A new alliance between MEDIAlliance International and The Influence Lab offers expanded opportunities to strengthen and train Christian pastors and media leaders in global settings.
Los Angeles, CA (May 23, 2023)— The power of partnership is being realized as MEDIAlliance International and The Influence Lab announce a new partnership committed to training and strengthening Christian pastors and media leaders on a global scale. The alliance expands upon a long-term friendship and like-minded ministry between MEDIAlliance president, Dr. Ron Harris and The Influence Lab founder, Dr. Phil Cooke.
With regional offices in Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Brazil, MEDIAlliance leads Christian leadership forums to help key media leaders increase their impact in sharing the gospel. Similarly, The Influence Lab offers training and equipping for pastors and Christian communicators in areas of the world where access to media training is not readily available. Although Phil Cooke has spoken at many MEDIAlliance forums, the strategic partnership offers opportunities for the two ministries to work more closely together for greater effect.
Harris expressed excitement at the expanded role that the partnership brings. “Phil Cooke is amazing at helping people think beyond the norm in communicating God’s truth,” said Harris. “His challenging insights take people to a different level in leadership and ministry.”
Cooke responded, “Ron Harris has done a remarkable job building offices in strategic countries. With that foundation, we have an amazing opportunity to engage with Christian media leaders around the world.”
The Influence Lab and Cooke Media Group, both founded by Phil Cooke, have influenced Christian media for many years. Cooke has worked with many of the most respected churches and ministries around the world and his books have become texts for leadership development and media training.
MEDIAlliance International began in 2013 as an extension of Ron Harris’s over fifty years in media, church leadership and broadcast ministry, as well as his service as a communication professor at university and seminary levels. MEDIAlliance currently works with Christian media leaders in over forty countries.
MEDIAlliance and The Influence Lab Prayer are seeking prayer and financial partners to join them in their united mission of training pastors and media leaders globally. As 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, gifts are tax-deductible.
About Ron Harris – President and Founder, MEDIAlliance Dr. Ronald L. Harris has been around broadcasting for most of his life, beginning in radio almost 55 years ago. After serving two years as Assistant Professor of Communications and Special Assistant to the President at Dallas Baptist University, Ron Harris is the president of MEDIAlliance International. In that role, he links Christian broadcasters in the United States with those in various places worldwide to grow the impact of Christian broadcasting and the Gospel of Christ. Find out more at https://medialliance.cc
About Phil Cooke—Media Producer / Writer / Speaker / Coach Helping creative leaders influence the world. Phil Cooke, Ph.D., is co-founder and CEO of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles and the nonprofit The Influence Lab. Phil has produced media programming in nearly 70 countries and created many of the most influential inspirational TV programs in history with a client list that includes Hollywood studios, major nonprofit organizations, and many of the world’s most respected churches and ministries. He’s been called “one of the most innovative communicators of our generation.” Find out more at philcooke.com.
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Look how God is using the Russian translation of Phil’s book! Here’s the official press release of the new developments – all made possible by the generous partnership of those who are joining with us in the mission of The Influence Lab to train and equip pastors in places where media training is not easily accessible.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Translation of Phil Cooke’s “Maximize Your Influence” Equips Russian Evangelical Pastors in Time of War
In a time of war, Russian evangelical pastors are equipped to strategically share biblical truth in the digital age with a Russian translation of Phil Cooke’s “Maximize Your Influence—How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, and You.”
Los Angeles, CA (April 20, 2023) – Phil Cooke is maximizing his influence in the digital age with a Russian translation of his book, “Maximize Your Influence—How to Make Digital Media Work for Your Church, Your Ministry, and You.” What began as a simple translation of the book has evolved into a bi-annual training program for Russian evangelical pastors and ministry leaders in Moscow. Funded by The Influence Lab and facilitated by trusted pastors inside Russia, this outreach equips Russian pastors and ministry leaders to strategically share the gospel, despite the current political climate.
“When I was approached about the translation project, we jumped on board quickly to raise funds,” said Phil Cooke, media producer and founder of Cooke Media Group and the nonprofit The Influence Lab. “These pastors desperately need the digital media training that will equip them to counteract propaganda with biblical truth.”
Bi-annual training sessions have incorporated the Russian version of “Maximize Your Influence” to train pastors across Russia.
Cooke’s “Maximize Your Influence” equips ministry leaders with the mindset, messaging and hands-on strategies to effectively engage audiences in today’s digital generation. With a vision to empower pastors and Christian communicators with up-to-date media strategies, The Influence Lab specifically targets its mission to countries with limited access to teaching and training opportunities. With U.S. government-issued “do not travel” advisories and risks of “wrongful detention” in Russia, Phil’s book is a critical resource for Russian ministry leaders.
Two pastors with high-level influence and reach within the country were chosen as the key players to entrust with funds for the translation and publishing of the book. Because of these inside sources, the book has been “legitimately” published within Russia, thus avoiding any trouble with the government. Seven thousand copies of the book have been printed, and the most recent update reports the incorporation of the translated “Maximize Your Influence” into a bi-annual training program for evangelical pastors and their ministry teams in Russia.
