The Hope of Traditioned Innovation

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White, Victoria Atkinson

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Churches and Christian institutions today face unique challenges in light of the deep trends found throughout their ecology. Complexity and wicked problems have the opportunity to prevail as the deep trends, such as the lure of cities, digitalization and a yearning for soulful connections among Millennials intersect and complicate the generation of solutions. New, and often renewed, habits and practices are needed to create the conditions for generative solutions to arise and strengthen Christian institutions and their leaders as they faithfully bear witness to God’s reign in the past, present and future.

Some critics say the church must start over in order to prove its relevance and value in society. While change and innovation are needed within Christian institutions, this line of thought disregards important values, traditions, stories and knowledge of the past. Traditioned innovation is a way of moving into the future with a creative and hopeful spirit while respecting and bringing forward the best of an institution’s history. Innovating within one’s tradition provides a foundation of faith, familiarity and knowledge on which institutions and their leaders can experiment and improvise their way into a Holy Spirit-inspired future.

Interdisciplinary habits and practices such as those found in improvisation and integrative thinking offer tools for generating innovative and dynamic solutions to many of the wicked problems facing Christian institutions today. This work highlights a few of the most hopeful practices for institutions as they face the deep trends growing and intersecting in their landscape. These habits and practices cultivate the conditions for strong leadership commitments like traditioned innovation to flourish, while also offering hope for tomorrow and a brighter future for those working so diligently to bear witness to the reign of God.


Doctor of Ministry




White, Victoria Atkinson (2016). The Hope of Traditioned Innovation. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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