Chris Yaw Interviews L. Gregory Jones: Got the Courage for Traditional Innovation?

Taken with permission from

Taking what's best of the old and freshening it up with the new is the challenging work facing nearly every congregation today says Duke University theologian,author, and UMC minister L. Gregory Jones - so how do we do this?

Dr. Jones says one strategy is that church leaders need to keep up on the latest, via TED talks and reading creatively and widely to move away from the traditional 'chaplain' role of yesteryear and into that of an innovator and change agent.

May the words of this gifted theologian stir our imaginations!


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L. Gregory Jones is out to help people more deeply imagine God's possibilities. Here are my notes from the inverview:

Traditional Innovation

It's the delicate balance of valuing and curating the gold of our heritage and melding it with the life-giving newness that's breaking in that will be the key to survival and even growth in the Church in this new age.

God's Love Makes Us Inventors

Dr. Jones says when we deepen the appreciation of God's love for us and others we find inspiration for ways to meet them in their lives. How is God making us inventors today?

Cultivate Courage and Resilience

While charisma and dynamic preaching seem like the best tools Christian leaders can have, Dr. Jones says having the courage to take a stand and the resilience to keep on keeping on are far more helpful. How are you cultivating these in your ministry?

About L. Gregory Jones

L. Gregory Jones is the Senior Strategist for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School, as an Affiliated Faculty member of Duke Corporate Education, and as Special Assistant to the President of Wake Forest University. He is also writing a book, tentatively entitled Traditioned Innovation: Cultivating Leadership for which We Year.  He is a leader and strategist whose creative engagement has helped institutions across the world to create transformational resource models. Greg has used these gifts in many different roles, most recently as Duke University's Vice President and Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Programs, and prior to that as Dean of Duke's Divinity School (1997-2010) where he led the institution to a significant expansion of resources, networks and impact. Greg is a gifted speaker, a noted writer, and a trusted advisor who helps leaders imagine new possibilities and shape cultures for organizational success and productivity.

Greg is the author or editor of 16 books, including the co-authored Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven: Community Practices for Making Peace (with Celestin Musekura, in 2010), the co-authored Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry (with Kevin R. Armstrong, in 2006), Everyday Matters: Intersections of Life and Faith(2003), and the widely acclaimed Embodying Forgiveness (1995). Jones, an ordained United Methodist pastor, has published more than 200 articles in a variety of publications. He is an editor-at-large for Christian Century magazine, and writes a regular column for Faith & Leadership, the web magazine published by Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

Books Dr. Jones Recommends

Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us  - Christine Pohl

Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know  - David Bowerstein and Susan Davis

Thin Blue Smoke  - Doug Worgul