Catholic Church Launches “Follow JC Go,” Their Version of Pokémon Go

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The Catholic Church is serious about connecting with Generation Z. How serious? They’ve launched an app that has been likened to Pokémon Go.

It’s called “Follow JC Go.”

Alyssa Newcomb of NBC News reports:

The game was created by Fundación Ramón Pané, a nonprofit focused on evangelization. It’s being used to promote the church’s World Youth Day, which takes place in Panama on Jan. 22-29, 2019. . .

Instead of catching a Pikachu or hundreds of other types of Pokemon cartoon characters, players in “Follow JC Go” encounter saints and other biblical figures while they’re walking through the city. Players will be presented with trivia questions they’ll have to answer to add to their evangelization team, which the game calls the eTeam.

Here is the promotional video for the app, which features a few images from the game.

Christian content that follows secular ideas often elicit only eye rolls as cheaper rip-off tools. And while app development isn’t cheap or easy, but this is a brilliant idea. “Follow JC Go” is spiritually formative, communal, and educational. It involves the physical body and the Body of Christ. Part of the game requires exploration, but it also tests the mind. Parts of the game test your knowledge of Catholic history and doctrine. That’s cool, and it is encased within a vessel that is familiar to Gen Zers: the video game, on the smart phone, in an app.

At present the game is only available in Spanish, but an English version is forthcoming. And while the reviews aren’t smashing, the idea is stellar.

Are there comparable examples that have been developed by other churches or denominations of Christianity? In the United States, the closest comparison I can think of is YouVersion, the popular Bible app developed by those at LifeChurch in Oklahoma. But YouVersion doesn’t have a game component, though it does feature numerous helpful tools for reading the Bible, connecting with others, and studying the text.

Games continue to be an excellent, experiential way to teach important truths. Simulations impart important information, but they also involve the learner in ways that create emotional connection and imaginative exchange through problem solving and critical thinking. Knowledge must be applied.

The Catholic Church has used the occasion of an upcoming youth conclave as a springboard to launch this app. That’s a brilliant means of building a bridge between generations, demonstrating to young people the desire to connect. While it might be a challenge for a local church to develop its own app, perhaps a ministry network or denomination could dedicate resources to their own revolutionary app.