A Study in Adaptive Leadership: How Christian Associates’ Teams and Individuals in Europe Navigate Change

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This study in adaptive leadership reveals what factors contributed to how leaders and teams navigate change within the church planting context of Christian Associates (CA) Europe. In the beginning chapter, I lay the foundation for the study of individuals and teams within CA by describing my research, CA's history, and the significance of the study to me as an adaptive leader. In Chapters 2 and 3, I describe the literature review around adaptive leadership principles, differentiating between adaptive challenges and technical problems, and utilize Bolman and Deal's symbolic framework in order to reveal adaptive capacities within the symbolic nature of CA as a movement. CA is revealed to be a missional tribe in how members move and adapt for the sake of relationships and locations. I outline my research methodology, describe my findings and conduct an analysis in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. I triangulated methods of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observations and data within CA in order to ensure validity and reliability through grounded theory.

CA has leaders who lead employing adaptive capacities of persevering through trial in the transient nature of the teams and cities, using storytelling to lead change, and becoming adaptive organizations able to distinguish between technical problems and adaptive challenges. In Chapter 7, I describe a pilot study used with the leadership team of CA Europe in order to reveal an adaptive approach to navigating change. In Chapter 8, I make recommendations for further study that includes presidential succession planning, integrating more female voices into the leadership of CA, and the use of the StrengthsFinder™ with teams and individuals. In the conclusion, I tie the research together by outlining the next challenge CA is facing as another presidential transition begins.

Mentor: Charles Fleming

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Fleming, Charles

Document Type





Christian Associates Europe, Church development, Evangelistic work, Christian leadership, Executive succession


Missions and World Christianity


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