30 August 2013
60 seconds with Lynn Green
We find out more about the woman set to lead the Baptist Union into the future from September, Lynn Green. As a regional minister with the Southern Counties Baptist Association, she has been caring for 45 churches in Berkshire.
"But they don't have nuns in Baptist churches?" I thought as God woke me up in the night and said he had something for me to do. This happened after reading a Gideon Bible in my early teens, still not going to church. A year later I rang the minister to be baptised. I was never forced back to church but it did eventually dawn on me that I would have to return and my family came back with me. At 16 I was trying to work out what God had meant through the lenses of other people's perspectives and my minister, from a Brethren background, was very supportive but didn't know what to do with me. Was I called to be a vicar's wife? A scary thought for my boyfriend at the time (now husband).It was only at Spring Harvest in 1987, while I was a marketing manager in London, that a pastoral deaconess actually said: "You have a calling to ministry." I started to preach and enrolled at Regents Park College, Oxford, aged 26.
It is an interesting time of transition for the Baptist Union. We have been through prayerful heart searching in the last couple of years and recognise that while it was money that prompted us to address issues, it is timely and much-needed. A renewed vision has emerged and someone needs to take it forward – this happens to be me.
I am passionate about our national vision; to grow healthy churches, in relationship, for mission. I am trying to draw what is already established into a deeper reality and be accountable to our five core values – to be a prophetic, sacrificial, inclusive, missionary and worshipping community.
For this role I was considered for who I am; and part of that is a woman, a wife and a mother. People may make a big deal of the first woman BUGB general secretary but this isn't really a key thing. I feel deeply honoured, humbled and excited. It has partly become possible because people have been willing to think outside the box. That different thinking symbolises something hopeful for other women and, indeed, men. I see my calling as a minister and my commitment as a wife and mother as part of one ministry, rather than as conflicting demands.
We want to stop talking about mission and simply get on with it. There is a danger in any national structure to get so involved in thinking what the future might hold that it draws energy away from actually doing it. Local church is a vital expression of who we are and we want to be releasing and supportive. There are many competing cultures and ideas. We all need a renewed confidence in the good news of Jesus, not in an arrogant way, but recognising we have much to bring to the table. Let's be together as much as we can, not just to have a big knees-up, but to develop a pioneering mindset.
When we became foster carers last November we had no idea such a move of God was going on. It is only over recent months I have been sent information on campaigns, such as Home for Good [run by the Alliance, CCPAS and Care for the Family]. We now have a Special Guardianship Order for our foster children so they are with us long-term. We believe God entrusted them to us and our teenagers were part of our family decision to offer them a home. It is a whole new world but also a painful journey because, with friends and family care, it means our friend lost custody of their children to us – a challenging dynamic. The experience provided a glimpse into situations in which many children and families find themselves – an eye-opener. It is an upheaval but it can, by the grace of God, make a real difference.
I am an optimist, in a godly sense, and I am excited about the possibilities that come with tremendous challenge. We have many challenges but these are key: transitioning from inherited church into missional church; diversity and younger leaders. We must be more missional in our core being, as well as increase diversity. Importantly it is about integration and being connected and woven together. We want to grow younger, while valuing the huge contribution older people make. Unless we make space for younger generations we will not grow. Amazing things are happening but let's not rest on our laurels.
Interview by Lucy Cooper @lucyacooper