The Flip Church Model

Welcome to  Join the conversation and let us know what you think about applying the “flipped classroom” model to the church.


Within the past few years, classrooms all over the world have discovered that students had a wealth of “head knowledge” but no ability to apply it or to work within a team (the bedrock of most organizations around the world).  Also, a large portion of students never even complete the education process.  In the United States alone, only 69% of students who start high school finish four years later.  7200 students drop out of high school each day, totaling 1.3 million a year.  To respond to these shortcomings, many educators worked together to change the classroom model.  Instead of the class being a lecture, it became conversation, Q&A and practical application.  The students receive the information outside of the classroom then bring it to the gathering, along with any questions or comments they may have.  They’re placed in smaller groups to practice tackling ideas with other people.  The teacher moves from being the “keeper of knowledge” to the “applier of knowledge”, from lecturer to facilitator.  An interactive atmosphere builds both the students and the teacher, because through questions and comments everyone is challenged on the subject.  They experience different perspectives and discover new innovations in application.  Also, they learn how to communicate and operate as a team and how to lead.

Clintondale High School near Detroit adopted the flip model with great success.  Before the flip 50% of freshmen failed English and 44% failed math.  They also had 736 discipline cases in one semester.  After the flip, 19% failed English and 13% failed math, and they had 249 discipline cases.


Throughout the years, Coke has come in different bottles and cans.  There is also diversity between locations.  The container is not the product.  It serves to distribute the product.  The product is the content.  The content sees no dramatic change.  Of course, there was the short lived “New” Coke.  Why was it short lived?  Because the content changed.  People bought Coke for the content.  When that content dramatically changed, the customer base was no longer interested.

When we talk about the Flip Church Model (FCM), we’re not talking about changing the content.  We’re talking about a different container (delivery system).  The present system that we’ve seen, experienced, and reproduced for many many years is similar to our classroom and college models.  The people/students gather to hear a teaching/lecture from the professor/sage, then their growth and application depends on them doing outside study, research and practice.  In the main gathering, information is prioritized over the practical application; and then outside of that main gathering, we spend money, time, energy, and relational capital on trying to create discipleship programs and processes.



“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” — John 15:8 [English Standard Version]

Recently I heard an interview with a Pastor Larry Osborne of North Coast Church, a VERY large church (average attendance of 11,000 meeting at four campuses).  He was asked what the future of the church looked like in the U.S., and he said, “At this rate, I see larger and larger facilities reaching fewer and fewer people.”  In his opinion, the typical Sunday service is not effectively or efficiently creating disciples.  Has our model of church, like the classroom, lost it’s full effectiveness?  This is a challenge I believe we must face in our generation.

For the first time in history we have multiple generations walking the earth at the same time who have all learned to digest information in different ways.  The print generation, electronic (radio, TV) generation, and digital generation are ALL attending our churches.  They all receive and process information differently.  Our “presentational” church model worked for the print and electronic generation, but the digitals want to be part of the process of formulating truth.  What we’re talking about is a dialectic model that serves that need.  The dialectic was the form of teaching most often utilized before print made information available to the broader public.  It is communal discovery learning.  Teachers call it the “flip” model.

My wife is a teacher and has seen incredible turnaround and growth in her students as she’s implemented the “flip” model.  So together we’ve started mapping out an answer to the question, “What would a flip church look like?”

Our vision as a church is leaders making leaders.  Our mission to accomplish this vision is developing leaders in Dallas and around the world through immersive learning communities that are Christ-centered and reproducible.  Our definition of “community” is the sum of the three parts: experience God, make friends, and grow as leaders.  We have the content.  Now we need to create an effective delivery system.  In order to flip the church we must shift how we apply “baptism” (immersion in Christ-centered community) and “teaching” (impartation of knowledge and applicable information).

First we move a large portion of the teaching out of the corporate gathering.  To do this we take advantage of the technology.  We post weekly lectures/sermons/talks on the website as videos and podcasts, along with simple notes, questions and possible applications.  Participants review these posts, then bring their answers/ questions and testimonies to the corporate gathering.  In the corporate gathering, we sing worship songs, break into preplanned groups of no more than 10 people with 2 leaders (ideally one leader and one apprentice) to discuss and apply the teaching, and then we have ministry and prayer within these groups.  This model promotes a safe nonjudgemental atmosphere of encouragement and love where we can emphasize:

  • personal study and prayer
  • leadership development
  • worship
  • service
  • ministry
  • team work
  • social skills
  • communicating the gospel
  • accountability

The delivery system is different but not completely different.  Each corporate meeting would still have an aspect of musical worship, prayer, and ministry, but the midsection would be interchangeable between lecture, breakout groups, and testimonials.

The breakouts are formed before the second week and are changed each series of lessons.  If a person visits the church for the first time during a breakout meeting, they’ll join the senior leaders to learn about the church, the vision and how it operates.  Then they’ll be given the opportunity to catch up online and join a group next time.

Below is an example of a four week series.  Members are encouraged to send the teaser video to friends and invite them to the first Corporate Meeting.  This service is very similar to the traditional Sunday service model and will be geared towards guests.  A simple text response will be available at the end of the teaser and at the end of the Sunday message, so that people can register for Breakouts and receive the Midweek Videos and materials.



“A call to membership is a call to discipleship.” — Dhati Lewis

Assimilation often refers to a church’s membership process and answers the question, “How do you move a person from being a guest to being an active, fruitful part of the community?”  Our assimilation process is simple and, after the first step, it becomes very decentralized.

First Time Guest

  1. When people first visit, they spend their first breakout sessions with the senior leadership.
  2. If they decide to continue with the church, they’ll be placed in a breakout group in the future.
  3. From this point, assimilation is equivalent to leadership development.

Leadership Development for Apprentice Leaders

  1. Vision & Values:  Who are we & where are we going?
  2. Foundation:  What do we believe?
  3. Ministry:  How do we serve and operate in the Holy Spirit?
  4. Practical Guidelines & Processes

Just like the corporate meetings, much of the education behind the assimilation and leadership development process is available online.  Meetings are for interaction and practical application.  This means that “Foundation” may be six short teachings, but may only be accompanied by one actual meeting with a mentor leader.  Also, at the same time a person is going through the leadership development, they’ll be gaining valuable practical experience as an apprentice leader.  So during the four steps of leadership development a person is considered an apprentice and:

  1. assists a mentor leader in leading a breakout
  2. is doing a series of video classes on their own time
  3. is meeting with a mentor leader outside of congregation meetings for direction and discussion


FCM is not intended to create “mega-churches” with thousands of people in ever-increasing buildings.  It’s not to raise up platform, celebrity leaders.  It exists to immerse people in God-centered, disciple-making communities.  In FCM, two leaders (one mentor leader and one apprentice leader) are required for every ten participants (congregants); therefore, if we have 100 participants, we’ll need 20 leaders.  If we have 200 participants, we’ll need 40 leaders.  Leadership and leadership development are core values of the Flip Church.  Our goal is to treat each leader as a future Flip Church planter and to provide the training and tools necessary.

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