On the Move at NRB 2022

On the Move at NRB 2022

Recently, Phil and Kathleen Cooke, co-founders of The Influence Lab, were on the move in Nashville at the annual National Religious Broadcasters Convention (NRB). NRB is an international association of Christian communicators with more than 1,100 member organizations reaching millions with the use of media. Each year Christian media and entertainment leaders meet in a national city to teach leadership and technical workshops, share updates on media policies, listen to inspirational speakers, receive media and entertainment awards, and provide communicators with the opportunity to connect over their most recent content and projects.

Phil and Kathleen were hosted on several national radio programs, podcasts and TV shows. They also met with a number of national and global leaders to talk about the mission and vision of The Influence Lab and Influence Lab Women. (Read more here: Industry Experts Talk About the Power of Documentaries.)

What is the mission and vision of The Influence Lab?

Our Mission
Recognizing we live in a media-driven culture dominated by the influence of Hollywood, we engage Christians who are involved in media, entertainment, leadership, and the arts to encourage them to align their faith with God’s Kingdom purposes and become influencers and to use their talents and skills effectively to change the global culture.

Our Vision
To cultivate Christian thought leaders involved in media, entertainment, leadership, and the arts who are passionate to elevate the voice of God’s purposes and callings and bring about positive global change for the Church and the world.

What is coming next?
Save the date for April 29th in Los Angeles and June 10th in Atlanta for the next in-person Influence Lab Women gatherings. Details coming soon!

Meet Anna Oakley Atlanta’s New Influence Lab Coordinator

Meet Anna Oakley Atlanta’s New Influence Lab Coordinator

We’re growing! Influence Lab Women is expanding into the hub of film and television production in Atlanta. “Hollywood and New York are no longer the only epicenters of media production,” shares Kathleen Cooke. “Influence Lab Women is thrilled to introduce you to the new Atlanta Influence Lab coordinator, Anna Oakley.”

The kick-off of the Atlanta group will be an in-person watch party of the Influence Lab Women’s online event featuring guest Cindy Bond, producer of “Redeeming Love” and the box-office hit, “I Can Only Imagine.” If you live in the Atlanta area, sign up here to join us for this event. (Not in Atlanta? Sign up here for the free webinar.)

And now, meet Anna Oakley…

Hi! My name is Anna Elizabeth Oakley, and I’m an actor, puppeteer, and children’s coach living in what has come to be known as the “Hollywood of the South” – Atlanta, Georgia. In December 2021, I journeyed to LA to hear actress and producer Jessica Oyelowo speak at The Influence Lab Women’s Christmas Gathering. I didn’t know anything about The Influence Lab and little did I know what God truly had in store for me that night. After a long desert season of almost two years due to the pandemic, the gathering blew me away and filled my soul. It was not only an evening filled with new connections, friendships, and empowering prayer but of being strengthened and mentored in faith and career excellence. I was inspired to press on and into what and where God had purposed for my life.

My immediate question when I met Kathleen was, have you thought of bringing this to Atlanta?

It turns out she had! The Influence Lab team had been praying about expanding into Atlanta. They, too, knew that Atlanta had grown into a strong industry community and had become a major hub for TV and film production. The Influence Lab had felt an urgency to expand, encourage and empower professionals there. But how? It was a matter of God’s timing. That night I felt God tapping me on the shoulder and calling me into action. (more…)

Welcoming the New Director of Influence Lab Women’s Events, Ayanna Anene

Welcoming the New Director of Influence Lab Women’s Events, Ayanna Anene

The Influence Lab team is expanding! If you’ve attended one of our recent Influence Lab Women’s events, you’ve experienced the growing interest of women who hunger for connection and career growth opportunities in the entertainment and arts industries. To help meet this need, we’re happy to introduce to you Ayanna Anene, the new director of Influence Lab Women’s events!

“One of my drives is to see Christians use their gifts to the glory of God,” shares Ayanna. “I believe there is no greater worship than when we take the talents we’ve been given, develop them with excellence, skill, and discipline into a craft, and then use and create out of those very gifts that have been dedicated to God.”

Ayanna is a producer and writer, passionate about telling nuanced, diverse, and character-driven stories. She started her entertainment career in Business Affairs at The Walt Disney Company and later joined an LA-based TV and film production company as executive assistant to the CEO.  Additionally, Ayanna made up the core leadership team of a traveling performing arts ministry based in Orange County for several years, producing over 40 original musicals and plays.

