fbpx

Episode 2- How Has the Role of a Church Communicator Changed Over the Past Year with Phil Cooke

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email
Tune in today to hear Katie Allred speak with Phil Cooke on his view of how the role of a church communicator has changed.

 

Transcript:

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Church Communications podcast. We want to help you become a church communications expert. We understand it can be a challenging and ever-changing role because we’ve worked in the church too, which is why we built a community with over 25,000 church leaders that are ready to support and cheer you on. Your hosts for the show are Katie Allred and Kenny Jahng, who want to help equip you to reach more of your congregation and community. This is the place where we’ll talk shop with fellow practitioners and professionals. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Katie Allred:

Welcome back to Church Communications. I am so excited to have Phil Cook, author, influencer, just all-around awesome guy. I’m really excited. He’s got his book, Maximize Your Influence, and I’m really excited to be just chatting with him today about what he’s doing. So thanks, Phil, for joining us.

Phil Cooke:

Hey, I’m thrilled to be here. This is fun. This is fun. I’ve been watching you from afar for a long time.

Katie Allred:

Oh my gosh.

Phil Cooke:

You’ve been doing some amazing things with the group on Facebook.

Katie Allred:

Oh. Well, thank you.

Phil Cooke:

And so I just thought, “Let’s do it.”

Katie Allred:

Yeah. Well, it was really fun. I know you’d reached out to me, and we like passed like ships in the night last time we got together. So thank you for doing this. I appreciate it. I love the work that you do to help churches with their digital work. And it’s so important, so thank you for what you’re doing.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, it is. Yeah.

Katie Allred:

Yeah. Okay. So I’m going to start with my first question. Your work allows you to interact and hear from tons of church communicators. How has the role and responsibility of a church comm person shifted or changed over the past year from your point of view?

Phil Cooke:

Because of the COVID lockdown?

Katie Allred:

Yeah, because from COVID, yeah.

Phil Cooke:

Well, first of all, they were incredibly exhausted the first three months of the shutdown.

Katie Allred:

Right. Still are.

Phil Cooke:

Most pastors were blindsided by this whole thing. And I saw everything from pastors live streaming with an iPhone taped to a 2×4 to a full-on video with multiple cameras. And so, it was the communication team and the media team that really did the work that made it play. I mean, there are churches-

Katie Allred:

They suddenly became invaluable. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Well, if nothing else, I think the COVID-19 virus taught pastors and church leaders the importance of communication immediately. A lot of them … I would have pastors tell me, “Well, Phil, I don’t mind live streaming my service, but that’s not real.”

Katie Allred:

But that’s not church.

Phil Cooke:

Not real-

Katie Allred:

I know.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:02:12] Right?

Katie Allred:

Right?

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:02:12].

Phil Cooke:

Let me tell you-

Katie Allred:

Oh, that would drive me nuts. I’d be like, “Oh, guys.”

Phil Cooke:

Yeah. They’ve totally changed their tune now. And it was church media people and communications people that made that happen. And so, I know they were … I’ve been telling pastors, “Look, give you guys a break. Let them rest. This last year has been incredibly tough on them.” So I think it elevated them, number one, in the eyes of church leadership.

Katie Allred:

For sure.

Phil Cooke:

Many pastors realized just how important they are. But I think, two, it gave even church communication people a new perspective on how people would respond to live streaming.

Katie Allred:

Yeah, right.

Phil Cooke:

Even we work with churches that have been live streaming for years and years and years, and some are extremely successful at it. But even then, I think this opened up a lot of eyes to the power of how many people were willing to connect. I’ve had churches of 900 people call me and say, “We’re getting 30, 40,000 people a week watching our live stream.” And one pastor told me, “I’m embarrassed to say this because I’m a pastor, but I’m kind of sorry to go back to the building. We’re ministering to more people now than we were-”

Katie Allred:

Yeah, than we’ve ever done.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah.

Katie Allred:

It was just … First off, it’s crazy, but also I-

Phil Cooke:

It is.

Katie Allred:

I totally believe it. It’s not unbelievable. I mean, because I’m like … I wish … I don’t know if you know anything about my story, and this is a little much, but back in 1999, I started a Harry Potter forum.

Phil Cooke:

Interesting.

