Join Phil Cooke’s Father’s Day Movement: Want to Reconnect? Then Disconnect

Phil Cooke


Phil Cooke is on a crusade. The internationally known writer and speaker, who leads two media companies (Cooke Pictures and TWC Films), has produced media programming in more than 40 countries, appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, and helped some of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world tell their story, wants you to stop consuming media… at least for a day.

Why?  The answer is easy.

He had a father who paid attention to him, and it changed his life.

In a recent interview, I asked Phil to name the top influencers in his life. His answers ranged throughout the world of media, from authors, to movies, to TV evangelists. In fact, Phil had one of the most unusual lists of anyone I have ever interviewed. (He is one of the few other Ph.D.’s I have met in Hollywood, and the only one whose doctorate is in theology.)

Phil listed his top influencers as:

  • Confederacy of Dunces (novel by John Kennedy Toole)
  • Film Director Ingmar Bergman
  • Movie:  Lawrence of Arabia
  • Writer C.S. Lewis
  • Francis Schaeffer
  • William Shakespeare
  • Mark Twain
  • Oral Roberts
  • Franco Zeffirilli’s film Jesus of Nazareth
  • Sabre Jet Ace (a novel I read in grade school.  It was the first time I read a novel where the hero died.  It introduced me to tragedy.)
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Leadership Expert John Maxwell
  • Pastor Jack Hayford
  • Mystery Writer Raymond Chandler

However, it was his first two answers that really caught my attention:

  • The Bible
  • My father, Pastor Billy Cooke

That’s right, Phil’s father ranked next to the Bible as the greatest influence in his life and vocation. (It wasn’t a contrived Father’s Day response either, as the interview took place months ago.) As a the stereotypical overworked pastor, Phil’s father refused to surrender to the stereotypical pattern of pastors who neglect their own families.

Billy Cooke gave his son his undivided attention, and it changed his life.

Now Phil is concerned that such fatherly attention is going the way of the Dodo. So he’s on a crusade to get Dad’s across America to give up media for Father’s day in order to give their families undivided attention. Let me repeat that for those of you who were distracted the first time I said it, Phil wants you to disconnect this Father’s Day.

I KNOW that I need it. For years I was very disciplined about not being online in the evening so as to be fully available to my kids. At one point I was the only person in our family who didn’t have a laptop just so I was forced to leave my work at the office. But somewhere over the past two years that discipline went right out the window.

So I am joining Phil’s crusade, at least for a day.  Maybe you should consider it as well. Read his appeal below, and join the movement this Father’s Day.

(See also, articles on Phil’s campaign in Wired MagazineThe Huffington Post, and Fox News.)


Father’s Day: Want to Reconnect? Then Disconnect

by Phil Cooke in The Change Revolution (Used by permission.)

The research has been conducted and the verdict is in (though we hardly needed it to tell us) – we’re hopelessly addicted to our digital devices. So much so, in fact, that some psychologists are pushing to have “Internet Addiction” broadly classified as a clinical disorder.   But isn’t it really affirmation that we can’t get enough of?  We want people to acknowledge us, interact with us, consider our opinions, laugh at our jokes, and take part in our conversations.  And these are all legitimate, natural wants and needs, mind you.  Although we may seek the approval and affirmation of acquaintances, colleagues and classmates less if we received it from our families more.

*65% of North Americans spend more time with their computer than with their spouse.

**45% of workers say they can’t go more than 15 minutes without an interruption.

**50% of people leave their mobile phones on when they go to bed.

**Workers report that they leave their mobile phones on during movies, church & even sex.

Mobile devices, computers and social media are wonderful things, indeed. They’ve transformed our lives and our world in countless positive ways.  But make no mistake, while we’re more connected than ever (and maybe because we’re more “connected” than ever), we’re more disconnected than ever from our families.

Ever texted your child in his or her room to tell them that dinner is ready? Are instant messages replacing conversations at the dinner table?  Are you talking to your kids about their “status”? Or, reading about it on Facebook?

Because I’m sure this rings true to more of us than it should, I’m issuing a challenge today to dads across the country.


That’s right.  On June 19th, Father’s Day, disconnect your digital device for 24 hours and reconnect with your family.

You’ll survive.  I promise.

In fact, I suspect you’ll be shocked…

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PS  Phil’s book: “Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-Profits Impact the Culture and Others Don’t” had an enormous influence on my understanding of social media and cultural impact. It probably helped inspire Paparazzi in the Hands of an Angry God (not that I’ll never admit it.)  His new book “Jolt!: Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing” shares his secrets of making today’s culture of disruption and change work for you.

2 Replies to “Join Phil Cooke’s Father’s Day Movement: Want to Reconnect? Then Disconnect”

  1. In a twist of irony only a filmmaker could love, my children gave me an IPad for Father's Day present. Because of my commitment to disconnect for the day, I had to wait until TODAY to play with it!
    PS We had a wonderful media free day (At least I was media free…)

  2. How refreshing to read about an 'important' father who was available to his son and how positively it impacted him. Many stores I've heard recently from younger, spiritually and emotionally healthy people share this trait, it seems. I can understand why.

    I'm trusting in a God who is bigger than my deepest fears to still use my life in spite of, or maybe because of, the needs that were not met by my father or parents.

    I feel both encouraged by knowing what a difference a great father can make and saddened by how I continue to work through the pain and grief of not experiencing the kind of availability that Phil Cooke had with his father.

    My heavenly Father is the only source of hope for healing my heart and meeting that critical need in my life. I know (both intellectually and, at times, experientially) He is the only One who is always available to me. He is the only One who offers me the unconditional love I seek.

    Yet, the depths of my subconscious soul doesn't seem to quite 'get it'. Far too often I find myself searching elsewhere for what only He has to offer.

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