Ministry Leaders, Has Your Message Changed Since COVID-19 Began?


While we can't be sure of a COVID-19 vaccine delivery date or the best treatment plan start date, for most, our best guess is that we're somewhere at the mid-point of the pandemic.

In the worst case, states like California and Hawaii are still in hysterical mode and keeping things shut down or severely limited, while in others like Texas and South Carolina, things are opening up pretty well.

As a result, more and more pastors and ministry leaders are asking, "What's next?" "How do I prepare for the next phase of the virus?" Here's my advice:

The important issue for leaders is that if you have a mission or message, it's time to change. Our original message was to encourage people and offer hope to help fight the fear and mystery of this new illness. But now, people are adjusting, and more data is coming in giving us a better picture of what's really happening out there.

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From the start we heard the messages about "a new normal," "things are going to be different" and "we're living in unprecedented times." But now we're pretty tired of those worn-out messages. For pastors and church leaders, our focus was shifting to livestream worship, making people feel comfortable with that change and staying connected online.

But it's time for a new message.

It's important to understand that the mental state of your congregation, followers or audience isn't the same as it was at the start of the shutdown. People are adjusting and ready to learn about the way out—not just of this virus, but the way out of unemployment, hopelessness, frustration and overall malaise that's taken over the world.

Leaders, it's time to turn the corner and rethink your message as we begin to emerge from the crisis. Those who understand this will capture the attention of the public. But those who stay stuck on the same repeating message will become more and more irrelevant.

It's time to start preparing your followers, congregation or audience for the way out.

Phil Cooke has produced TV and film programming in more than 60 countries around the world, and in the process, been shot at, survived two military coups, fallen out of a helicopter and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time—through his company Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles, California—he's helped some of the largest Christian and nonprofit organizations in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.

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