Katie Allred:

I was nine years old in ’99, and I was a perfect millennial. I’m like a 1989 Taylor Swift baby.

Phil Cooke:

Uh-huh (affirmative), okay.

Katie Allred:

Okay? So ’99, I started this Harry Potter forum with some friends I met on the internet. I was every parent’s worst nightmare. Yeah. But through that Harry Potter forum, we grew to 10,000 at first. We won an award from J.K. Rowling. So it wasn’t like-

Phil Cooke:

That’s pretty cool.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:03:56] Yes! Amazing.

Katie Allred:

But what’s really crazy is that I shared the … I like to say I shared the gospel intentionally and completely on accident-

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:04:04].

Phil Cooke:

That’s funny. That’s great.

Katie Allred:

But I knew that I loved Jesus and I loved technology. And I was like, “Somewhere we can make …”

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:04:14] yeah. I was like, “Why can’t we have … I have this amazing community that I feel really connected to online.” I was like, “These people need the gospel, and there’s nobody here besides me that-”

Phil Cooke:

True. That’s true. That’s true.

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:04:28] “where are the Christians here to help be kind and spread love?” Which I think is why we make great online forums [inaudible 00:04:38].

Phil Cooke:

True! That’s true. Too, pastors will say, “Well, that online business is not real fellowship. They need to be in the building.”

Katie Allred:

I know. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Let me tell you, anybody under 40 today, fellowship is online. They get it. You don’t have to be physically together to have a relationship anymore.

Katie Allred:

And to have a good relationship.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah.

Katie Allred:

That’s crazy. Okay. So, my business partner I was telling you about, Kenny-

Phil Cooke:

Sure.

Katie Allred:

So Kenny and I have met nine times in person, and we’ve been in business for four years.

Phil Cooke:

And you’re business partners. Wow!

Katie Allred:

And we’ve met nine times in person.

Phil Cooke:

That’s pretty funny. Yeah.

Katie Allred:

I mean, we hang out online, obviously 24-7. We’re on Zoom and on phone calls, but we’re best friends. I don’t think I have another closer friend. And so it’s just funny because people think, “Yeah, online community can’t happen.” But I’m like, “No, I’ve been a part of DJ Soda’s movement or the VR church and been a part of some really interesting spaces where people are creating church in Facebook groups.” And I’m like, “There is more to this than meets the eye. And so, I like-

Phil Cooke:

That’s actually true.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:05:38] Yeah. Right. And before the shutdown, when people started remote working, we didn’t even think about it because we’ve been remote working for 10, 15 years. We’ve got a team member. We’re in LA. We’ve got a team member in Kansas City, another one in Tulsa.

Katie Allred:

So you just kept doing what you were doing.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, we just kept doing what we were doing, so it was no big deal for us. So I think the church is just getting to speed on where the culture has been for a while, which I think is good.

Katie Allred:

Right, yeah. Okay. So my next question: in your recent book, Maximizing Your Influence, you talk through how pastors and churches can use digital going forward. Where does the website exactly fit into a comprehensive? We have a website summit going up, which is why I’m asking this question.

Phil Cooke:

Woo hoo!. Let’s talk about it. Okay?

Katie Allred:

Where does the website fit into a comprehensive digital strategy today?

Phil Cooke:

Let me tell you, social media, when that came along, it became so powerful and generated so much momentum, people forgot about their website, totally forgot about it.

Katie Allred:

Right. Yeah, and they said, “I’ll just use my Facebook page as my website.”

Phil Cooke:

Exactly. But what we discovered during the live streaming during the shutdown was that you will probably get more people watching your live stream on YouTube or Facebook, but they will stay engaged longer and more seriously if they’re on your website. So one of our clients has written the YouVersion Bible app. I know the Life Church team really well. I interviewed their senior director of digital strategies-

Katie Allred:

Yeah, I’ve worked with them.

Phil Cooke:

… just the other day. And they created that church online program that people can download for free. And so we started tracking it, and we discovered that the people that will come to your website, not only will they be exposed to all your other stuff that you’re doing-

Katie Allred:

Right, of course.

Phil Cooke:

… but they’ll stay longer. And I don’t know fully why, but they will engage and stay longer. So I think there’s a lot of reasons that your website should be the hub for everything you do.

