Find Your Story, Says Church Branding Trendsetter

"You have to obsess over your story," a Christian marketing guru told pastors and church leaders at a recent conference.

Phil Cooke, author of Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-Profits Impact the Culture and Others Don't, then donned a coonskin cap to emphasize the importance of church storytelling – by telling his own.

Ever since he was a child, he has been an explorer and a writer. He has traveled around the world in his media work, facing imprisonment of his crews, experiencing a drop from a helicopter during a film shoot, and filming in war zones, among other dangerous encounters.

"And I loved every minute of it," he said of his adventures.

Everything in his life clicked together when he searched for and found his story, Cooke shared on Saturday. Churches should go through this same search to find their special focus.

"The two most important days in your life are the day you're born and the day you find out why."

Now, as the Daniel Boone of the Christian media industry, he consults ministries and writes books about trends in the media that can help ministries better engage the culture in the 21st century.

He sees the need for Christians to pioneer cultural trends instead of playing catch up.

Cooke illustrated his speech on trendsetting with information he heard from Ralph Winter, producer of the X-Men movies. Winter said that you need to look at what's going to be popular five years from now, not what's hot today, to really drive trends.

Cool, he contended, does not equate with popularity. What's really cool are originality and innovation.

Cooke directed his speech toward pastors, church leaders, and ministry leaders at the National Religious Broadcasters 2010 Convention & Exposition, held in Nashville, Tenn., on Feb. 27-March 2.