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Recommendations to the Presidential Candidates

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It appears Mitt Romney has virtually won the GOP race for the nomination. Therefore, it’s time to focus on the race between him and President Obama for 2012. From now until November, I’ll occasionally write about the candidates from a media perspective, so I’ll start here with a couple of recommendations. This isn’t about ideology, it’s about perception and how the candidates engage the media. Here’s one bit of advice each could use: read more

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The 10 Biggest Myths About Hollywood

There are many misconceptions about the Hollywood; these are the biggest myths I've encountered.

1. Hollywood hates Christians. The fact is, Hollywood—and most of the mainstream media—is ignorant of all things “Christian.” Most of the media leaders in this country are simply not people of any faith background, so while it may appear they dislike issues of faith, the truth is they just don’t get it. In fact, the majority of people I’ve encountered at high levels of influence in the industry are very interested when we discuss spiritual issues and have no problem at all with my faith.

2. All I need is a great script. The process of making movies or television programming is complex and multi-layered. Many years ago, a major industry magazine did a feature story on “The Best Scripts No One Will Ever Produce.” Today, at industry gatherings, we still discuss brilliant scripts floating around town and why they’re not getting produced. It’s often a matter of finding the right cast and crew, political or cultural timing, budget issues, legal problems and more. A great script is a critical starting point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean clear sailing for your project. read more

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Why Some Pioneering Christian Media Ministries Survived

Regarding my last post on why so many pioneering media ministries collapsed, why did others survive? What did they have that others didn’t? Did God just bless them more, or are there identifiable traits that we could focus on and learn for the future. I think the latter’s true, and here’s a few thoughts why some pioneering Christian media ministries have not just survived, but thrived:

1. They weren’t afraid to change. When Joyce Meyer called me into our first meeting, she had frankly hit a wall. Her fundraising, donor development, TV and mail response—all of it was pretty flat. It took some time, but I had to make her understand how critical it was to change, and that there was no going back. It took a few months of give and take, but when she finally “got it,” a light went on and she never looked back. About that time, her youngest son, Dan, came onboard as ministry COO and helped me take it to another level entirely. He took her to the Hillsong Conference in Australia, and when she saw that, she came back a changed woman. She let us make employee changes, redesign the TV department, lose the dress codes, make some structural changes in the organization, and in a very short time, things dramatically turned around. Now today, Joyce Meyer lives for change both personally and professionally, and her response from donors and her audience is incredible. read more

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Is the Pioneering Age of Religious Media Over?

Of the classic and pioneering media ministries of the last 50 years, very few are recognizable anymore. As a result, I believe that era is definitely over.

The Crystal Cathedral has officially closed escrow and the iconic glass sanctuary designed by architect Philip Johnson is now a Catholic church. But the sale represents much more than how one media ministry lost it’s way.

Oral Roberts built the most successful media ministry of his time, and the massive financial response built a university. But it became apparent that a second generation of leadership couldn’t sustain it.

Today, his son Richard has left the university and the ministry media outreach is a fraction of the size it was at one time. Now, thanks to new leadership like Mart Green and Dr. Mark Rutland, Oral Roberts University is experiencing a rebirth and explosion in growth, but only because it’s in fresh, new hands. read more

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For 2012, Let’s Get Serious About New Year’s Resolutions

Every year we make New Year’s resolutions, and every year we forget them by March. But what if we could actually make our goals happen? What if we could actually stick with it?

To make resolutions work we have to first learn how to make change happen in our lives—how to embrace it, and how it use it to take us to the next level. So this year, before you lock in resolutions, let’s study this list of how to position ourselves for change. I’ll pulled these from my book Jolt! and I think they’ll help you in 2012: read more

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Do We Have Too Many Ministry Divas?