Katie Allred:

Yeah. Okay. So is the website for the attendee, or is it for the guest?

Phil Cooke:

Oh, totally for the guest, 100% for the guest. Yeah, I mean, trust me, your church members know where the church is. They know who the pastor is. They know what time you’re meeting. They know when the-

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:07:27]

Katie Allred:

They probably know when the events are. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Exactly.

Katie Allred:

They’re getting all that.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, they’re getting all of that. Your church members never-

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:07:32].

Katie Allred:

Right.

Phil Cooke:

So I have churches that they’ve completely rethought that, and they have 100% of their design has gone into … we want to be for somebody who’s never darkened the door of our church, ever.

Katie Allred:

Right, because they looked at their analytics and found-

Phil Cooke:

Yes.

Katie Allred:

I mean, it’s so funny. I actually asked our group a couple of years ago before COVID, I asked them, I said, “When you go and look at your analytics right now, your Google analytics, will you tell me how many people are new versus returning?”

Phil Cooke:

That’s good.

Katie Allred:

And I will tell you it was the 80/20 rule.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, I believe it.

Katie Allred:

I mean, 80% were new, 20% were returning. And then I said, “What does that tell you? It tells you that new people were looking at your website every single day, and they’re not coming to church. Why? What on your website-”

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, what are you not doing on that website to really encourage them to come?

Katie Allred:

Right? Is it providing them directions? Are they hidden? Is your address not apparent? Is there a maze to figure out how your kids get involved? And two, something that I’ve had a personal vendetta for many years about, there’s that-

Phil Cooke:

We’re here for therapy, so share, just-

Katie Allred:

Thank you.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:08:42] just share.

Katie Allred:

Thank you, though. I appreciate it. So, Jesus, you can’t find Jesus on a website, on a church website.

Phil Cooke:

That’s true.

Katie Allred:

Think about it. Go to a local church website today, just find … word Dallas rings out. They’re the first not to-

Phil Cooke:

Interesting.

Katie Allred:

I don’t know, they might be better. Find a website, a first Baptist website, and just look and see if you can just find the word Jesus and who Jesus is and who he was, and the plan of salvation. Tell me if you can find it because I’m telling you-

Phil Cooke:

Be they’re assuming everybody already knows.

Katie Allred:

They do because you’re coming to the church website. But here’s the thing, Google prefers a local answer. Right?

Phil Cooke:

That’s true, absolutely true.

Katie Allred:

If you Google prayer, Google would prefer to send you-

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, nearby.

Katie Allred:

Yeah. They would prefer to send you to a local authority on prayer. However, Muslims, I’m telling you, when I searched for prayer in my local area, I’ve only found the Muslim call to prayer. I don’t find information about prayer. If I Google prayer in Mobile, Alabama, it’s going to be about Muslim call to prayer. There is no local authority on it.

Phil Cooke:

The Arab world and the Arab community gets media a-

Katie Allred:

A different way.

Phil Cooke:

… in a different way. They totally get it.

Katie Allred:

You’re right.

Phil Cooke:

And I’ll say one thing about church websites, too, that’s my pet peeve. When the church shutdown happened, I started watching different churches live stream. Every Sunday, I’d go on, and I’d tap into 6, 8, 10 live streams just to see what different churches were doing. One of my most frustrating things was how hard it was to find the freaking live stream. I mean, this is the most important thing you’re doing right now. You can’t meet. The live stream is everything.

Katie Allred:

It should be the first thing on your website, especially on a Sunday morning.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, I had to click, click, click, click, click to find it.

Katie Allred:

yeah, and it shouldn’t be more than two clicks to get to the live stream.

Phil Cooke:

Never. I mean, my thing is grease the skids. Whatever you want people to do, make it obvious.

Katie Allred:

Right, however you can make it easier, even if it’s on the homepage. There are ways. There are so many tools now that will literally let you schedule a module that will pop up-

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, pop up.

Katie Allred:

… at a certain time. There’s so much stuff that I’m like, “Why are we not using this?”

Phil Cooke:

That’s really good.

Katie Allred:

Right?

Phil Cooke:

Yeah.

Katie Allred:

There’s ways to do it. The church just hasn’t caught up.