“Maximize Your Influence” is endorsed by OneHope president Rob Hoskins, Avail leadership consultant Sam Chand, and YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald. The Russian translation opens the digital age to pastors in a country where the truth may be limited – but the internet with its possibilities for sharing the gospel is not.
Navigating your path can be challenging. Learning to let go of idols, offenses and hurt (especially from the Church) isn’t easy, but it’s incredibly necessary. Read this month’s INNER VIEW with award-winning writer Sarah Sumpolec as she shares about the speed bumps she’s had to overcome in her walk with God.
BIO: Sarah Sumpolec is a writer and producer who is particularly passionate about the tween, teen, and family markets. She’s a traditionally published, award-winning novelist with seven teen novels. She began writing for TV and film in 2004 after graduating from the Act One Hollywood Program. She worked in development alongside Vonda Skelton to launch the teen intern program at the Gideon Media Arts & Film Festival and worked on short films and major features in a variety of capacities refining her career. She has a nurturing heart and a passion to mentor writers to see them develop award-winning content. Her family has been involved in the entertainment industry for a long while; two of her three daughters work as professional actresses, and when her youngest was 12 years old, she toured the country on the National Broadway tour of Annie. The family has recently moved to Los Angeles to continue their careers, and Sarah remains passionate about writing and producing content that allows teens (ages 8-18) to flourish and discover their identity and purpose.
Sarah will be leading an Influence Women Mentorship track on writing this coming April. Register at influencewomen.org!
Kathleen Cooke: How has God walked with you through the roller-coaster of a career as a writer?
Sarah Sumpolec: Oh, I could write a book. Quite honestly, I’ve been in a wilderness season that has dragged on far longer than I ever anticipated. I’m still very much in it. But as painful as it has been at times, it has also been precious. I recognize how God has been by my side to transform me on the inside, even as I walk through a barren landscape. How He gently but persistently calls me to keep my eyes fixed on Him alone. Even when everything falls apart and nothing looks the way you had hoped or imagined – He is the treasure. But keeping my eyes on Jesus, abiding in the truth of who He is, means I must ignore all of the things that come at me from the world that try to paint a different reality. It means I must choose joy when grief threatens to flood me. I must choose joy when I face yet another rejection. I must choose joy when yet someone or something else tries to tell me I don’t belong. Because if He didn’t say it, then it’s not true.
Choosing joy is no small thing and I feel like I’ve had increased opportunities to choose joy at ever-deepening levels. Because “everything falling apart and nothing looking the way we had hoped or imagined”? That’s been our journey. Joy can’t wait until things have changed because then my joy is because of that external thing that has changed. No, I have to choose joy here and now, when my hands are empty, and I’ve got nothing to offer except myself. I will “praise before the breakthrough” because He truly is enough.
Kathleen:It takes grit and ambition to carve out a writing career. How do you live in the “wait” and the writing and re-writing and more re-writing, knowing God’s got you?
Sarah: As a young teen, before I met Jesus, I started working in the theater and assistant directing in my local theater. In college, I continued that journey as a double major in Theater and Psychology – I dreamed of being an actor, director, and playwright. Enter Jesus. By the time I was a senior and had grown considerably in my walk, God showed me how the theater was an idol in my life, and that it needed to go. I quickly dropped my major with just one class left to take and walked away from it completely. I didn’t want anything between Jesus and me! And in many ways, that set the tone for my walk with Jesus. When we lay down our own ambitions and dreams, it is only then we can make room for Him to plant new ones in our hearts. I always think of Abraham and Sarah – and how – in their urgency to “help” God’s promise come along, Ishmael was born. But he was not the son of promise. If you try to get things your own way, circumventing God’s plan, you could end up with something that God didn’t mean for you to have. His way is always better. The things He has planned for me will come in my pursuit of Him – not in my pursuit of those “things”.
That allows me to let go of things whenever He nudges me that I’m holding something too tightly, or something that I shouldn’t be holding at all. I used to want the lights shining on me, and now I’m content to be invisible. Being invisible is a weird place, too, but because I know that I’m not invisible to Him, I can be at peace even in this place. Anonymity can become a comfort zone, too – for example – I was recently invited onto a podcast, a live radio show, and asked for this interview!! Because God has had me hidden for so long, doing interviews makes me uncomfortable! So I have found we need to find a balance to be willing to go when He says go, and let go when He says let go and seek to be sensitive enough to His voice to know the difference.
Kathleen: The industry is rotted with promises that are often never fulfilled and people who say and do damaging things which affect creative and artistic endeavors. What has God taught you about forgiveness and moving forward?
Sarah: I didn’t grow up in the Church (I have a wild testimony!), and I think one of the things that surprised me most about Christianity early was seeing how badly some Christians treat other Christians. Over the years, some of the hardest things I have had to endure came at the hands of people who called themselves believers. I learned very early on – thanks to an amazing discipleship group where I was truly healed and set free – that I can never use God’s people as a measure of who He truly is. Sadly, they just aren’t always a good reflection of Him.
