How Pokémon Go is bringing gamers to church … sort of


Girard First United Methodist Church in Ohio is capitalizing on the three PokéStops on its property by creating ‘refilling stations’ with water, snacks and electricity for recharging phones. The church’s connection coordinator, Shane Russo, said the game has brought the community ‘out in force,’ with adults — who had no prior affiliation with the church — taking the initiative to bring food for the kids who were playing. Photo courtesy of Shane Russo

BIRMINGHAM (Religion News Service, Maggie Walsh) — If your church is suddenly overtaken by Millennials with their eyes stuck on their phones, you can thank Pokémon. And several Alabama Baptist churches and at least one association have experienced this latest fad.

Yes, Pokémon. The Nintendo-owned franchise, which produced colorful cards and later video games, is back — this time luring young adults out of their apartments and into museums, parks and places of worship.

The app uses players’ phone GPS to locate where they are, then makes Pokémon appear on the phone screen in real-life locations so players can “catch” all 151 virtual creatures.

The app has become a viral sensation among teens and young adults, overtaking Tinder and Twitter in daily users. Online research company SurveyMonkey reported July 13 that Pokémon Go is now the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. Millennials are walking around with their phones, finding “PokéStops” and “Gyms” at local places of interest: libraries, parks, art galleries, subway stations, zoos and more.

But, as some gamers are discovering, virtual Pokémon also can be found at several churches too. Whether it’s a hyped-up game that will be gone in a month or here to stay there’s no denying that for now it’s bringing gamers to church doors.

To read about how Alabama Baptists are using this “cultural phenomenon,” as one youth pastor calls it, to spread the love of Christ, go to

About thealabamabaptist

State Baptist newspaper serving Baptists in Alabama, providing information, inspiration and interpretation as well as challenging readers to serve and find opportunities for ministry that further the kingdom of God.
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