U.S.—Hit mobile game Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm, and churches are benefiting handsomely from the augmented reality phenomenon.
According to a survey of America’s churches, 82% reported a substantial spike in attendance as Pokémon GO trainers wandered on and around their properties in order to take advantage of game-boosting Pokéstop buffs and rare Pokémon scattered about their campuses.
“We just open the doors and let them wander in unaware,” one pastor said. “Then, when they’re busy catching a Pokémon or taking advantage of our Pokéstop module, we lock the doors behind them and fire up the worship songs. Poor guys don’t know what hit ’em until it’s too late.”
Other churches reported using strategies like holding special community groups focused on helping players catch rare and high-level Pokémon in their area, promising in-game items and buffs for players who make a decision for Christ, and shutting down Sunday services to allow members and visitors more time to catch the virtual pocket monsters.
Another pastor was just happy the Christian message was being heard, no matter what the means. “We’re excited that people are encountering the gospel through—wait, hang on, there’s a Charmander over there—gotta go!”