Father & son share a commitment to ministry, leadership
Jan 6, 2014
Florida Baptist Witness

FATHER AND SONS Like his dad before him, John Green spends time with his sons, Fisher 4, and Ransom, 2. Courtesy photo
BRANDON (FBW)—Tommy and John Green, III and IV respectively, say for them fatherhood and friendship intersect in the best way possible.

They also say that having a shared interest in ministry and in leadership is one of the best possible ways for them to deepen their familial bond.

John Green, pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, says he and other young pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention owe a debt of gratitude to pastors in the previous generation. 

“The Bible says we are to honor our elders. These are pastors who helped re-shape the Southern Baptist Convention during the conservative resurgence. We serve in a different Convention because of their battles,” John Green said.

For him, “our elders” includes his father and namesake, J. Thomas “Tommy” Green III, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon for 18 years.

Father and son preach in one another’s churches on occasion, attend conferences together, do short-term missions, and serve together on Florida Baptist Convention’s State Board of Missions. The elder Green is a source of “experience, wisdom and biblical knowledge,” John Green said.

“My dad is a counselor in my life—really one of my best friends. I value his advice,” he said. “I am not an advocate of re-inventing the wheel, so I want to go with what he already knows works.”

As father of three adult sons, Tommy Green said his relationship with his boys changed when they entered adulthood.

FAMILY Tommy Green (far right), pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, his wife, Karen, their son, John Green, pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, his wife, Katherine, and their children, Lyla and Fisher, 4, and Ransom, 2. Courtesy photo
“They are accountable for their own lives and make their own decisions. Now I provide more influence than provision. It is fatherhood at a different level,” he said.

Tommy and Karen Green’s younger sons, Phillip and Matthew, live in the Tampa area, and both are active in church. Phillip is in marketing and Matthew works as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). 

“I have never pushed the boys toward ministry. We let them be who they are, and they always had lots of activities outside of church. We’ve always said that you can have God’s call to every vocation in life—to live life to glorify God whatever your profession,” Tommy Green said.

When John Green told his father he was sensing God’s call to ministry, his father advised the Flagler College student to take a year to think about the next step.

“I wanted him to make sure that this was a true calling, and not something he wanted to do because his dad did it. I told him, ‘Take a year and we’ll see then. You’ll be in school regardless,’” Tommy Green said. “There is a difference between a call and a career choice, and I wanted him to know what God had put in his heart.”

John Green took his father’s advice, and the two didn’t broach the subject again for a year. When the younger Green was confident in his call to ministry, his father supported him fully. Waiting was his father’s “best advice” so far, he said.

Tommy Green recalled telling the pastor of his rural Alabama church that he was “dealing with the call to ministry.”

“He told me to go forward in church and I did. He told the church of my decision, and then announced that I would preach my first sermon the next Sunday. At that point I felt all the blood go out of my body,” he said.

A few years later, Green returned to the church to be a member of his father’s deacon ordination council, and to preach J.T. Green Jr.’s ordination sermon.

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