Friday, 15 July 2016

Mission of the #PokeGym #PokemonGo #Church #PokeStop

I'm guessing you're reading this from one of the following three camps.
1. You're sick to death of hearing all about PokemonGo only one day after it's UK release
2. You're completely confused about what PokemonGo is all about
3. You're playing it and worried about what the heck I'm thinking

Whichever of the camps you're in, bear with me because this is a huge mission opportunity.

What is #PokemonGo?
I hope you recognise this cute little fella (if not then click here).
He is Pikachu and kids, teens and adults have been trying to catch him and his friends on various game platforms since in 1990s.  There is even a card game version which has been a playground craze on and off for years.  Well Pokemon has now been reimagined for the smartphone and we are all challenged to "catch 'em all".  Over 10 million people have downloaded the #PokemonGo app in less than a week and they (and me) are walking (or wheeling) around their local communities, with app open on their phones, to find the characters hidden all over the place.  The more characters you find, the more fun you can have and the more opportunities there are to join with friends and "battle" game play.

What is a #PokeGym?
One of the great things about #PokemonGo is that the developers have created places where players can come to play games called "battles".  They are also places where players can donate a pokemon to help others in their battles; they are places of sharing.  #PokeGyms are places to be and play, they are an essential part of the game and will become popular.

What is a #PokeStop?
A #PokeStop is similar to a #PokeGym but instead of being a place to play games, they are places to gather resources and energy needed to play the game.  It's like a shop for #PokemonGo.  Again it's somewhere people want to visit on a regular basis.

Why is my church a #PokeGym or #PokeStop?
It seems as if the #PokeGyms have been placed in locations where many people have checked in on google or uploaded photos.  There are all sorts of tourist attractions which have gyms (and stops) and also churches, after all lots of people go to churches every week.

What can be missional about this?
It is extremely likely that your church is a #PokeGym or #PokeStop and this is great news for churches, because all of a sudden there will be all sorts of people coming to battle online.  There will be kids, tweens, teenagers, young adults, older adults and families all coming to your church to play #PokemonGo.  There will be lots of people at your church hanging around out of choice and most of them probably won't be members of your church or even people who have ever stepped through the doors.  This is a mission opportunity.

It is an opportunity to show these players that you're connected to their culture, that might be a nice surprise and might change how they think about church.

It is an opportunity to engage with people who come along to play by saying hi and being friendly, you might even join in and make some new friends.

It is an opportunity to serve people, by offering drinks or snacks or just a place in out of the rain.  Or how about offering your plug points for charging their phones?

It is an opportunity to put your church on the map, literally on the #PokemonGo map, and on the social media map.  Suddenly you'll be visible to a whole new set of people.

It is an opportunity to run #PokemonGo sessions where people are invited to come into church and play and share a meal and hang out.  Whatever takes your fancy.

Are there any risks?
One of the amazing things about #PokemonGo is that it is encouraging people to get out of their homes and go out and about.  Of course there are risks with this, especially if people aren't looking where they're going when they're walking or cycling around.  And it isn't great that everyone has their smartphones in their hands ready to be stolen.  But let's be honest; most of us are carrying our phones in our hands or pockets most of the time and aren't really paying attention to what we're doing anyway.  That said, I would advise that care is taken when out and about playing #PokemonGo.

What are we doing at St Nicolas Earley?
Of course it is all fine and good to talk about it, but we have taken the pikachu by the yellow ears and celebrated the fact that we are a #PokeGym.  We have:

  • Tweeted and Facebooked about the fact that we're a #PokeGym

  • Created posters which will be up all over our summer fun day tomorrow inviting people to find the exact location of the #PokeGym
  • Made a sign for our noticeboard telling everyone that we are a #PokeGym and welcoming people to come back on Sunday
  • Requested that the game developers make our church hall into a #PokeStop so that players can come to get resources and then play battles

The opportunity for mission is coming your way, what will you do?