CEO's come in an change the tone and culture of a company in minutes. Sometimes it seems like that's the most important part of the role. The average tenure of a CEO is under ten years, and many only last three or four. Such a short time to have a large impact. But the average salary of a CEO is over thirteen million! There must be something a good leader does very quickly to change an institution.
Great leaders change the tone. Over and over I hear the story, "Once this leader got here, we all believed it could happen again." Positive leaders make positive results possible. When a leader at the front truly believes there is a way forward, people follow.
So, in the church, who is in charge of tone? When I wrote Happy Church: Pursuing Radical Joy as the People of God a few years ago now, I was concerned that we had lost control of the tone and culture of our churches. It's critical to remember: tone is important and culture is in control. So who's in charge of tone?
Well, first of all, we all are! Every member of a church has a contribution to make to the tone and culture of the body. When John Ortberg wrote the foreword for the book, he said it is about all of us: "I'm not merely talking to pastors here but teachers and small group leaders, worship leaders, Bible study facilitators, youth group counselors, nursery workers, moms and dads and big brothers and little sisters and pew sitters and even the guy who just came because his friend forced him after he lost a bet on a round of golf. All of us. We all contribute." Ortberg continued to say, "It's important. It reflects a joyful God when the people of God celebrate joy." When was the last time you heard laughter in the halls of your church? Resolve this week to come to worship with joy.
Who's in charge of tone at your church? You are. We all are.
But there is no doubt that the leader will lead the way. Pastors, if you are not leading your people into greater joy in fellowship with Christ, you are missing something about leading a church. Just like a CEO who changes the plausibility structures and future hopes of a company in an instant, the pastor can alter the tone of the church. Are you leading from a place of growing joy and peace in Christ?
God is invested in creating a people on earth to bear witness to his goodness, faithfulness, love, grace, salvation...and more. God is creating joyful communities reflecting the reality of his Kingdom and eternal life in Jesus Christ. In a world of deep darkness, God promises to shine his light over a people: "the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising...Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult." (Isaiah 60:2-3, 5) God cares whether the church reflects his glory with joy. It matters to his mission.
Maybe as a church there is a general tone that joy has been forgotten. Maybe as a leader you have lost track of the joy of the Lord. Happy Church can help you reconnect with the sources of this joy. It's critical to set the tone.