Welcoming people of all ages and backgrounds is one of the missions of Christ United Methodist Church in Plano. Although, they found it a little odd when dozens of children began walking the halls with their faces buried in cell phones a few weeks ago.
“There were kids roaming around the building with their phones out and we had no idea what was going on,” said Executive Pastor Denise Peckham.
Leave it to the children of the church to educate the adults on Pokémon Go, the latest smartphone craze. Only this time, the church played a key role in it all.
“One of our youth came to tell us we had a Poké Spot in the church.”
The church had no clue what that meant and, chances are, not very many people do. But it has made CUMC a popular place during this summer break and Peckham hopes the church can capitalize on an opportunity they never realized they would have.
“We want people to come and feel welcome when they are here and this was an opportunity,” she said.
The game has smashed records for downloads by a mobile app, becoming the fastest to reach the 10 million mark and has now topped 30 million overall. CUMC is one of several churches or businesses trying to take advantage of their designation as a Poké Spot.
While Pokémon Go has made headlines for people getting into trouble while hunting elusive Pokémon characters, CUMC has embraced their new service as a Poké Spot by providing refreshments, places to re-charge phones, and a safe environment for kids as they search the rooms at the church.
“There are people all over campus,” said Associate Pastor Chad McSwain. Even McSwain has taken up collecting them all, thanks to his son Xander, and might help explain what exactly a Poké Stop is and why they are so popular.
“It is an opportunity to test your skills as you gather different Pokémon and then you get to battle more powerful Pokémon.”
Whether it makes any sense or not, CUMC hopes the game gives them a chance to do what they have always tried to do. There are posters throughout the building for the many classes, services, and camps the church offers and they hope one of the newcomers finds something that could help them rather than simply finding animated characters.
“What we hope is someone will see something that could make a difference in their life,” said Peckham.
Lifelong lessons thanks to a gaming craze that may last a matter of weeks.