Archives For Phil Cooke

Being vs Doing

In the Christian community, the last generation of leaders has often been called the “builder generation.” These were men and women who accomplished great things – including founding universities, launching massive media networks, and building ministries with a global outreach. They were great “doers.” The problem was, far too often they weren’t so good at “being.”

Some of those same leaders who accomplished so much for the Kingdom of God were also closet alcoholics, others were absent fathers, many had raging egos, some were tyrants in the workplace, and still others committed adultery and virtually destroyed their families. On the surface, they were remarkable leaders, but inside, they deeply struggled.

Throughout the Bible, it’s interesting that before the Lord calls us to “Do” he calls us to “Be.”

The Scriptures remark about the righteousness of men like Abraham and Noah before it tells the stories of what they accomplished. Certainly they stumbled from time to time – we all do that – but their primary concern wasn’t accomplishment, it was their relationship with God.

I know from my own family experience my father’s generation often found their identity in what they did, rather than…

Continue Reading

Origins of Politics

The thing I love about reading is that you never know where you’ll find creative advice. I was recently reading about the Christian writer and theologian Tatian who was a Syrian who lived in the second century. He was born in Assyria (Mesopotamia), and as an adult he journeyed to Rome, where he first discovered Christianity. He was shocked at the pagan cults he witnessed throughout the city and as a result, began reflecting on religious issues. During his investigation, he read the Old Testament, and the more he read, the more he realized just how unreasonable paganism was. As a result, he decided to become a Christian.

In reading Tatian’s Address to the Greeks, written about AD 170, the story of his conversion was so compelling, that I immediately thought it a model for how we can engage the secular culture of today – 2,000 years after Tatian. Here’s his story:

“I withdrew myself and sought best how to discover the truth. While I was earnestly employed in this matter, I happened to light upon certain ‘barbaric’ (i.e., non-Greek) writings, too old to be compared with the opinions of the…

Continue Reading

Website

The world of website development has come so far that there’s very little you can’t do online these days. But in spite of the progress – including easy to build websites – churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations still struggle getting their websites to accomplish their goals. Sometimes it’s an expectation problem (because after all, they don’t teach website development in seminary or Bible college) and sometimes it’s a lack of good advice. Either way, I decided to create a baseline list of what your website should be able to do. And if it doesn’t, you need to have a serious talk with your in-house webmaster or your outside vendor.

1) Your website should work. Sure there are times when sites or servers have issues, but they should be few and far between. If your site malfunctions on a regular basis, something is wrong. Don’t allow your webmaster or outside vendor to make excuses. If they can’t get it running smoothly on a regular basis, it’s time to look for another vendor.

2) You should be able to manage it in-house. With the exception of major design or technical changes,…

Continue Reading

AdobeStock_110457552 Small

When it comes to a “profile” or “bio” on social media, most people just have fun with it. That’s okay, but if you want to be an influencer, get noticed, or grow your followers, a more creative and strategic profile can give you a big boost.  Here are the three most important areas most people need to fix:

1) Your Photo: What’s the image you want to project to the world? It’s not about egomania, it’s about perception. Your social media profile photo is something people will see over and over again – perhaps thousands of times. So make it something you want burned into their memory.

Photos are an important part of great visual design, so every time you post a photo on a profile, make it count.

2) The Link: What’s the most important and authoritative website that tells your story? Do you have a blog? A general website? If not, perhaps it’s your Facebook page. In some cases, you may want to use the link to your company, church, nonprofit – particularly if…

Continue Reading

City

Lifeway Research recently polled thousands of nonbelievers about what it would take to get them inside a church. When I thought about it, the results made perfect sense, but most church leaders never consider these possibilities. The survey focused on Americans who do not attend church, and here’s what they said would draw them into one:

62% – a meeting about neighborhood safety
51% – a community service event
46% – a sports or exercise program
45% – a concert
45% – a neighborhood get-together
35% – a worship service

Notice that only 35% of nonbelievers responded with a worship service.  Pastor Tony Miller at The Gate Church in Oklahoma City was already thinking this way. Because of his personal passion for unity, and as a result of the recent racial issues in cities across the country, Tony held a Forum for Transformative Cultural Reform at his church. He invited local politicians, the police chief, the superintendent of schools, an Imam from a local mosque, a Jewish rabbi, the president of the local NAACP, the executive director of Black Lives Matter, the vice president in charge of diversity at the university,…

Continue Reading

hp2mpjt5b6

I find it fascinating that many people who handle social media for very large churches and ministries find it difficult to share their faith on their personal social media platforms. And others do it in an incredibly obnoxious way. Every new technology gives us another possibility for telling the greatest story ever told, but we have to do it with honesty and sincerity.

Krysta Masciale, CEO of Big Deal Branding puts it this way: “For me, it’s important that I share as much on social media as I would in person. Since I don’t speak about my faith until I’ve gained trust and been given permission to do so in a relationship, I use that same philosophy with my social media accounts. Also, know your audience. If Christians follow you and are expecting spiritual insights, give it to them. If not, be aware that you’re building a relationship, not trying to sell a car.”

