The price you will pay for being a sheep
Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke

I was talking to our creative team at Cooke Pictures recently about the number of churches and ministries who take the easy way out by copying more successful organizations. Our Lead Strategist, Dawn Nicole Baldwin spoke up on the issue, and I thought her take was worth sharing:

Dawn:  I watched a herd of sheep recently, and without being disrespectful, I thought of some churches I’ve visited in the past. Sheep aren’t courageous pioneers. They don’t follow new trails. They simply follow the other sheep in front, who’s probably being guided by a barking dog (or whatever is making the most noise.) It made me realize that when it comes to churches and ministries, the truth is, it’s really easy to follow the crowd or to imitate what everyone else is doing or to want a website, logo, outreach program, (or fill-in-the-blank) just like a Big Name Church or Ministry.

(Side note: If I see one more website—or get one more request—for a website that looks just like Hillsong Church, I’m going to poke my eyes out with pencils.)

But I believe the price of being a sheep is much steeper than we can imagine when it comes to ministry. When you copy a successful church or ministry, you’re robbing the world of what it is your church is uniquely wired to offer. You’re forcing their identity on yours – rather than celebrating the calling and story of what makes your organization distinctive.

Don’t get me wrong. I love getting inspired by others who’ve gone before me and look for ways to build upon those ideas to make them my own. But as my friend Mark Batterson has so eloquently put it, “When inspiration stops short and becomes imitation, it’s suicide.”

Discovering your purpose and braving new trails is hard. It takes work, and yes, it can be very lonely. But I can tell you that after working with hundreds of churches and ministry organizations across the country, I can confirm that the reward is worth it.


Phil Cooke is a producer and media consultant to churches and ministries across the country. His latest book is “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.” Find out more at

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