Pokemon Go. Over the last couple of weeks this game seems to have taken control of most of our social media feeds, and even some of our parishes. The new geolocation incarnation of this 90s game series caught a number of parishes (and police stations, military bases, etc) by surprise as, all of a sudden, dozens or hundreds of Millenials started wandering their grounds to hit up Pokestops, challenge Gyms, and even catch elusive and rare breeds of Pokemon. The response by most youth ministers could probably be broadly categorized in one (or more) of 5 following ways.
- What is a Pokemon?
- Why do we need one more reason to stare our phones?
- Which starting Pokemon should I choose and what team should I be on?
- Is there a way I can get the church to cover my data overages?
- What are the implications for evangelization or, if I may, Pokevangelization?
Regardless of where you fall on the 1st four questions (but for the 3rd #BulbasaurAndTeamInstinct4Eva!) I would like to focus on the 5th.
Whether you are Pokemon Go or Pokemon No, it is worth considering what you are doing to engage the youth and young adults who are going to be crashing through your parish for the next few months (at least) in relationships, and in the goodness, truth, and beauty of the Jesus and His Church. Here are a 7 tips to help you become a master Pokevangelist:
- Set up a basic welcome sign: Let people know that they are welcome, who you are, and how to connect.
- Offer them something: Let them know if you have cold drinks, snacks, or coffee available that they can have.
- Invite them inside: Let them know that your doors are open and set up a charging station inside your youth center or offices.
- Get to know them: This is key. Ask them a couple basic questions. Start with name, which Pokemon they started with, and what team they are on. Also ask them why? Why do they like playing? Why Charmander? You don’t have to be an expert you just have to listen.
- Don’t stop with Pokemon: After you get the ball rolling ask them a few more questions. Do they live in the area? School? Work? Are their friends playing? How else do they spend their time? This is a great chance to get to know your community.
- Lure them back: Create an obvious moment of return. Lots of parishes are hosting special Pokemon events. There are ways in the game that attract wild Pokemon to where you are at called Lures. These not only attract Pokemon, they attract players. A number of parishes are setting up advertised times where they will be adding Lures to their Pokestops and providing food, drinks, and fellowship for their youth and others playing the game.
- Pray for them: Don’t forget that one of the most powerful things you can do for them is pray. Make sure you do, but also make sure you let them know you are and come up with simple ways for them to let you know what they need prayers for (you could always just ask).
These are just a few basics for burgeoning Pokevangelists, and almost all of them are something you can do even if you don’t play the game. I would love to hear how you and your parish baptizing Pokemon Go into a tool for sharing the gospel. Hit me up in the comments.