Phil Cooke

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Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke.jpg
Born (1954-08-31) August 31, 1954 (age 64)
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
Residence Burbank, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Oral Roberts University
University of Oklahoma
Trinity College and Seminary
Occupation Media consultant, producer, speaker, author
Years active 1977–present
Kathleen Paille (m. 1977)
Children 2

Phil Cooke (August 31, 1954-) is a writer, television producer, and media consultant[1] based in Burbank, California, as well as a critic of some aspects of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture. He is an evangelical Christian and, as Scott McClellan of Collide Magazine wrote, "At times, Cooke may appear to be Christian media's biggest critic but, as he is quick to point out, he criticizes because he loves."[2]

He is a long-time producer of nationally known religious and inspirational programming, and has worked for such clients as Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, The Salvation Army, Mercy Ships, Southern Baptists, The American Bible Society, The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, and the YouVersion Bible App. Cooke produced Billy Graham's most-seen program, "Starting Over," which reached around 1.5 billion people in 200 countries in one day.[3] Joel Osteen said, "Phil Cooke is one of the greatest communicators of our generation."

He has also produced marketing and promotional materials for major motion picture studios in their national advertising campaigns.[citation needed]

Cooke, with his wife Kathleen, founded Cooke Pictures in 1991. Cooke was a co-founder of TWC Films, which produced two 2008 Super Bowl commercials.[4]

Early life[edit]

Cooke was born on August 31, 1954 in Charlotte, NC. His father, Bill Cooke, is a preacher originally from Kannapolis, NC. Bill studied at Catawba College, Johnson C. Smith University, and University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Oral Roberts University. He was a World War II veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps, and was distinguished in the Pacific Ocean theatre. His mother, Thelma Blackwelder Cooke was a homemaker.

Phil attributes his career path to a movie he made in high school, which he played for his fellow students at Oral Roberts University. When the response was positive, he left his music major behind and got his degree in Film and Television in 1976. He later earned a Master's in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, and a doctorate through distance learning from the unaccredited Trinity College and Seminary in Indiana.[5]


Cooke is known in Christian circles as an advocate of faith branding, encouraging Christian organizations and leaders to change how churches communicate their message in a media-centric world. As Cooke has explained, "Most people have negative connotations when they hear the word 'branding.' They think commercialism, they think capitalism. But the fact is, branding is simply a compelling story around a product or a person or an organization."[4]

Cooke wrote two books that attempt to explain this concept, Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-Profits Impact Culture and Others Don't, and The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn't Care Less About Religious Media and Why It Matters. In The Last TV Evangelist, Cooke argued that scandals and a shift in media consumption has spelled the end for what has been known as "traditional" Christian media.[6] In 2012, "Branding Faith" was expanded and updated and became a new book Unique: Telling Your Story in the age of Brands and Social Media.[7] The updated version included social media, which hadn’t been in existence when the original book was written.

The Christian Broadcasting Network quotes him, regarding Christianity in the media, as saying: "We simply have to have a voice in the media. It’s time for the church to take ministry to the next level."[8] Cooke's message has been summed up as: "If churches want to be listened to, they need to respond adequately to the new situation, or risk not being heard."[9] Cooke says that the world is in the greatest transition between two generations of media use, and he posits that the drive behind this shift is that "The Millennial generation wants to have a voice,"[4] and that it has the technological backing to realize that desire.

One of Cooke's main criticisms of contemporary U.S. "Christian culture" is its lack of creativity. He is firmly against what he describes as the "bubble" that the Christian subculture is in, as it is focused on developing its own music, books, and movies that do not engage the culture at large. Cooke explains: "Changing the culture is a gigantic task. It's like the weather.... We can't change the weather, but we can rescue people from the storm....We need to connect with that great audience out there so real change can eventually happen."[10]

In 2013, Cooke launched "The Influence Lab", a nonprofit organization that works to train the next generation of international media professionals. He believes that the church must change its strategy about global missions. In a world where – by population – Facebook is the third largest country in the world, the Christian community must rethink "missions" in terms of digital boundaries, not geographic boundaries. Cooke and his wife serve on the board of directors along with Jonathan Bock, Craig Detweiler, and Dawn Nicole Baldwin are members of the board of directors.[11] The Influence Lab partners with The National Religious Broadcasters, YouVersion Bible App, OneHope, Jesus Film Project, Christian Media Australia, and Visual Story Network.

Cooke Pictures[edit]

Cooke Pictures is the media production company founded by Phil and Kathleen Cooke in 1991. Located in Burbank, California, the Cooke Pictures team has produced programming in more than fifty countries worldwide. The focus has been on helping nonprofit and religious organizations tell their stories more effectively through various media platforms such as television, short films, online platforms and social media. In that process, they've filmed violent gangs in South America, human traffickers in Eastern Europe, government overthrows in Africa, and travelled with Bedouin tribes in the Middle East. The company has also produced music videos, concert events, live global television, TV commercials, promotional and fundraising presentations. Their client list has included religious personalities and organizations like Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, The Christian Broadcasting Network, The Southern Baptist Convention, The International Mission Board, The American Bible Society, the Jesus Film Project, and many more. Nonprofit clients have included The Salvation Army, Mercy Ships, Feed the Children, and others. Non-religious clients have included ESPN, Walt Disney Studios, Philips Petroleum, Paramount Pictures, Alcon Entertainment and National Public Broadcasting.[citation needed]

In 2016, Cooke was Executive Producer for the theatrical documentary film Let Hope Rise, based on the band Hillsong United from Sydney, Australia.[12] The story follows their world tour, and includes the growth of Hillsong Church, founded by Brian Houston and Bobbie Houston.[13]

Cooke was producer of the theatrical documentary "The Insanity of God" which was a one night Fathom Event in theaters nationwide.[14]


His book Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That's Constantly Changing shares his secrets of making today's culture of disruption and change work for you. One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do helps readers find the great purpose and calling for their life. The Washington Post named One Big Thing as one of the Top Five Business Books for 2012.

