Pokemon Go: a modern day well

By September 19, 2016

USA (MNN) — Pokemon Go is still monopolizing college students’ phones. And as students arrive on their campuses, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is creatively using the app as outreach.

What’s Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go works by leading players through a GPS-like system to physical places where they can catch Pokemon. It’s essentially a game overlaying a map app with a Pokemon world. But it’s getting people out and traveling to different places and spaces.

InterVarsity’s Ministry in Digital Spaces Director Bret Staudt Willet explains, “Lures are a way of gathering more Pokemon to a certain area. And on your phone, you can see on a map where there are lures out, and so where more Pokemon might gather,” Willet explains.

“InterVarsity staff and students and, honestly, lots of business at this point are putting lures out. And [they’re] then noticing there’s an increase in foot traffic…”

As students intentionally wander to different parts of campus to catch Pokemon, they’re meeting new people. Pokemon Go has given them a common interest to build relationships and invite individuals to Bible studies or InterVarsity chapters.

A New Well

In a way, these meetings are biblical.

“Honestly, it reminds me of the role of wells in [the Bible]. Wells were this crossroad. They were a gathering point. They were a place where people would go and socially interact,” Willet explains.

“…And it became a very social spot. Then you’ve got great stories like Jesus encountering the Samaritan woman at the well, in the middle of the day and off hours… encountering somebody who was outside of the mainstream.”

Now in the digital age, Pokemon Go has become the college student’s well. And though there aren’t any official statistics out yet on Pokemon Go’s impact on InterVarsity’s campus work, Willet is seeing its affects.

“Maybe two weeks ago, when I was hearing stories night after night where I was hearing people saying, ‘Oh yeah, I went out playing Pokemon Go and I met 10 people,’ you know,” Willet explains. “This [makes] it really easy to break the ice and make connections and ease into conversation.”

Once people joined forces to capture their Pokemon, they’d also begin talking about everyday life leading eventually to even deeper conversations.

The revolution in campus ministry that Pokemon Go has had is a beautiful example of how God meets people right where they’re at because He loves us.

Just as Paul wandered into Greek marketplaces to debate the one true God against the Greeks’ numerous gods, so are people meeting with Pokemon Go and introducing their classmates to Jesus Christ and His incredible love.

How to Help

So pray for Pokemon Go’s role in InterVarsity’s campus ministries, that students would continue to meet each other and build meaningful relationships.

Pray further for these relationships, for their depth and sincerity, and that through them many students would tangibly meet Christ and come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.

Also, pray for the staff working on college campuses. InterVarsity staff have to raise 100 percent of their funds to serve on campus.

If campus ministry is on your heart, would you consider giving to InterVarsity to keep staff on campus in guiding young Christians in discipleship and sharing the Gospel?

To donate to InterVarsity for campus ministry, click here!

Find an InterVarisy chapter here!

To learn more about InterVarsity’s Ministry in Digital Spaces, click here!

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