Phil Cooke:

Don’t make it hard for people. And the other thing too is that we’ve got to have a mindset now of, it’s not how we want to reach them. It’s that they want to reach out.

Katie Allred:

Exactly.

Phil Cooke:

Which means we’ve got to get on the platforms they’re on. We’ve got to be there when they want to be on there. So many times, churches think, “Well, this is what we’re going to do.” Forget that. It’s what they want to do.

Katie Allred:

Exactly.

Phil Cooke:

What you-

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:11:06] be here.

Katie Allred:

Jesus told us to go into the world, not let the world come to us.

Phil Cooke:

That’s right?

Katie Allred:

Well, now we’re building-

Phil Cooke:

They’re not going to come to us.

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:11:12] surely they’ll come to us eventually. Right?

Phil Cooke:

A few maybe will stumble in, but no, that’s not going to happen.

Katie Allred:

Right, yes, to our amazing events and programs.

Phil Cooke:

Sure. Yeah, oh, man.

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:11:21] to realize there’s a place for that. There is, you think. I’ve been to many and attended many of the driven churches. But at the same time, the church, at this time, at this point in time, is uniquely positioned to provide community-

Phil Cooke:

Absolutely.

Katie Allred:

… in such an amazing way that, if they could figure it out, they could crack the code of creating online community and driving those things to grow community. I just think the opportunities are-

Phil Cooke:

Well, I’m an L.A. guy, so I go to Laker games. And so, whether I’m in the stadium, or whether I’m watching it on TV, I want a very similar experience. And so we need to think of that hybrid experience of church, whether they’re watching online, whether they show up live in the church sanctuary, wherever. We need to figure out how do we make any experience someone has with our church almost identical. We can’t make it totally identical, obviously. But how do we make it so that they immediately know what-

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:12:21] this church is, what it’s about, what the experience is like. That hybrid concept, I would love to get across to more and more churches.

Katie Allred:

Yeah. And that church is not just a live stream.

Phil Cooke:

That’s totally true.

Katie Allred:

The online church is not just a live stream. You’ve got to figure out how to create more, many-to-many connections. It’s not one-to-many or even one-to-one. I think a lot of the think of their preaching if they’re doing a live stream and they’re preaching to their congregation in their houses, but how can you start churches and community?

Phil Cooke:

It is.

Katie Allred:

I mean, yes, we come to be taught, but at the same time, we really come, I really come to church for the fellowship after church. But how can we create that in that space is, I think, the next question we’ve got to answer.

Phil Cooke:

We’ve got to answer that. It’s a great point. Well, it’s funny that you mentioned my book. The reason I wrote it is because the church shut down really started, and I started to realize pastors, they don’t teach pastors this in seminary. You don’t have communications and media classes in seminary. What are they going to do, and particularly as we emerge, as we come out, what are we going to do differently?

Phil Cooke:

And so I wrote it really to be a reference book for pastors and ministry leaders to understand, okay, how do we deal with this? How do we engage this digital generation? In my book, the way you preach to a digital generation is different, the way you do everything. It’s changed everything. And so, I just think we have to understand how to think that way. What we call design thinking that was so popular for a while, it’s almost the same when it comes to digital thinking. How do we engage with people in the digital realm? It’s a different big world.

Katie Allred:

It’s a totally different space, and you can create culture there too. I think that’s where people think, “I just put it out there into the void-”

Phil Cooke:

Oh, brother.

Katie Allred:

… “and we hope that it works,” or whatever. There’s some strategy.

Phil Cooke:

Well, if I out a scripture out there with a picture of my pasture-

Katie Allred:

Of a bald eagle.

Phil Cooke:

That works too.

Katie Allred:

That’s exactly … I always think we’re all fly on the wings like eagles, and it’s just a picture of an eagle. And you’re like, “That’s not.”

Phil Cooke:

I tell people if I see one more scripture of today’s the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and people-

Katie Allred:

Right.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:14:26] I’ll blow my brains out.

Katie Allred:

Or like, do not worry, don’t have anxiety.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah. I like scripture, and I’m all for it.

Katie Allred:

Me too.

Phil Cooke:

However, that’s not how you necessarily engage with people.

Katie Allred:

Do it better.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, do it better.