We’re seeing a real rise in what I would call “ministry divas.” These are men and women who are pastors, or ministry or spiritual leaders whose focus is more on themselves than the people they serve. As a public service to our readers, the global research team at Cooke Pictures has developed a list of warning signs that someone might be a ministry diva. The following warning signs can apply to either a man or a woman:

1. He doesn’t participate in worship. He only comes out to preach.
2. He’s escorted on and off the platform so he doesn’t actually have to mingle with people.
3. He has multiple assistants—or what some call “armor-bearers” to carry his cell phone, Bible, man-purse, etc.
4. He doesn’t travel that much, but needs a private jet when he does.
5. When he visits other churches, he naturally assumes he’ll get either a seat on the platform or a front row seat.
6. When he promotes his books, he always calls it a “best-seller” even though it wasn’t.
7. He makes ever growing demands on the church for more free time, bigger perks, larger personal staff, etc.
8. He spends more on his wardrobe and cars than the church spends on the children’s program.
9. Divorce is OK for him, because of the ministry pressures he’s under. So when it happens, he doesn’t need to step down or submit to counseling—he doesn’t need it.
10. When he advertises a conference in magazines or other places, his picture is the biggest thing on the ad.

Have you noticed other warning signs we should be looking for? read more

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Occupy Wall Street: Will The Strategy Work?

Whatever you think about the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS), it's instructive to take a look at the strategy. Today, anyone who needs to engage the larger culture to share an important message needs to think seriously about issues like perception, platforms, competition, timing, passion and more. That's why churches, ministries and nonprofit organizations could learn from what's working and not working with Occupy Wall Street.

At our company, Cooke Pictures, our first job is to help our clients get noticed in a crowded, cluttered marketplace of ideas. Then, it's to get that target audience to embrace or act on those ideas. From that perspective, here's a few strategy related thoughts about Occupy Wall Street: read more

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Should Telethons Be Re-run?

TV telethons have become a staple of Christian broadcasting networks. Nearly all non-commercial networks do them, and they’re a key way to motivate viewers to support their programming. I’m not against telethons, and I’m wide open to any good idea what will help finance better programming. After all, everyone from causes like Muscular Dystrophy, to Public Broadcasting does them regularly, so whatever you may think of the concept, it seems to work. The question I have is: Is it acceptable to re-play or re-run telethons? After all, it’s about raising money, and in the vast majority of telethons, there are “live” elements like telling us the amount of money that’s coming in, the number of callers, and some even have live graphics telling you how many phones are busy, or clocks counting down to the total. (Remember the classic thermometer?)

Of course all of these techniques are designed to increase the urgency and drive people to the phones to give. However, when the show is re-run, all those numbers, amounts, and requests aren’t true anymore. Essentially, are they raising money on false pretenses?

Plus – it opens the door to a lot of confusion on other issues. For instance, recently, Trinity Broadcasting Network announced that Paul Crouch Jr. was leaving the network. But by replaying an apparently old telethon this past week, we see Paul Jr. prominently on the stage throughout the broadcast. That leaves a lot of questions in people’s minds. What’s the truth here?

I’d love to hear your opinion. I’m not even getting into the questionable theology that you hear on some networks, stretching scripture to encourage people to give. Maybe we’ll talk about that some other time. And as I mentioned, it’s not the concept of telethons that’s being questioned here. I’m cool with that. It’s just the idea of re-running something that’s already happened for purposes of raising money.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Or should television networks – especially Christian television networks – have more integrity and give us the real scoop on how they raise money? read more

Brenda J. Davis

Paying Tribute to a Champion

Nearly 13 years ago, I was working on the CharismaNow television broadcast when Steve Strang handed me one of the most amazing honors in my professional and personal life. My assignment: Interview David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz at Times Square Church in New York City. The occasion was the 40th anniversary of Teen Challenge, and Charisma had already covered the story in print.

I once lived in New York and had the chance to meet both of these stirring preachers. Like millions of others, I was first exposed to David Wilkerson’s ministry through his book, The Cross and the Switchblade, but when I began attending the Brooklyn Tabernacle, I had the enormous privilege of hearing him preach many times. He and my own pastor, Jim Cymbala, were very close friends. They shared similar passions—their hunger to know God, compassion for the lost, and their desire to see the church fully engaged in fulfilling its calling and mission in the world. read more

Using Failure Wisely

You cannot fail if you never quit. What looks like failure today is merely a stepping-stone into your future. The lessons learned through the difficult places along the path will cause you to accelerate into a new level.




Don't allow the frustrations, losses and uncertainty of today cause you to miss your tomorrow. Declare that quitting is not an option. Declare that failure is not an option. Declare that your only option is winning and that today you are stepping into your future. read more

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