“I remember what it was like to work for years in this business and not feel like I had a tribe,” shares Ayanna. “I am excited about fostering unity with future events that will allow women in media, entertainment and corporate leadership to be inspired, challenged and form genuine connections with their peers.”

Ayanna Anene is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and writes inspirational devotionals on The Ascend. Follow her on Instagram here. 

Send Ayanna a welcome note at info@influencelab.com. She’d love to hear from you and how the IN Lab women’s gatherings have impacted your life. We love helping hands, building a community and growing relationships and we want to see you involved .

Volunteer: Reach out to us at info@influencelab.com to find out ways you can volunteer at our next event.
Share: Invite a friend to the next Influence Lab Women’s gathering.
Partner: Your financial partnership makes a big difference in what we can accomplish! Give here. 

 

It’s Time to Dramatically Change the Way We Think About Missions

It’s Time to Dramatically Change the Way We Think About Missions

The digital revolution has changed everything we know about mission strategy. If you’re not familiar with missions movements, we’ve arrived at an interesting place that calls for strategic efforts. Here’s a quick overview…

Since the Victorian age, missionaries from Western countries (particularly the United Kingdom and the United States) have shouldered the largest burden when it comes to missions. Men and woman like Hudson TaylorWilliam Carey, and Lottie Moon not only pioneered the work of the gospel, but actually impacted the greater culture in the countries they served.

The idea of sending missionaries from the West to reach those in other countries made a powerful impact, but at a great cost. The sheer expense of training a Western missionary, teaching them the language, funding the trip, paying their living expenses, and more can be great.

That and other challenges eventually led to what I consider “Phase II” of missions, which was raising up local Christians to work in their own countries. After all these indigenous missionaries were already in-country, and they knew the community, the language, and the customs.

And now, an even greater revolution is taking place in missions.

It’s no surprise that the digital revolution, accelerated by the challenges presented by COVID-19, has created immense opportunities on the global mission field. In 2021, the number of smartphone users in the world reached 6.378 billion, which translates to 80.63% of the world’s population. The opportunity to share the gospel via live-streaming, online video, social media, web content and more is absolutely enormous.

But with that increased opportunity comes the necessity to train a new generation to reach the world through ever evolving and ever-increasing digital platforms. I’ve often said that seminaries and Bible schools generally do a great job of teaching pastors and church leaders about preaching, teaching the Bible, and how to lead a church, but they fall woefully short when it comes to sharing the gospel via media and digital communication.

We launched The Influence Lab for that purpose. Through partnerships with Christian media organizations around the world, as well as international broadcast media platforms, we are attempting to create a global network for training the next generation of Christian media professionals – pastors, ministry leaders and their media and communications teams – to share the most important story of all, the good news of Jesus Christ.

The need is greater than you might imagine. At any moment, I have multiple requests on my desk from churches and ministry organizations around the world asking us to come teach on media and communication. Our recent trip to Italy was a prime example.

Sabaoth Church in Milan leads a network of 75 churches across Italy and Eastern Europe. Kathleen and I spoke at their annual conference which included a special media and communication session. We also conducted training for their School of Missions called “Hanger 28” (like a plane hangar, it builds leaders who can fly). I was particularly impressed with this vibrant church that is focused on reaching the media-driven generation.

Certainly many churches, ministries, and their leaders have a social media presence, but are we really thinking deeply about how we can engage this new “digital mission field” with our message? Other than trying to amp up our “likes,” how many organizations have a strategic plan for global evangelism through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or through emerging digital tools?

While we should continue to mobilize and equip traditional and indigenous missionaries, I also believe it’s time to shift from primarily thinking about missions in terms of geographical boundaries and start thinking in terms of digital boundaries. From my perspective, that’s a massive audience just waiting to hear our message.

-Phil Cooke

P.S. I invite you to partner with the work of The Influence Lab and consider a special year-end gift. Your support helps us train churches in countries like Italy and Russia and South Africa with pastors who yearn for the “know-how” to navigate the digital age and to do it effectively.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The need to share our message never changes, but how we share it does. This is the moment to embrace the digital world. Give now.

Want to know more? Read also: The Influence Lab Earns Guidestar’s 2021 Silver Seal of Transparency

Italy and Turkey – A Long Awaited Trip During the Pandemic

Italy and Turkey – A Long Awaited Trip During the Pandemic

When the pandemic began in March 2020, one of the nations it struck hardest was Italy. Phil and I were booked to speak in Milan that year, but with the country on lockdown, our trip was cancelled. We were pleased to finally reschedule for late October this year and experience first-hand that God is alive and well in His Church in Italy.