But the second piece of that is that forgiveness is a choice. Unforgiveness is a sin that will hurt us if we don’t deal with it. It will choke us like an out-of-control weed if we don’t cut it off. It must be dealt with swiftly. The beauty of choosing forgiveness is I can choose it even if my feelings aren’t there yet. The feelings will catch up eventually. Choosing forgiveness, then praying blessings for those that have wronged you helps your heart line up correctly. I find this is something I go back to over and over in my walk, because, well, offenses happen, don’t they?
Kathleen: God tells us more times in the Bible to “go” and influence the world than He tells us to stay put. Why is this important for someone working in the industry to learn?
Sarah: Right before the COVID shutdown, our family received some surprising direction from God. We were on a completely different path, merrily walking along, thinking that the path we walked made sense. Then everything changed; all because a college kid looked at us and said, “Why would you do that?” Little did she know that her question prompted some deep prayer and soul-searching for us all. And strangely, the idea of “We are all moving to Hollywood” didn’t seem so strange anymore. It seemed like it is what we were supposed to figure out all along. But when I say our lives were upended, it’s not an exaggeration. And it’s been hard. Really hard. I think too many Christians believe following God should be this smooth, even road, and I’ve found that to not be the case. Sometimes your promised land has giants, but when God leads, nothing is impossible.
Teaching in the public school system taught me long ago that we are all constantly influencing people around us. Whatever is in us oozes out into the world around us. Our internal world and personal deep and abiding connection with Christ is the most important thing to care for. Because it is from that core that all influence happens.
The question for me really is – what kind of influence am I? Am I bringing words of faith and hope into the world around me? Sometimes that is all you can do, and that is enough.
The Christian witness and work of these Russian pastors is especially critical as the war between Russia and the Ukraine wages on. While the obstacles for these pastors are high, the opportunities also abound, with the digital age removing barriers to sharing the gospel. Translated by Russian nationals, Maximize Your Influence helps these pastors grasp the mindset for communicating in the digital age, and the strategies to make their digital outreach effective.
“Nothing matters more than the gospel,” shares Phil Cooke. “As an outreach of The Influence Lab, I’m honored to see my books translated as resources for pastors in nations who don’t have access to all we have in the U.S.”
This is not the first time Phil’s books have been translated into other languages, and more translations are currently in progress. Taiwanese translations of Phil’s leadership articles for church planters and workers are in process and funds are being raised for translating Maximize Your Influence into Tamil for pastors in Tamil Nadu, a state in Southern India.
Do you have a heart for the nations? Your partnership with The Influence Lab has a global impact, equipping pastors in war-torn countries and places where training for Christian workers is a desperate need.
Can you help? Your gift today makes it possible for the strategic work of training pastors in other countries to effectively share the gospel in the digital age. Give today!
Special offer! For your gift of $35.00 or more to The Influence Lab, you’ll receive your choice of four books by Phil and Kathlene Cooke as our “thank you!” Want to do more? Become a monthly partner with a recurring donation of $35 or more and choose two books as our “thank you.”
Meet Kelsey Guerra, the new coordinator for Influence Lab Women Nashville!
Bio: Kelsey grew up acting professionally in Hollywood, signing with her first agent at the age of seven. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Vanguard University and pursued a Broadway, TV, and Film career in New York upon graduating. Her work eventually brought her back to Hollywood, where she co-founded thisishardtoread Productions and is an award-winning producer, writer, and actor on the award-winning feature comedy/mockumentary film, RE-OPENING. Favorite career highlights include LIFE PARTNERS (Tribeca & Sundance Film Festival), BLACK NOVEMBER, THE VERONICA MARS MOVIE (Vivica Fox), PAN AM (ABC), ROYAL PAINS (USA), and BAD TEACHER (CBS).
Kathleen Cooke: Tell us about you! What’s your story, and what do you do in the media and entertainment industry?
Kelsey Guerra: I am co-founder of thisishardtoread Productions with my husband, and we create comedies with heart. I’m a producer, writer, director, and actor – not necessarily all at the same time!
Kathleen: How and why have you gotten involved with Influence Lab Women as the new Nashville Chapter Coordinator?
Kelsey: I recently moved to the greater Nashville area from L.A./Hollywood for the main purpose of collaborating with like-minded industry professionals. I was tired of waiting for some “big break” that would never come, and after producing my own feature film during the pandemic, I realized that Hollywood and the industry is so much bigger than the box we put it in, and Nashville was the place where I felt called to create a movement with people who felt the same way.
Kathleen: When is the Influence Lab Women Nashville launch, and what’s happening?
Kelsey: We are going to start with a small gathering of women at the end of October who are excited to get involved with our mission – to bring women in the industry together who want to encourage, uplift, and empower each other. Let’s get to know each other and bring together others who would like to have a local community of creators and industry professionals.
Reach out to me at: email@example.com if you would like to be a part of the group. Once we have a core group of women, we can expand our reach to others who would also like to join us for a larger launch in January 2023.