CONTENT vs CONTAINER
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.
CAN WE FLIP THE CHURCH?
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.
Sako Neese has been teaching since 1998 and has studied and applied various educational models. Since she’s implemented the “flip” model, she’s seen incredible turnaround and growth in her students. So together we’ve started mapping out an answer to the question, “What would a flip church look like?”
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:18-20
Baptizing + Teaching = Discipleship
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).
Community + Training = Leadership
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
- team work
- social skills
- communicating the gospel
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 what a four week series at Wellspring.Live Church may look like. 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.