Katie Allred:

Just a little bit more work, and you would do so much better. You would get what you’re looking for, the engagement that you’re looking for. If you would just explain scripture, if you would take a minute and do a selfie video explaining-

Phil Cooke:

There you go, yeah.

Katie Allred:

Right? Explaining the scripture and what it means to you, and I guarantee you that will perform.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, man.

Katie Allred:

But people, they don’t want to do it.

Phil Cooke:

You get me worked up here. This is-

Katie Allred:

It’s good.

Phil Cooke:

… important stuff.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:15:00] It drives me nuts.

Katie Allred:

Okay. So I believe the sales of your book support your ministry, Influence Lab.

Phil Cooke:

Well, yeah. It’s funny because our company, Cooke Media Group, is a for-profit company, we don’t make one, but it’s a for-product company. But we’ve worked for years and years, but we started getting so many requests from Christians internationally about how to use social media.

Phil Cooke:

For instance, a couple of years ago, we got a call from a major church in Cairo, Egypt who said, “Could you send a screenwriter, an acting teacher, a social media instructor, and a producer, a filmmaker over here for a week to teach our team because they’re producing 80 hours a month of Christian programming that beams into the Muslim world?”

Katie Allred:

Oh, that’s awesome.

Phil Cooke:

And so, we get so many requests, and we were paying for it out of our pocket and trying to make it work. So we launched a non-profit called the Influence Lab. And the book, you can go to influencematters.com, and you can order a copy of the book for a donation to the Influence Lab. Because Christians … I’ll tell you this. This is important, Katie. Christians overseas get it. They get media.

Katie Allred:

They do.

Phil Cooke:

They really do.

Katie Allred:

Yeah, I was just telling your wife that I did some work in India in January of 2020. I was working with a ministry in India that was launching a podcast, the first podcast in these two Indian languages. And by July … They launched this podcast in May, and by July, they had already had 300 conversions, like 300.

Phil Cooke:

Awesome.

Katie Allred:

Yeah. They had like over a thousand conversations because of this podcast, but 300 people came to Christ.

Phil Cooke:

That’s unbelievable.

Katie Allred:

And they get it, though. They get it in a very unique way, like the digital strategy part of it too. And they want to use it.

Phil Cooke:

They do. And I mean, we’ve filmed in probably 70 countries around the world, and I have yet to go to a place where people don’t have a cellphone. Everybody’s got them.

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:16:52] And we were in the middle of India, and you are not expecting, and you’ve got the best cell service you’ve ever seen.

Phil Cooke:

A Maasai warrior in the heart to the African bush. Actually, I saw a statistic the other day that said a Maasai warrior in the heart of the African bush with a cellphone, and they all have them because I filmed them, they have access to more information today than the president of the United States did just 25 years ago.

Katie Allred:

Which is wild.

Phil Cooke:

It’s amazing. That’s amazing when you think about it.

Katie Allred:

And the fact that day by day, every single day, the more the internet goes forward, and it’s more accepted, it’s the more that we can get the gospel out.

Phil Cooke:

Totally, totally.

Katie Allred:

I think it can go hand in hand. We should rejoice when the internet gets to a foreign land. It’s always like we can get to a foreign land. Yeah, you probably could have gotten into it before.

Phil Cooke:

I had a meeting this morning with a guy that produces content for Iran. And he said, “I can’t hold a crusade over there. We can’t go to a church over there. We can’t have an open-air meeting. But I got the media, that I can get in.” And he said, “I can get the gospel in there.” So overseas Christians really get it. I think. And also, they take it more seriously because they know the stakes are high. And sometimes they’ll be-

Katie Allred:

Totally different, yeah. It’s totally different.

Phil Cooke:

We don’t take it very seriously, at least the potential. I think it’s a good point. How we doing?

Katie Allred:

We’re doing great. How are you doing?

Phil Cooke:

Oh, I’m having a great time. This is fun.

Katie Allred:

Okay. In our church communications Facebook group, we have over 29,000 leaders, which is crazy.

Phil Cooke:

That’s amazing. It’s amazing. You’ve done a brilliant job with that.

Katie Allred:

Oh my gosh. Thank you. It’s wild. If you were told me … I thought I was going to find 50 people who would just want to complain about making a bulletin every week, which, I would have been into that. But to find nearly 30,000 people-

Phil Cooke:

Unbelievable.

