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The 700 Club

Phil Cooke on Maximizing Your Influence

The Language of Our Culture

The digital revolution has changed the way we share the gospel, Phil says, as he exhorts us to adjust our thinking on how the culture receives content. “The largest country on the planet is Facebook,” he quips. Phil points out that pastors have seminary training, but most do not have digital media training and are often intimidated by it. “One of the most frustrating issues I see out there among churches and ministries is leaders who are afraid to explore these communication platforms because they simply don’t understand how they work,” Phil says. He has a passion to help leaders communicate in today’s digital world and become confident. “Insecure leaders rarely take risks, even when those risks could have enormous benefits. And in my opinion, rarely has there been a more important time in history to take risks for the sake of the gospel.”

Phil says many Christian leaders are afraid that if they live stream their services, their in-person attendance will decrease. However, he’s worked with a number of pastors who found that wasn’t the case. One church, for example, has attendance of seven hundred people, while their live stream audience has grown to ten thousand. 

Our digital culture has a language of its own, and Phil points out that it’s used to great effect by many secular organizations. “They are part of a contemporary cultural conversation that has left much of the Church behind. But what if the majority of pastors and leaders of our 384,000 churches could learn how to speak that language?What if every church in America had a voice sharing the gospel to their communities via social media, short videos, websites, television, and publishing? What if they understood the demographic changes so well, they could immediately adapt their message to a shifting culture?” In his book, "Maximize Your Inflence," Phil provides many ideas for effective digital media usage such as branding, speaking to a digital generation, websites, social media, streaming, fundraising, even handling a public relations crisis.

The Pandemic and Digital Media

Citing a Lifeway Research report, Phil says that before the pandemic, 41% of churches had never offered any worship services or other resources online at all. Of course, that changed dramatically as churches started responding to lockdowns. Having studied hundreds of live stream worship services in the months since the pandemic began, Phil noted that most churches simply duplicated what went on in the building. He says ministries need to change things up for a live stream service, starting by considering the online audience as important as the one in the sanctuary. For example, talking directly to the live stream audience is also key to making them feel a part of the experience, he believes, as well as encouraging their participation in worship, learning, and giving. Other keys to an effective live stream that Phil offers are:  

  1. Making it easy to find on the church’s home page
  2. Giving early viewers something to watch before the service starts, such as announcements or a prayer time
  3. When the service begins, have the pastor extend a greeting to the live stream audience specifically
  4. If possible, use graphics for Scripture or sermon points
  5. Use a proven platform for the live stream, such as Church Online Platform 

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