A Preston vicar says he can see “no harm” in using Pokemon Go to attract young people after Anglican churches were urged to welcome the game’s players.
The gaming phenomenon which has swept the globe has seen gamers roaming the streets of Lancashire in search for virtual Pokemon characters with several churches designated as Pokestops, which players visit to collect items during the game.
And Reverend Brian McConkey of Christ Church on Victoria Road, Fulwood says he’s aware of how popular the game is and sees no reason why churches couldn’t use it to interact with the younger generation.
“I haven’t been drawn into it myself but I like to think most of these kind of things are good,” he said. “I see lots of people playing the game around the streets and if the game brings them around the church then we’re always happy to talk with them.”
The craze gives the church an unprecedented chance to “meet people from their area who might not normally come to church”, according to advice put out by Church of England officials.
Vicars are urged to take advantage of passing players by offering them drinks and snacks, a place to charge mobiles, and free use of their church’s wi-fi. They have also been told they should download the game themselves, so they can check if their church is in use as a PokeStop likely to attract players.
Church communities have also been encouraged to place welcome signs outside and hold so-called “Pokeparties” for players.
“I haven’t been asked for wi-fi yet and I don’t know of any churches offering food but I think like many other games it will be popular fro six months then die off,” Rev McConkey said. “The church isn’t very busy around this time of year because lots of the groups have finished so it might be something we look at after September because we’re always looking at ways to engage with younger people.”
The CofE’s response comes against a background of recent figures showing the remorseless decline of its congregations with the number of people attending Sunday congregations slipped to just over 750,000.