Katie Allred:

Which we’ll probably, I mean, we’ll definitely go over 30,000 by the end of the year. I mean, it’s just why-

Phil Cooke:

And these are all different size churches?

Katie Allred:

Right, and they’re all over and just all kinds of different denominations. It’s not just one denomination.

Phil Cooke:

Great, great.

Katie Allred:

And they all support each other.

Phil Cooke:

That’s awesome.

Katie Allred:

It is wild.

Phil Cooke:

I love that.

Katie Allred:

I don’t know. And so that’s why I know you can create culture online, and you can create good, healthy-

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, you can.

Katie Allred:

… supportive, culture because we’ve seen it. And so I’m like, “If we can do this, surely churches can do it too. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Totally, totally.

Katie Allred:

Okay, so what would you like to say to them and to our podcast audience about what they should be focusing on next? Should they be paying attention to VR audio TickTock texts?

Phil Cooke:

Okay, that’s a great question.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:19:15] My thought about this is when it comes to … there’s certain things that are fun to do because they’re creative. I had a church talk to me about holograms the other day. And they’re doing a conference, and one of the speakers can’t be there, so they want to use holograms. Oh, that’s fine. However, I would say that there are things that you do for fun, and there are things that are just going to have a more effective reach and make an impact. And so I really encourage people.

Phil Cooke:

I worked with a church one time that they were just all about creative, and they didn’t really care if it worked or not. They just wanted to be wildly creative and have fun. And I just kept trying to say, “Guys, let’s try to focus this a little bit and hit the target.” And they just didn’t want to have anything to do with it. So it really taught me that … and I’m the creative guy, and I teach on leading creative people, but there’s a time when you need to figure out, is it working or not working? You have to really analyze it and look at it from that perspective.

Phil Cooke:

But the thing I think I would tell communication directors and leaders in churches … it’s funny that when I started, churches didn’t do it at all. There was no such thing. I’m an old guy, and when I started, it was ministry organizations, Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, classical ministries that did because they could afford it. Churches couldn’t. But as equipment, my first video camera for television was a quarter of a million dollars, and that was a little remote camera. And so, as prices have come down, every church in America now has a TV studio.

Katie Allred:

I remember buying my first camcorder back in 2009, and it was $2,000.00, which was a lot for a college kid.

Phil Cooke:

It’s true. It’s true.

Katie Allred:

Today, the camera I’m shooting on now is like 700 bucks.

Phil Cooke:

And let me say there are two film festivals in America right now for feature films shot on iPhones.

Katie Allred:

Yeah, which is wild. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Yeah.

Katie Allred:

I mean, honestly, this 12 is probably a better quality.

Phil Cooke:

90% of the reason I bought my 12 was for the camera.

Katie Allred:

I know.

Phil Cooke:

Not for the phone-

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:20:58].

Katie Allred:

Not for any other thing, the camera is fantastic.

Phil Cooke:

I would say this. I would explore anything. Let me give you an example of something we’ve done because we work with churches all the time. And we have three churches that we work with that, during the pandemic, they went on local television.

Katie Allred:

Oh, wow.

Phil Cooke:

And we really helped them tweak the live stream, and it was really being effective. And they said, “You know what? Why don’t we show this to the entire community? Let’s show more people.” And so they started putting them … they booked time on local television. And the focus of the program is really to drive people to the church because a church member is going to go deeper spiritually. They’re going to give. They’re going to be involved. But we discovered that it’s been super successful. Churches have really grown because local people got to see what it’s like.

Phil Cooke:

And so even churches think broadcast TV, that’s for TV evangelists and those guys. Let me tell you, I just really believe that local television can really be an asset to driving people to church and making it known what you’re doing. So that’s an important thing. But the other thing is just to always be looking. It’s not about necessarily what’s next. I mean, if I knew what was next, I’d be a billionaire, and I wouldn’t be wasting my time talking to you. But it’s positioning yourself for what’s next. Always be paying attention to what’s going on, seeing what’s out there. I don’t think right now holograms are going to win the-

Katie Allred:

Probably not.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:22:18] to Jesus, but I want to check them out.

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:22:20] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, who knows?

Phil Cooke:

You never know.

Katie Allred:

Maybe I’m wrong. That would be great.

Phil Cooke:

No, no, no.

