From Change Management to Culture Change | An Interview with Lyn Weston
Lyn Weston brings a sunny presence into the room with her. Hailing from the beautiful coastlands of Northern Ireland and now living in the Wirral, where she’s still working part-time as a self-supporting parish priest, she approaches life and work with a clear sense of the joy of the Lord – which always makes for an enjoyable conversation.
Lyn was appointed as LICC’s Director of Church of England Relations in September. She’ll be helping Anglican church leaders to equip their congregations to live out their faith in their everyday lives.
The time is ripe for this new role. The Church of England has been developing Setting God’s People Free, a whole-life discipleship programme, for the last two years. Twenty-seven of the Church of England’s 42 dioceses have already signed on to roll out the initiative in 2018-2019, with six more joining in 2020-2021. With more than 800 churches in the largest diocese (Oxford) and almost 200 in the smallest (Portsmouth), Lyn’s talents are likely to be in high demand.
‘Setting God’s People Free is about bringing Church of England leaders together to figure out how best to encourage people that they have a ministry in their everyday context – at work, at home, or anywhere else,’ says Lyn.
‘I was involved in the pilots for the scheme in my previous role as Director of Mission for the Diocese of Chester. We really want to give people confidence to go out into the world as Christ’s representatives. It’s about investing in clergy and laity for the impact that they could have on the nation – literally setting God’s people free to be Christ wherever they are.
‘That’s why I’m so excited for my new role at LICC. My job now is to get out and meet everyone from church members and lay leaders to vicars, archdeacons, and bishops and help them grow a whole-life discipleship culture in churches all over the UK.’
Helping Others Change
Lyn knows a thing or two about culture change. After beginning her career in fashion retail, she spent 27 years as a change management specialist in financial services, helping massive companies like Bank of America and Alliance & Leicester to transform the way they work.
‘People always respond the same way to change,’ Lyn explains. ‘They wonder what’s in it for them. They need someone to help them see the benefits.’ Working with major financial firms, she got very good at guiding people through that process, improving culture in a lasting way without ruffling too many feathers.
She enjoyed the work, and as she worked, she saw how God could use her in her office. ‘I believed it was my long-term calling to be a disciple in the whole of my life – including the business world. It wasn’t necessarily the easiest place to speak about Jesus, but I could be the gospel to the people around me.’ She saw how she could have a ministry for Christ in every bit of her life – even in places that might have seemed surprising, like Bank of America.
Then, on a mission trip to Uganda, Lyn felt God call her to use her skills to serve the church directly. She had already been serving as a lay leader for 14 years, and now, ‘instead of being a disciple in the world of banking, God redirected the passion and gifts he had given me to work with church leaders to nurture more disciplemaking communities.’
As she went through ordination training, she took on the diocesan mission role in Chester, where she got to work helping local churches become more outward-looking. In that role she saw first-hand the positive impact that a whole-life discipleship culture can have on individual churches.
‘Sometimes it’s the churches who feel – wrongly! – that they’re a bit insignificant that have the best stories. I worked with a small church on the edge of an urban area with a declining, older population. They ran LICC’s Fruitfulness on the Frontline in their small groups and they got so into it. Now they’re building a community that’s ready to take on change and focus on how its members can be Christ on their frontlines – with their grandchildren, for example. They see it as more than a sermon series, as an ongoing piece of work.
‘Their passion really struck me. Now they’re blessing other people in their community as a result. They have a real heart of generosity for places that have more access to young people, for example. They’re thinking about how they can support them financially or pray for them. It’s a real picture of the body of Christ.’
A Vision for the Future
Lyn hopes to see many more stories like this unfold across the country in her role with LICC, in churches of all shapes and sizes and on frontlines of all varieties. She’ll be speaking up and down the country, meeting with lay people and church leaders, sharing LICC resources and insights. A typical day might include a morning meeting with a bishop, midday coffee with diocesan leads, and an evening presentation to the local laity and clergy – a broad and exciting brief.
‘After so many years in the world of business, I have a real passion to equip people to live out their discipleship on their frontlines. The church can be a powerful point of equipment for that.
‘Having realised what a huge help LICC’s work could have been to me in my previous career, how it affirms and equips people to be Christ in their everyday lives, I want to make sure other people have access to the resources that can help them see how God is working through them wherever they are.’