Pokemon Go and Your Church: Evangelism and Hospitality Opportunities Are All Around


The game Pokemon Go is a phenomenon like we've never before seen! People of all ages are taking to their communities to play by “catching” Pokemon on their smartphones. Most local churches are part of the game as “PokeStops” or “Gyms” (or both), in other words, a destination for players.

The assignment of “PokeStops” is made by the game maker, rather than the church or business, but there are ways local churches can take advantage of the opportunity to meet the neighbors.

The game is played outdoors, so neighbors are likely to walk by or stop in the parking lot.

Why it Matters

”As the local church, this phenomenon presents us with both challenges and opportunities to be the the incarnate presence of Jesus Christ,” said Rev. Herzen Andone, Director of the Conference Office of Connectional Ministries.


Covenant UMC in Smyrna is considering ways to welcome Pokemon Go players including offering water and snacks.

“From my desk I can see the church parking lot and we have no fewer than 5 cars an hour stop by -- and we are on a side street,” said staff member Sarah Lyons.

An article from Ministry Matters, "What to do if your church is a hub for Pokemon Go," gives practical tips for how to reach out to strangers wandering around your church parking lot.

Connexion UMC in Covington is already doing “Ministry Matters” first two suggestions:

  • “Put out a sign” and
  • “Let people on social media know they are welcome.”

Read Ministry Matters list of ideas:

Connectional Ministries staff also have suggestions:

"If your church does a Pokémon event, do it out front in the churchyard and advertise what you're doing," explained Rev. Sam Halverson. “That's where the stop will be - outside the church building and usually close to the parking lot.”

Plus your church could:

  • Put up signs near the Pokéstop or Poké Gym welcoming visitors.
  • Place an inexpensive cooler of water near the Pokéstop.
  • Put out a notepad or sign-up sheet for anyone interested in getting information about your church Pokémon events.
  • When something is going on at the church (before worship, youth group, or a church dinner) station greeters near the Pokéstop to welcome people with a smile and perhaps a bottle of water.
  • Think about planning a Pokémon event for the community. Announce that you’ll have snack (Poké cupcakes)? Get a Pokémon player to help you plan.
  • If your church is a Poké Gym, pick a hashtag and tell people about it (#FirstUMCPokeGym)
  • Purchase via the game a “Lure Module.” These attract Pokémon to the stop for 30 minutes. Anyone using the app locally can see that it is set up and many people will come. So with the added interest you can have people hanging out at the stop handing out cold popsicles, water, and starting up conversations for all who may come and rest for a bit.


In addition to outreach and hospitality  ideas, we have heard concerns about Pokemon Go. Some questions we have heard are:

  • WIll there be an increase in distracted drivers in our area?
    (The game is played on foot, but many drive to Pokéstops. It is always wise to be mindful of distracted drivers.)
    How does this fit in with our Safe Sanctuaries policy?
    (It’s certainly not necessary to open the church for Pokémon players because the game is played outside, but if you do, consider who will provide supervision.

There are ways to opt out of being a Pokéstop or Gym, but Halverson encourages churches to think very carefully before opting out. First ask, What message would that give the community? Why wouldn’t your church want people from the community walking by?

A second article from Ministry Matters, "The Gospel of Pokemon Go," gives some insight into the advantages of welcoming players and some of the potential downsides.

The game is certainly a fad and interest will likely fade over time, but mission specialist Rev. Scott Parrish encourages churches to "aim for a spirit of hospitality, eager to know folks in your community, showing we can have fun too. That will transfer to the next fad or opportunity."