold juice (hot cocoa in the winter) and cookies!” And then make sure you have a stock of juice, cups, cookies and some time.
- Place the lure on your PokeStop. >>Instructions here<< It will last for 30 minutes. Make sure someone has time to be available to host. You don’t want people to come and go without seeing a face.
- Once the pink petals start falling from your PokeStop, keep your eyes open and be ready to go outside and talk to the players. I’ve met dozens of players in the past few days and ALL of them were very kind and polite. Be welcoming, let them know you’ve got some snacks inside for when the lure runs out, and invite them to come back on Sundays (or whenever). Most importantly, LOVE them.
- When the lure runs out, plan your next one. One a day should be a great way to start. Try different times of day. Try 30 minutes before your service begins. It’s a very easy thing to do and the cost is minimal. YOU CAN DO IT! Don’t be shy!
This game has been bringing people together from all backgrounds, and we as Christians know that the Gospel also does the same. This game might be changing people’s lives through healthier habits (it encourages exercise) and new social opportunities, but the Gospel will give people life eternal.
Consider Pokemon Lure placements to turn your church into a beacon on a digital hill and as a means to shining Christ’s love to the lost. Of course, you don’t have to be a church to use this. We can all drop a lure and start a conversation with eternal impact.
Have you played the game? How do you think the various items in the game are reflections of the Gospel? Let me know in the comments below. If this is the first post you’re reading, please check out some of the movie reviews on this site, and follow on Facebook: http://facebook.com/cartoonsgotsaved