In April 2011, Cooke broke away from his focus on Christian media with his book Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That's Constantly Changing, which deals with how leaders can adapt to the radical changes around them. In discussing the book, Cooke stated: "...change is coming whether we like it or not, and whether we're ready or not. The question that drove me to write Jolt! was – do you know how to see change coming and navigate that change in a positive way?"[15] In Jolt!, Cooke argues that having great ideas is not good enough; action must be taken to see creative ideas become successful projects.[16]

His book One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do was released in June 2012. It also deviates from his previous material on Christian media. The premise of the book is that truly successful people focus on being exceptionally good at one big thing.[16] Charisma Magazine summarized it in this way: "...Cooke’s primary target is anyone frustrated with the path his life has taken. Cooke believes that finding 'the one thing' is the key to fulfillment."[17]

His most recent book is Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media. Cooke explains that this book represents his "life message."[18] Unique serves to encourage and instruct readers in their attempt to find what sets them apart from others in the attempt to create successful branding and marketing for their career.[18] Unique is a revised an updated version of Branding Faith, which was originally published in 2008.[19]

Phil also wrote The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn't Care Less About Religious Media and Why It Matters.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Cooke has received several honors and awards for his contribution to the film industry. Cooke and Cooke Pictures have been awarded Covenant Awards, The Communicator Crystal Awards, Addy Awards, Telly Awards, OMNI Intermedia Awards, Crown Awards, Aurora Awards, and Angel Awards. Recognized work includes "The Story of Silent Night", "Serving The Lord with Gladness", and "The Gift of Jabez". Several projects with Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church and his alma mater, Oral Roberts University have also been recognized.[citation needed]

Back to the Bible and the Center for Bible Engagement Acknowledgement honored Cooke for Service Beyond the Call of Duty.[citation needed]

He serves as a board member for National Religious Broadcasters, the Influence Lab, Hollywood Prayer Network, and The Ministry Lab.[citation needed]

He's lectured at universities like Yale University,[citation needed] University of California at Berkeley,[citation needed] UCLA,[citation needed] and is an adjunct professor at the King's University in Los Angeles.[citation needed] He is a well known blogger, and has written for The Huffington Post, and is a contributor to Fast Company,, and[citation needed]

Cooke is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America .[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Cooke writes a daily blog, titled "The Change Revolution", on the interaction of media and Christian culture, in which he gives criticism as often as praise to people and events in the Christian world.

Phil met his wife Kathleen at a church service on the Oral Roberts University campus in 1977. He tells the story that "She was wearing a pink corduroy pantsuit with a white scarf and matching patent leather platform shoes. It took three months, and a college friend's pressure – Rod Carlson – to finally ask her out. The only reason she said "yes" was because she was friends with another Phil Cooke and thought he was that guy."[citation needed]

They married on March 12, 1977. They have two children. Kelsey was born in 1984, and Bailey born in 1988. Cooke and his family reside California. Kelsey and her husband, Chris gave birth to Phil's first granddaughter, Kennady Renn Guerra, in 2014.


  1. ^ Christianity Today has called him a "media guru" – Wegner, Rachel; "Faith, Culture, and Other Mysteries"; ORU Report, Fall 2008; p. 8
  2. ^ McClellan, Scott; "Phil Cooke on Branding Faith"; Collide, March 31, 2008 Archived January 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Stammer, Larry; "Billy Graham Program Takes Cue From MTV"; Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1996
  4. ^ a b c Wegner, Rachel; "Faith, Culture, and Other Mysteries"; ORU Report, Fall 2008; p. 9
  5. ^ Scharia, Jenna; "New Cooke Book"; The Communique, Fall/Winter 2008; p. 11
  6. ^ Idol Chatter; "A Good Read: 'The Last TV Evangelist'";
  7. ^ Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media: Phil Cooke: 9780801017605: Books
  8. ^ Christian Broadcasting Network; "Phil Cooke: Christian Media for the New Millennium"
  9. ^ Flynn, Father John, LC; "Churches Communicating a Message of Hope"; and Global Zenit News
  10. ^ Wegner, Rachel; "Faith, Culture, and Other Mysteries"; ORU Report, Fall 2008; p. 10
  11. ^ "Board of Directors";
  12. ^ Hillsong UNITED - Music, Tours and Exclusive Content | United
  13. ^ Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston on 32 Years in Ministry and His Latest Book, 'Live Love Lead' (Interview)
  14. ^ The Insanity of God
  15. ^ "5 Questions for Phil Cooke"; Conversant Life; June 28, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Kennedy, Christina Jonas; "Interview: Phil Cooke, Author of Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing" August 4, 2011.
  17. ^ Leatherman, John D.; "One Big Thing" Charisma magazine online, July 1, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Viola, Frank; "Unique" April 12, 2013.
  19. ^ "Synopsis";


External links[edit]