Under the leadership of Pastor Roselem Boerner Faccio, Sabaoth Church is thriving in Milan. The city is known as one of the top global fashion and design cities in the world and Sabaoth’s congregation is infused with an abundance of creativity. They have tapped into the Source of all creativity, our Creator God, and the church has been blessed to an overflowing community of talented artists.

Phil and I were honored to speak to these artists, designers and leaders (mostly 20-40 year-olds) who are passionate to personally know God more fully and tell others of His love and redemptive life. This thriving young church understands that to reach this next generation it must include the use of effective media.

Phil spoke to their Bible training school, Hanger28, and then both he and I spoke at multiple sessions of Sabaoth’s annual gathering called Conference One. While the 1000 seat auditorium was still under governmental restrictive use, 300 people were able to attend in person with over 1500 viewing online.

Phil spoke on leadership and the practical use of media, messaging and branding, as well as on how to effectively connect with people in the digital age. I brought insights on understanding and communicating to multi-generations: the boomers, millennials and iGens who now use media 24/7. If we want to reach the culture with the love and gospel of Jesus we must understand what they see and hear and have a firm grasp on what will resonate with their thinking.

It was then off to Istanbul, Turkey for five days as we toured the city’s rich historical and religious sites. While there, we connected with a group working with business leaders and students and shared at their gathering. We gave them tips on the best use of digital media while letting the light and love of God shine forth when asked questions. It was an interesting social climate as those working in this underground grass roots ministry constantly reminded us that the group was being watched and listened to and that their class could be shut down at any moment.

For Phil and I, it was a good reminder of how blessed we are to live in a country that still allows for freedom of faith and thought, while people in other nations live in fear. One of the only ways to reach out to those seeking the truth of God in these religiously restrained countries is through media. It’s why training and encouraging those working in these restricted countries is so vital.

Traveling globally with the ongoing pandemic was a challenge. Yet, the joy of sharing and teaching on the frontlines in other countries was joyous and rewarding. The need to teach and train leaders with the effective use of media continues to be great and never ending as we are constantly asked, “When can you come?”

Phil and I and the entire Influence Lab team are always blessed when we hear from you and are encouraged by your prayers and support for us. We are so very grateful. Our pray for you this New Year, 2022, is that God will bring you joy and continue to bless your coming and going as we all seek to see Jesus lifted high and His Kingdom flourish. -Kathleen Cooke

Your partnership makes a difference! Consider a year-end gift to The Influence Lab and help us continue to meet the need for training leaders to use digital media effectively to share the gospel. The gospel message never changes, but in this digital age, how we share it does. Give here.

Special offer! As a thank you for your generous partnership of $25.00 or more to The Influence Lab, you’ll have your choice of these books by Phil and Kathleen Cooke:
Maximize Your Influence: How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, and You
Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture (New paperback edition!)
Unique: The Ultimate Planner for Creative Professionals
Give your gift today!

Influence Lab Women’s Christmas Gathering Announced for December

Influence Lab Women’s Christmas Gathering Announced for December

Joy! Joy! Joy! We are celebrating to announce The Influence Lab Women’s Christmas Gathering! It’s been almost two years since we’ve been able to meet due to the pandemic and we’re excited to meet again and see your smiling faces (masks optional).

Are you able to talk about your faith and the hope you have within? Are you ready to answer probing questions from a Hollywood industry searching for happiness?

Join Influence Lab co-founder and media executive Kathleen Cooke with guests Bel Air Executive Pastor Kim Dorr-Tilley (former Hollywood talent agent!) and actress-producer Jessica Oyelowo as we explore ways you can share your faith in Hollywood and celebrate the joy we have in Christ Jesus!

When: December 9, 2021
Time: 6:00pm – 8:30pm
Where: Bel Air Church, 16221 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Cost: Free event – donations appreciated!

Register for this special Christmas event now.
(Hurry – seats are limited!)

Appetizers will be served and we invite you to give a generous gift to help support the work of The Influence Lab. A donation will be welcomed at the door or you can give to The Influence Lab here.

This Christmas ring in redemptive love, grace and freedom. Join us for the Influence Lab Women’s Christmas Gathering in Los Angeles. Find out more about our speakers and register here.

“…if anyone asks about the hope living within you, always be ready to explain your faith with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)