Friday, September 16, 2016

Pokemon Walk in Greencastle

Meghan and Zach get their photo taken in the Poke Picture Center as part of a “Pokewalk” event in Greencastle organized by First UMC, Greencastle.

By Ryan Whisel, Family Ministry Director, First UMC Greencastle

If you’ve watched any sort of news report and talked to anyone who grew up in the 90s, you’ve likely already heard about the Pokemon GO phenomenon taking the world by storm. In a very short time, people of all ages and backgrounds have begun scouring neighborhoods and parks and cities for the elusive creatures. While some stories have shared unfortunate situations that have occurred due to distractions and unaware players, the possibilities for new friendships and community are ripe for the picking. First UMC in Greencastle wasted no time in exploring and setting up an opportunity to capitalize on opening its doors to this fun app.

Despite the threat of getting wet, over twenty people braved the weather to participate in the first of many community “Pokewalks” throughout Greencastle. As the family ministry director, this was too obvious an opportunity to pass up. Even parents showed up playing the game with their children on their own smart phones. With the help of congregants in a variety of ways, we were blessed to bring in individuals from our church and from the area. This is just a starting point to a much larger outreach opportunity. God was faithful in bringing people together at this first walk and planting seeds for even greater things to be done in the future.

Local businesses were excited as well. Denise, owner of Anna’s Paperworks on the square of Greencastle has mentioned the increased traffic and even has a Pokemon-themed advertisement sign for her café in her store.

Here are just a few practical tips and suggestions for your congregation to do something similar:

  • Download the app and become familiar with some of the features
  • Spend time learning where the frequented “stops” and “gyms” are in your area
  • Chat with folks who are playing the game (I spent a good four nights a week walking around town and talking to other players of the game about this event to drum up excitement)
  • Get your church involved: we had folks donate bottles of water to hand out, someone manning a sign-in station, and a Poke Picture Center set up by a volunteer to add some fun elements and picture opportunities
  • Get Pokemon prizes and offer a drawing or even a competition throughout the event to win them
  • Above all, be genuinely excited to meet people and show hospitality. People will want to return next time when they feel they were welcomed and accepted for who they are.

Familiar treats were decorated to resemble Pikachu, a popular Pokemon character, as part of a Pokemon GO community event organized by First UMC in Greencastle.

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