Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Flipped by Doug Pagitt

In One Hundred Words (or a lot less): This is a book ostensibly about God, but is really about dramatic change, which Doug calls “the flip”. What do flips look like, when should we do them, and how has Doug flipped during his life? Doug invites us into his experience of dramatic change and invites us to embrace our own flips as well.

Who Should Read It? People who are terrified of change (Pro-Tip: When you give them the book, don’t necessarily tell them that it is about change.)

How Long? About two hundred easy-to-read pages

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Flipped is not a book about God.

You could be forgiven for having that misconception.  The full title of the book, the back of the book jacket, and many of its book reviews all seem to talk about God a lot. Even Doug seems to talk about it a lot, laying out what appears to be the thesis of his book in the very first pages of the book: “If God were not a separate being from all things in the cosmos, then we need not simply say God exists. We can say that God is existence. All is In God.” (11)

However, if you look at the trajectory of Doug’s writing career, especially his other most recent books, where he writes manual after manual for how churches can change in response to the changing religious culture[1]; reflect on at Doug’s ministerial career as one of the first post-modern Christian pioneers, publicly innovating a new form of spiritual community at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, or even just read a few more pages, the secret it out: this is not a book about God, this is a book about dramatic change that leads to dramatic growth, or as Doug calls it, “a flip.”

While it can get buried under the narrative, if you examine closely, you’ll notice that Flipped lays out guidelines about how to navigate that moment where you are invited to take on an idea that could change your life forever. It talks about the place that change occupies in our culture (18), how how Jesus was someone who flipped people’s lives[2], (20) why we’re rarely flipped by an idea that hasn’t percolated already in our lives, (23) and how to figure when flipping is a good idea (or not.) (104)

The fact that Doug’s change is about God is almost incidental. His flip might not flip you. (It didn’t flip me[3].) It is merely Doug’s way of publicly peeling back the layers of his experience, so we can better understand how to navigate our own moments of dramatic change, knowing that if Doug came out okay on the end, we can too.

In the end, this is the greatest gift that Doug’s book offers us. By coming in at the topic of dramatic change from a very sideways angle, in a tone that’s personal, conversational and lighthearted, it helps people consider, sometimes without knowing that they’re considering it, what it might look like to make a flip and come out on the other end. In a world that’s undergoing more change than it has in the last five hundred years, that is a great gift indeed.

(Want to know other places Doug is flipping about now? Check out my interview with him, where we talk about his conversion experience and the evolution of Solomon’s Porch.)


[1] Church In the Inventive Age. Evangelism in the Inventive Age. Preaching in the Inventive Age.

[2] Because every good Christian book has to mention Jesus as the arch-example of whatever idea they’re exploring. In Doug’s defense, Jesus actually is a really good example for this one.

[3] His flip was not as dramatic for a guy who reads process theology with breakfast. For the record, here are a few of my flips from the last ten years. One: “What? You mean that the Bible isn’t as clear-cut on homosexuality as everyone says it is?” Two: “What? You mean that following Jesus is a radical, sacrificial way of life that looks absolutely nothing like our prevailing culture of empire?” (Thanks Shaine.) Three: “What? You mean that if a group of people call themselves a church but look absolutely nothing like Jesus, they might not, in fact, be a church?”