Reflecting on Phil Cooke’s Presentation at the Collyde Summit Part 2 – #Collyde

This was my first time hearing Phil Cooke. From all that he said, I was a bit surprised that I had not heard of him before but it’s a big world I guess.

Here’s his bio from his blog:
Phil Cooke is a writer, speaker, filmmaker, & media consultant who’s work focuses on helping clients create platforms for influencing culture and getting their voice heard. According to former CNN journalist Paula Zahn, Phil is rare – he’s a working producer in Hollywood with a Ph.D. in Theology. Christianity Today magazine calls him a “media guru” and his Change Revolution blog at is considered one of the most honest and insightful resources on the web on issues of faith, culture, and media.”

Phil does a fantastic introduction. First, he said, “My passion is to share the gospel more effectively.” In a room full of conservative evangelical leaders, that’s a winning line. Then to demonstrate evidence of a rapidly changing world, he drops this little stat, ““5 days of the NY Times is more information than people knew 100 years ago.” People at the table next to me smiled in disbelief and expressed their amazement.

From their he segued to how many churches do a poor job in articulating their identity and message. He put up pictures of bad signage and other weird Jesus moments:

Clearly, the Church has not always been clear or helpful with our great message.

Later he said, the first buildings to reopen in Afghanistan were not schools, hospitals, churches, – movie theaters. And so to cut to the chase, if we are going to have a voice to today’s generation (all across the world), we need to speak social media.

Further it is not just in articulating our message but then it has to fight all the clutter surrounding it in society. He identified clutter as the greatest thing we fight in relaying our message. From Nelson Research, the average American is bombarded with 5000 media messages a day, is connected to either television or the internet for 8hrs and 18 mins a day and sleeps 6hrs 40 mins. He then asked, who is going to win that battle? That fits so well in the sermon I am preparing at the moment (i think I’m using it.)

He discussed the difference between the Boomer and Millennial Generation (and as an X’er this is always fascinating to me). The Millennial sees the interconnectedness of media. For example, they help pick the next American Idol by sending text messages. This is hard for the Boomers to understand. I immediately thought of Doug Pagitt’s sermon collaboration/giving at Solomon’s Porch. They may be seen as odd to some now but for similar churches and youth groups that are already experimenting with this, well, church and the idea of the sermon is going to look quite different years from now.

Phil spent the second half of his presentation talking about “branding”. Even to me that’s a scary word, maybe another time, I can get into why but to cut to the chase, I think I have a fairly decent understanding of it from my time reading and discussing it at Biblical Seminary (Cohort 10! ;-) and agree that everything is branded. Whether branded poorly or well (and the many degrees in between). Everything carries a perception. And because of that – we brand in our youth ministry, our church, we even brand ourselves. I think this is an area that we need to be better stewards of and be more intentional about. (Yes, the website is an example and we all are in agreement that it needs to be radically changed professionally. Praying for change …).

Cooke gave an excellent introduction to the need for social media in the church. I need to check out some of his books to get to the deeper things. I am curious of where he agrees/disagrees with the guru of it all, Marshal McLughan and what he sounds like in comparison with people like Shane Hipps.
If you are interested in reading more from Phil, follow him on Twitter, put his blog on your RSS reader (or subscribe via email) and check out his books:
Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non Profits Impact Culture and Some Don’t, The Last TV Evangelist:  Why the Next Generation Couldn’t Care Less About Religious Media and a new book coming out Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing.

Reflecting on the Collyde Summit Post 1 #Collyde

On the heels of posting on Doug Pagitt’s Church in the Inventive Age, I thought I’d post a couple thoughts on the Collyde Summit that I checked out this past Saturday. First, I am still not quite sure whose Twitter feed I found the summit through but I thought that was kinda ironic since the theme was on the use of social media in the church. It gathered about 100 or so church/ministry leaders in north Jersey. Second, Collyde is an organization started by Jinu Thomas. He shared briefly about the launch of the Collyde network and you can read a little of his story here. In short it “is a “Socially-Conscious” social network for Christians, concerned citizens, churches and ministries around the world. Collyde is a non-profit organization that is committed to channeling 100% of net profits directly to fight social and economic causes around the world”.

My first impressions of Collyde were pretty positive. Website looks great and the lineup was very impressive for such a small organization. Carlos Whittaker led a set of worship, Phil Cooke was the plenary speaker, an excellent panel discussion that I wished would have gone longer (and would have liked to have heard more from Joan Ball, she sounds like someone I’d really like to listen to).

The event began with a presentation from Lloyd Pulley who is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel of Old Bridge. He spoke on speaking the truth in love, how society gives an incomplete truth and the role of Scripture in our lives. Most in the room probably were not hearing anything new but his presentation set the tone and was a solid anchoring point.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the panel discussion with Mike Leahy (Liquid Church’s New Brunswick Campus Pastor) Joan Ball (author of Flirting with Faith: My Spiritual Journey From Atheism to a Faith-Filled Lifeem>), Tim Abare (CEO of Big Fish Media), and Carlos Whittaker (whose daughter just broke her wrist, so please pray for her recovery). Whittaker is among the better examples of using social media. He is a gifted worship leader with a widely read blog called Ragamuffin Soul, a huge twitter following and has a personality that lends itself to social media.

Mike asked him about one of his youtube clips that made his one year old son cry – you can watch it below, over 4.5 million people have. As the story goes, it went viral, the family ended up on morning talk shows, and they promoted the beauty of adoption and allowed other Kingdom-oriented opportunities. The takeaway was in what he said in response. He said he and his wife, Heather, post constantly, blog posts, tweets, videos on youtube and of the last 5 years, that was the one that blew up. It was the result of the platform and a number of other factors, not just a funny yet sad clip. He emphasized the importance of consistency in social media.

Later Mike asked if Jesus would have used social media? (Franky, I hate this question but I suppose it needs to be asked). Joan had an excellent answer where she said, “That’s like a painter asking would Jesus use the color red? I think Jesus would simply say “Paint”. I know this is a concern for many people like the pastor who believes married people should not be on Facebook because it leads to affairs (great logic dude – what’s next? Married people shouldn’t work outside of their homes, travel, or ever leave their spouse’s side? This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that you are not a part of my local church. I know that sounds harsh and I have my own shortcomings and misstatements but I’m still recovering from a year of ridiculous comments made my pastors regarding Haiti, Obama, Muslims, and a few other topics.) Side note – Tim Abare suggested that you need to be a bit controversial in social media. If you know me, you know I say some outlandish, in border-line appropriate things regularly, I just prefer to do it in person so you can hear my the sarcasm in my voice and so I can read your body language and respond from there. I am going to experiment with Tim’s advice more ;-)

Back to the panel discussion, as it moved along, there was a lot of humility (almost a “reverence”) to the topic and I really appreciated Joan’s comment, “No one really knows how to do this – we are all figuring it out, so use it, experiment, engage …”. I admit a bit of my reticence when it comes to my social networking. I blog a few times a week, tweet a few times a day and try to overpost and comment on Facebook for a number of reasons including, “This pastor is on his computer all day when he should be with people, praying, teaching teens, being more missional, with his family, waxing the steeple, etc.” And being a multi-tasker I do all those things simultaneously despite that we are a church that doesn’t actually have a steeple. But like everyone has said repeatedly, this is where people are many hours a day and pastors need to have a presence on here as well.

Phil Cooke was fantastic and I’ll have to blog about him another time.