Archives For Phil Cooke

photo-1436377734980-0ee004df570b-1-e1452659614300

Looking at the direction of the culture, the shape of trends, and the current challenges we face, here’s a handful of ideas to look for in 2016. I strongly recommend that you share this with pastors, ministry and nonprofit leaders you know, because from a media perspective, these are the critical areas that I believe we should focus our messages on in the coming year:

People will be looking for deep answers, not just “practical” advice.  The last 20 years has been a time of “practical” teaching in the church. It was based on the assumption (not always wrong) that people needed to look at the Bible for answers to everyday questions. But too many pastors started preaching shallow topics like “The 5 Keys to a Successful Marriage,” “3 Steps to God’s Healing Power,” or “The Secrets of a Better Prayer Life.” Many of those topics may have been helpful, but if you look at the Christian section at a typical bookstore, it doesn’t look much different than the secular self-help section. Our message has become Oprah in a “Christianized” package.

Colleges are getting the same message by the way. After the last 50 years of…

Continue Reading

Recently, at a major CEO conference Lou Holtz, one of the most successful college football coaches in history, shared his insights about success, failure and leadership. His thoughts are worth hearing, and here’s a few powerful moments that stood out for me:

On Vision:

“This is what I believe: You have to have a vision where you want to go. Without a vision you have nothing. You have to have a plan of how you’re going to get there. And you have to lead by example. What holds a country together, what holds a family together, what holds a business together are core values. And core values are something you would not compromise.”

On Mistakes:

“The biggest mistake I see: You have so much success, the expectations get so great that winning is a relief. Losing is a disaster. And so, because of that, they fail to raise the standards. I went to Notre Dame. I took a program on the bottom, we took it to the very top. For nine straight years we went to a Jan. 1 bowl, the Sugar, the Cotton, the Orange, or the Fiesta. We took it on top and we…

Continue Reading

After decades working with churches around the world, I’ve discovered that one of the most difficult challenges pastors face is finding the right “Executive Pastor.” In a significant number of cases, local pastors don’t really understand the role. In my opinion, one of the best XP’s in the country is Mike Buster, Executive Pastor at Prestonwood Church in Plano, Texas. He’s worked with Pastor Jack Graham for 28 years, and they’ve become a remarkable team. In fact, in my opinion, Jack Graham is one of the greatest leaders in the church today, therefore the standards at Prestonwood are high.   So I asked Mike to tell me about the purpose, role, responsibilities, and challenges of being an XP. Here’s what he said:

Phil Cooke:  What’s the purpose of an “Executive Pastor”?

Mike Buster:  The Executive Pastor should know the heart, vision, goals and desires of his pastor. He should have the fortitude and wisdom to take the skeleton vision provided by the pastor and put flesh on it. He is to be a steward of the church’s resources and the pastor’s vision. The XP should be able to see the…

Continue Reading

Now that my friend Brian Houston’s new book “Live Love Lead” is out and being read by plenty of leaders, I thought it was time to ask him some questions. As founding Pastor of Hillsong Church, with locations in at least 15 major cities around the world, his leadership principles have impacted thousands of pastors and ministry leaders. Plus, “Hillsong Music” is the most popular worship label worldwide, and the feature length motion picture “Let Hope Rise” – about their band “Hillsong United” – is in the works. So we had a lot to talk about:

Phil Cooke:  Hillsong seems to be taking off like a rocket these days. You’re continuing to open churches in major cities around the world, the conferences are growing, Hillsong music is exploding, and the feature film “Let Hope Rise” will be released soon. With everything that’s going on, why did you decide to write the new book right now?

Brian Houston:  God’s grace never ceases to amaze me. Last year I turned 60 and celebrated 40 years of ministry – and…

Continue Reading

Bible Museum

Our world is shaped by innovation—the newest iPhone, the latest Netflix show or the most current social media app. It’s hard to imagine a world without these devices, but iPhones have only been around since 2007, unlimited streaming on Netflix came the year after and Facebook is a young company at just eleven years old.

The world before this unlimited access to information now seems archaic, but staring at “devices” all day can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. The bright light of the screen can be more than a little blinding.

Fortunately, there are remedies for this. Increasingly, many American families have employed restraints like digital curfews, no more screen time after, say, 9 PM. Others make a more substantial effort to reconnect with the larger community by joining clubs or leagues.

Museums, however, offer us the best opportunity to shed our often streamlined worldview to better connect with history and understand current events in a way that can impact and shape our lives. While technology has made amazing advances that have changed the way we learn about the world, nothing can come close to the total immersion we can experience at a museum.

In Washington, D. C., considered by some to be the museum capital of…

Continue Reading

imageIf you work on the communications or media team at a church, ministry, or nonprofit, your job is to share the story of your organizations to the local community and sometimes the world.  While a pastor or leader may speak to the local congregation or supporters, your job is to take that message and share it on a much bigger platform.  To do that well, here’s a list of critical things you and your team need to know:

1. Understand the pastor or CEO’s vision.   That’s where your messaging begins.

2. Learn as much as you can about every media position, from graphic designer to video operator.  As a leader, you need to at least have an idea of what each role requires.

3. Ultimately – it’s not about technical equipment – it’s about connecting.   I don’t care how fancy your new software is, the question is, are you using it to connect your message with people?

4. Understand today’s culture.  Communicating a message has changed dramatically in today’s digital world.  Know how to make that change work for you.