Krysta is exactly right. So I asked Kristen Tarsiuk, Creative Director + Community Pastor at Liberty Church Brooklyn to give us some suggestions about sharing our faith without screwing up the message. Here are her…

Continue Reading

_MG_0038

Whenever I visit local churches, most of the time I’m faced with a frustrated local media producer who’s at his or her wit’s end. They’re usually good producers, often with extensive experience, plus a real calling to use media to take the Gospel to the culture. But in nearly every case, he or she is either burned out, upset, or ready to quit.  Ninety percent of the time, I get the same response – “The pastor just doesn’t have a vision for media – especially television.” It also comes in numerous other laments, such as “Every time I try something new, the pastor hates it.” Or the tried and true: “The pastor just doesn’t get it – he doesn’t even watch TV himself, so he doesn’t understand how to use it as a tool to reach the community,” and last but certainly not least: “I’ve never had the budget I really needed.”

In the words of a former President: “I feel your pain.” I’ve worked with enough pastors, evangelists, and ministry leaders over the last three decades to know the…

Continue Reading

IMG_7268

There’s lots of media talk about the British government being in “chaos” as a result of the “Brexit” vote. There’s a lot of exaggeration there – after all, the media is about sensationalism, since that’s what sells newspapers and media advertising. But there’s no question that many companies, churches, and nonprofit organizations experience times of chaos, and many times over the years, I’ve been asked to consult during these catastrophes.

During those times, I’ve helped them navigate through the storm. So the question becomes, how should leaders react when things fall apart? When everything breaks loose, what’s the best approach for righting the ship and getting the organization moving forward again? While each story involves complexity and time, here’s my suggestions from the start (and feel free to pass this along to our British friends):

1) The best leaders understand the business.  During times of crisis, everyone will step up with “advice,” and many of those ideas will be crazy. The best way to navigate the overwhelming tide of outside opinions and ideas is to know the business well. Know your team, and…

Continue Reading

I’ve been involved in a great many organizations transitioning to next generation leadership, and the issue of “legacy” always comes up. How should the founder be remembered? When should the founder let go? The Billy Graham organization asked some of those questions when they designed their library and museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Many nonprofit and ministry organizations are making that transition right now, and when it comes to the hand-off, here are some thoughts:

1) It’s never too early to start. If the founder has reached his or her late fifties or sixties, it’s time to start thinking about legacy. At that age, the slightest health problem could derail their work, so we need a backup plan. Especially if you’ve built a major church, ministry, or non-profit, we need to start thinking about a successor. The succession doesn’t need to happen right away, but you need a solid plan. I know major ministry leaders who died unexpectedly, which made for some serious scrambling by their organizations.  So don’t be caught off guard.

2) The line, “Success without a successor is failure” is a myth. The fact is, not every organization is meant to extend to…

Continue Reading

Shouting

When it comes to engaging in public policy and challenging today’s culture, one of the least likely strategies is one built around criticism. The growing number of churches and ministries that are constantly “against something” has always been a disturbing trend. On a regular basis, I see an avalanche of direct mail campaigns and magazine articles by organizations upset about the latest movie, court decision, TV show, cartoon series, or mad at the homosexual community or some other special interest group.

But while a healthy debate is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy, the truth is, just being critical changes very little.  After all, as Christians, we of all people should be known as being for something. We have the greatest story in the world, but instead of focusing on that story, we continually get distracted by turning our focus on issues peripheral to our real calling.

Yes – many of these issues are important. Christians are American citizens, with every right to vote our conscience and speak in the public square. It’s one of the reasons I support My Faith Votes. We also have the right to campaign against candidates or issues…

Continue Reading

Clutter

I have a friend who’s life is defined by “busy.” He doesn’t really accomplish much, and I think that’s why he’s embraced an identity of always being busy.  He can’t talk without complaining how busy he is, he starts most of his emails with “I’ve been so busy recently that…,” and he never seems to have time to read a book, reflect, or think. It’s another symptom of this disrupted culture we live in. So if you occasionally feel overwhelmed and can’t really define why, here’s a few new rules for living in the constant “on” culture:

1) Turn off your computer and mobile device notifications.  Every app these days wants to be able to notify you of discounts and special deals. I looked at my wife’s phone recently and she had 22 apps that all had notifications turned on. It was pinging all day long. And that’s not counting email, text, and social media notifications. Just turn them off. Do you really need to know the moment a person responds to your Twitter post? Do you need to be alerted the exact second every email arrives? Talk about overkill. Let it rest.

2) Schedule 2-3…

Continue Reading

Money

Some time ago, I received a call from The New York Times. The reporter was curious if I knew of any pastors or ministry leaders who were changing their tune because the economy wasn’t going so well. That call reminded me how much the world looks at our message as adaptable, changeable, and flexible. When it comes to those pesky issues like absolute truth, can’t we just change God’s principles to accommodate a changing culture, financial problems, or difficult circumstances?

So if you’re facing financial challenges with your organization, here are some suggestions:

1) Be Confident in the Validity of Your Message.  If you really feel God has given you a message for this generation, outside circumstances shouldn’t impact the essential truth of that message. In other words, don’t pull back on your core message – in fact, it probably should be stronger than ever. You can re-think the way we package the message, or how you present it, but don’t pull back from the message itself. Be confident in your calling, and bold in your message. You have this platform because your voice matters. Don’t allow fear to hold you back.

2) Keep…

Continue Reading