In July 2016, a new mobile game took the gaming community by storm. Pokémon Go launched, and quickly became a huge hit. Those who invested in Nintendo stock saw an immediate and significant increase in the value of their shares. Communities were invaded by Pokémon with names like Eevee, Squirtle, Snorlax, and Pikachu. People all across the country began chasing Pokémon in an effort to “catch ’em all.”
As I’ve watched the game evolve over the past weeks and as I’ve spoken to quite a few of the players of the game, I have discovered a significant parallel between the aspects of the game and a biblical view of what the church SHOULD be. Here are just four things that the church can learn from Pokémon Go.
1. INTENTIONALITY – Pokémon Go is very intentional in what it is creating. From the beginning of the game, you see the goals very clearly: capture Pokémon, get items from Poké stops, and control gyms by defeating opponents from rival teams.
The church could benefit from clear goals and direction. Too often, we find ourselves totally involved in the busy-ness of the church, keeping up the existing programs and ministries. What could happen in our churches if we began to intentionally put a design and structure behind everything that we do? What could happen if our people would have a clear path to discipleship that they can follow, step-by-step, instead of just leaving it to attending a Sunday School class, small group, or church service?
2. COMMUNITY – Pokémon Go has developed in own community. In speaking with the players of the game, it becomes clear that the game has created its own community of players. People who have never met before are spending time getting together playing the game, walking from place to place in search of Pokémon, and even setting up parties for groups to meet and get to know each other. Strangers are becoming friends by simply playing a game.
God created the church to be a community of believers gathering together to change this world. Community is a significant part of God’s design for the church. Is it possible that a game is creating a secular community on a level that the Christian church has not been able to accomplish. Perhaps, we need to think long and hard about what we can do to create this type of community withing the church.
3. TEAM WORK – Pokémon Go has highly developed team work. Players must choose one of three teams to which they belong. As teams, your goal is to control a gym filled with your Pokémon and hold it against attack from the other teams. By design, one person cannot hold a gym since you cannot place more than one of your Pokémon on the gym. To have a stronger gym, you must work together with other teammates.
In the church, we recognize that team work is a part of God’s design. As individuals, we are given specific spiritual gifts to be used alongside other Christians for the purpose of accomplishing God’s mission for the church. Do we intentionally create avenues for people to discover their gifts and serve in ministry? Is there a clear path for training and opportunities to try different ministries based upon our gift mix?
4. MISSION – Pokémon Go has given people a mission to accomplish – work together to make your team the best it can be by leveling up, catching more Pokémon and controlling the local gyms.
The church has been given the greatest mission on earth – to make disciples of Jesus Christ. If a game can provide a sense of mission to its players, cannot the church learn to work together to accomplish the greatest mission for which you and I were created?
A simple game has provided the church an opportunity to look closely at what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we are doing it. Take a moment to look at your church: Are you, as a leader, providing an environment of intentionality, community, teamwork, and mission? If not, what are you going to do about changing that today?