5. Learn to work under authority.   If you want to be an independent filmmaker, novelist, or…

Continue Reading

JoltWhen disaster strikes our life, we’re often simply overwhelmed.  As we saw during the 2011 tsunami in Japan, entire towns were wiped off the map, and all these years later, we’re still seeing news reports of problems with the clean up. When a country like that is in chaos, where do we begin when problems happen? Even more important, how do we deal with the “meltdowns” we face in our lives? In my book “Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing” I show you how to weather the storms of change, and actually use it to your advantage. After being fired, going through a divorce, losing a loved one or experiencing other traumatic life events, how do you start over?  Here’s 5 ways to move forward with purpose:

• Realize the time to change is now.  When you’ve hit the wall, or rock bottom, that could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, because it “jolts” you into action. While we never welcome terrible things, they can often help us focus on what really matters and show us the way out.

• Jolt your priorities.  In Japan,…

Continue Reading

When it comes to leadership and influence, we rarely talk about trust. When we do, it’s usually in terms of honesty and integrity. Questions like: “Can I trust you to honor your word?” or “Can you be trusted with finances?” usually come to mind. Those questions are important, but the truth is, trust is a far deeper issue, and when it comes to your team, employees, congregation, or followers, trust may be the single most important connection you can build. To achieve that connection, here’s four principles every leader and influencer should know about trust:

1. Trust doesn’t come easily.  This is the most marketed, sold, pitched to, and promoted generation in history. They’ve grown up around brand names, Super Bowl commercials, and sales pitches. They make judgements about everything they encounter through apps like “Yelp.” That’s why when you tell them your conference will “shake nations” or your new book will “transform the culture” they’re naturally skeptical – and should be. They’re weary of all the hype and have learned to see through it.

2. They stopped trusting early in life.  Half of all American children will witness their parent’s divorce. In…

Continue Reading

OscarsRecently, as I’ve been speaking at conferences and events around the world I’ve been urging Christians to stop looking at Hollywood as the enemy, and start looking at Hollywood as a mission field. After all, what if Christians stopped just criticizing, and actually started praying for the most influential industry in the world? Something amazing might happen. But that’s long been the focus of two very effective ministry organizations based in Hollywood: The Hollywood Prayer Network and Mastermedia International. Now, both organizations are asking churches to do something many would never expect:

On Academy Awards night – February 22nd – have an “Oscar Party” at your church.

Yes – you read that correctly. As Dr. Larry Poland, founder of Mastermedia International stated in a recent email blast:

Would you like to see how God could use you and your church to impact Hollywood for good? To impact media eternally? Well, it could happen through prayer . . . in your church!

What if Hollywood’s biggest day of the year was also your church’s biggest day of prayer . . . for media and entertainment?

What if pastors and congregations and Sunday school…

Continue Reading

Finding your authentic voice in social media isn’t that different from traditional media. I had a client once who was a TV host. The problem was, as soon as the red light came on the camera, he became a completely different person. His voice got deeper. His style became bigger. He was more over the top. The problem was – that wasn’t him. Even his friends would tell him, “Stop using your TV voice.” But many of us do the same thing on social media. We try to project authority, sound more spiritual, or generally be someone we’re not. Remember my age-old branding advice – a brand isn’t about becoming something (or someone) else, it’s about discovering who you really are. So with that in mind – here’s my advice about finding the real you on social media:

1) Don’t say things on social media you wouldn’t say to someone face to face.   I have a friend that suddenly becomes totally “spiritual” on social media. He blurts out cheesy cornball Christian sayings he’d never actually say to anyone face to face. Others become hyper political, or try to be overly inspiring. If…

Continue Reading

TargetIn the book “Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits,” writers Emma Barrett and Paul Martin explore what makes thrill seekers get such a rush from being out on the edge. “Brain imaging studies,” they write “have found that risk seeking behavior is preceded by activity in the region of the brain associated with the anticipation of pleasurable experiences like sex, drug taking, and monetary gain.” In other words, situations that would be terrifying to us, are pleasurable to them. As a result, they don’t understand the kind of fear, insecurity, and intimidation most of us experience. The book is filled with stories of people who have gone beyond what we normally think human beings are capable of, but in their list of attributes of thrill seekers, two things stood out:

Resilience and Single Mindedness.

The biggest reason people who most people would call crazy are still alive is that far from being impulsive or easy to panic, they are actually control freaks.  The writers list many of the keys to their success, including planning and preparation (rehearsing for catastrophe), experience, and methodical thinking. They’re not really risk TAKERS, they’re…

Continue Reading

AttackThere’s no question that the Internet has brought Christianity many wonderful things. Today we have online education available to virtually everyone, social media that encourages people to support great causes, and online communication tools that allow us to connect from the four corners of the earth. But it’s also created something I believe is tearing at the very fabric of our faith. It’s created a culture of attack.

Rarely does a day go by that Christian news sites, social media streams, and other web platforms feature some Christian “correcting” another Christian – and calling them out by name. It can range from arguments over worship music, to theological squabbles, to disagreements over ministry styles, to charges of outright heresy, and the barrage of criticism has grown exponentially. While there are qualified theologians, pastors, and other leaders we should respect and listen to, there’s also a tsunami of armchair theologians, angry ex-church members, and wannabes who are convinced their criticism du jour needs to be shared.

Aside from feeling comfortable “correcting” a brother or sister publicly when we’ve never met the person, or know little about the background of what we’re criticizing, a significant…

Continue Reading