Katie Allred:

I can’t wait for a hologram to pop up.

Phil Cooke:

And another thing I’ll say, and then I’ll shut up, is learn to get on the pastor’s white label. And I’ll tell you, most pastors, most communication directors, come to me and say, “Pastor doesn’t get it. He won’t spend time with me. We never go to lunch. He never confides in me.

Katie Allred:

But having him on your team or her on your team is so important.

Phil Cooke:

Yeah, and it’s mostly that the disconnect usually happens because the communication or media person is talking their language, not his language. The pastor doesn’t care about how many lumens or what the light level is on the stage. They don’t care about that stuff. If you can talk in terms of how to reach people, how to connect with people, suddenly that’ll get his attention.

Katie Allred:

Yeah, 100%. I completely agree.

Phil Cooke:

Suddenly, he’s on your team. He’s the biggest advocate for that. So I think that learning to speak the language of the pastor will change everything. And it really makes a big difference for communication media people at the local church level. It really does matter.

Katie Allred:

How do you see the role? I know that we already said we can’t predict the future. How do you see the role of church comm, the church communicator, and their job shifting in the next five years?

Phil Cooke:

Let me be encouraging and say that the most effective churches that we work with right now, the communication director is the second most influential person in the church, the pastor being number one. He refers to the communication director more than anybody else, the executive pastor, other teaching pastors because that communication person is the voice, the mouthpiece for-

Katie Allred:

Yeah. They need a seat at the table.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, they do.

Katie Allred:

And if they didn’t get one during COVID, I don’t know-

Phil Cooke:

What will get you there.

Katie Allred:

… what will get you there.

Phil Cooke:

Because here, the pastor deals with people within the four walls of the church. The communication director gives that message-

Katie Allred:

Everywhere else. Right.

Phil Cooke:

… to potentially hundreds of thousands more.

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:24:11] that to more. Yeah.

Phil Cooke:

Absolutely. I had one pastor call me, and he said, “We have about 800 church members, but during the shutdown, my Easter message was seen by 1.5 million people.” And he said, “My communication team did that. That’s my communications team.” So trust me, he values them. And so I think when you can show results to a pastor and really help him understand how far it goes, or help her understand, particularly in a nonprofit or a ministry situation, whoever your leader is, really embrace them and show them that communication media has the chance to reach literally the world, I mean, literally.

Phil Cooke:

I work in Hollywood with influencers. There are people there that produce, as you know, produce five-minute weekly programs on YouTube, and they have 70 million subscribers. And they’re producing the show in the church, I mean, in their parent’s basement or a spare bedroom. So it’s really about the story, the content, the message of what you’re trying to do. That could be engaging. Who knows how-

Katie Allred:

[crosstalk 00:25:10] right. And you can clarify it, right?

Phil Cooke:

Totally.

Katie Allred:

You can tell it clearly and succinctly. I think that’s a good lesson.

Phil Cooke:

And the thing is, and I’ll shut up, but the thing is, what happens in the pulpit, on the stage, in a church, is not necessarily what will work the best online.

Katie Allred:

Oh yeah. Right? Yeah. It’s not.

Phil Cooke:

You need to adapt to the platform of-

Katie Allred:

Right, yeah, YouTube. You need a watch YouTubers. If you want to really reach some people, you can do it on YouTube, but it’s not going to be by labeling your sermon July 6, 2021, Roman 16. That’s not going to reach anybody.

Phil Cooke:

No. Well, weirdly enough, in the sixties, Canadian professor and theorist Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the-”

Katie Allred:

It’s the message.

Phil Cooke:

Which you’ve heard, which means if you do it on broadcast TV, it’s going to come across differently than if you do live streaming.

Katie Allred:

Yes! And you have to adapt it. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Adapt, yes.

Katie Allred:

Yes!.

Phil Cooke:

Absolutely.

Katie Allred:

You have to adapt it, man.

Phil Cooke:

Attaching a camera to the balcony rail is not a live stream. It’ll maybe capture the surface, but it’s not going to be nearly as effective as if you get up there and do it for that audience. In fact, I’ve had churches, even before the shutdown, churches that we work with, I’d encourage them while they’re doing praise and worship, the pastor would go off to a camera and introduce themself, welcome people, invite your friends. We’re thrilled that you’re here. He would talk to the camera during his message. Even before the shutdown, when people were in the building, we would do things that made the audience at home feel like they’re really connected.

