Evangelism & Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go. In only 19 days, this game was downloaded 50 million times. Even though it was only released on July 6, the game has exceeded 75 million downloads. Whether or not you’ve downloaded the game, the odds are that you’ve probably heard about it by now. And while you may not know anything about it other than it causing a bunch of people to walk around with their heads glued to their phone screens, and as ridiculous as it may seem to you, my point is that you’ve probably heard about this game. We live in an age that information has the capacity to be spread with extreme speed.

For those who are not familiar with the game, it uses your phone GPS to track your movements over an actual map of where you’re at with the goal of catching Pokémon creatures that temporarily appear in various locations. There is one primary benefit to this game as it does get you out of the house with a goal of actually walking around to find Pokémon. That said, for parents, please remind your children to practice proper safety when playing.

For those parents who may not be familiar with the game, I’ve compiled a list of helpful safety reminders. First, don’t play this game while driving or be in a car with someone who is playing while driving. Already, there have been numerous accidents attributed to distracted driving while playing this game. On that note, also pay attention while walking and crossing streets. With various third party tracking apps, I have witnessed kids jump in a car speedily race through the neighborhood on their quest to a reported location of a rare Pokémon being spotted. Second, pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t go in risky places. Don’t trespass on private property. And don’t play the game in places, times, or events where it would be considered disrespectful. For example, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have had to repeatedly ask the public to be respectful and not play the game while at those sites. Third, it’s just a game. There are already reports of players who have spent days without sleep playing the game. There was an incident of a young man in Oregon being stabbed at 1 am while playing the game. There actually have been numerous reports of robberies, but the Oregon incident was even more peculiar, because he didn’t immediately seek police or medical attention. He wanted to continue playing. Even after police met with him, he initially refused medical treatment so that he could continue his mission as he described of being the best Pokémon player. His stab wound required eight stitches. While the game is set to an augmented reality, it’s important to make a distinction between that and actual reality. And I understand that in reality, this game may be extremely important to someone, but it merits the discussion of establishing proper priorities in life. Finally, this game naturally encourages interaction with other players. Whether it be on how to play, or to point others to a location where a Pokémon is found, people, even strangers, will talk to one another. Just be safe in who you talk to and interact with. There are people out there who have been using this game with malicious intent towards others.

With all of that said, it’s still a fun game when played responsibly. I have seen more people walking around the community and at parks. I have seen parents walking with their kids in search of Pokémon. It also seems there are many more people walking their dogs. Simply put, I’ve noticed a lot more people out and about walking through the neighborhood.

Going back to the idea of how quickly information is spread in this day and age, I couldn’t help but think about ways to share the Gospel message. It is life changing truth: Jesus is the only way to salvation. It seems so easy to talk to someone about Pokémon Go. Why is it so difficult for there to be conversations about things that truly matter? Why is the world so reluctant to hear this message? Difficult or not, we have a responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and show Christ’s love to the world. I’m not sure how long this Pokémon Go game fad will last, but I know that Christ is eternal, and we will always need Him. Make sure our priorities are put in the right places with Christ first.