Phil Cooke:

And the last thing I’ll say, and I’ll shut up, is I really don’t think this is the time. Even though we’re getting back into normal, this is not the time to let off the gas on the live stream. We need to keep going harder than ever because I think I’m seeing a significant number of church members are probably going to cut back one or two Sundays a month. They’ll show up at the building two or three times a month, but they’re going to say home once or twice.

Katie Allred:

Well, Barna even, and I think research showed that even the most engaged church members only came once a month.

Phil Cooke:

That’s sad, isn’t it? But it’s true.

Katie Allred:

But before COVID, I was like, “This was already where we were going.” We reached the high of [inaudible 00:27:15] in like 2006 or something like that. And then it just started going down for whatever reasons.

Phil Cooke:

Well, I wrote a book a few years ago called The Way Back: How Christians Blew Their Credibility and How We Can Get it Back. And we wrote it thinking the reason we’re being marginalized in the culture is a branding problem. We’re not telling our story well. But the more we got into it and we went to Barna, Pew, Gala, Lifeway Research, we covered-

Katie Allred:

The Mormons really figured that one out.

Phil Cooke:

They did.

Katie Allred:

We can talk about that later.

Phil Cooke:

They discovered that we don’t have a branding problem. We have sales force problem. Christians don’t believe in the product. They’re not out there living the life they’re called to live. They’re not being the people we’re called to be. And so, until we can do that, I just don’t think we’re going to make much of an impact. So there you go.

Katie Allred:

There it is.

Phil Cooke:

[crosstalk 00:27:58] depressing, yeah.

Katie Allred:

… convict you on this depressing.

Phil Cooke:

Yep, get with it.

Katie Allred:

Okay, so how did we connect with you, Phil, if they want to connect with you?

Phil Cooke:

Philcooke.com, and I’m a Cooke with an E, C-O-O-K-E. Philcook.com is my home base for everything and my blog. And I write about the intersection of faith, media, and culture. So the things that people are wrestling with and communication issues, and church, and ministries, I’m writing about that all the time. So I’m also writing a lot recently, Katie, about leading creative teams. I think if I can teach anything to communication, media leaders is leading creative people as a real art.

Katie Allred:

You want to go on the road?

Phil Cooke:

We should.

Katie Allred:

I mean, we got stuff. We’ve got people.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, there’s an art form.

Phil Cooke:

We got to get to them.

Katie Allred:

There’s a lot of resources on leadership, but there’s very little among creative people.

Phil Cooke:

Among creative leadership in church or in the religion. There’s so much that needs to be said there that isn’t happening, and the church used to be the number one place for creativity. Right?

Phil Cooke:

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Katie Allred:

We’ve seen the chapels, and I mean just … and somewhere where you just were like, “Well, let’s paint everything beige. That’ll be good.”

Phil Cooke:

Oh, yeah. Totally.

Katie Allred:

And church today, I feel like there has to be a Sherwin-Williams color, church beige.

Phil Cooke:

Well, a couple of years ago, IBM did a massive survey of CEOs all over the country. And they said, “What is the one trait that leaders need for the future?” And they said creativity. If we’re going to make a difference out there, it’s going to be through creativity. And so that’s what we want to get out. We want to let people know that they need creative people inspiring them, motivating them. That will change the world.

Katie Allred:

Right, Not church beige.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Katie Allred:

Well, thanks for joining us.

Phil Cooke:

Oh, it’s been fun. You’ve been great.

Katie Allred:

I appreciate it.

Phil Cooke:

It’s been terrific.

Katie Allred:

And again, just thank y’all for joining us, and we hope you’ll join us again at churchcommunications.gov.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to the Church Communications podcast with Katie Allred and Kenny Jahng. If you liked our show today and want to learn more, you can join our Facebook group with over 25,000 church leaders. Simply search for Church Communications on Facebook. And if you liked today’s episode, please consider subscribing and leaving us a review. It’s the most impactful way you can help us reach more church leaders and equip them to become better communicators for the church. And finally, don’t forget to check out our website at churchcommunications.com. Thanks for listening.

 

 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore