Every church has its unique set of problems. But church size definitely plays a role in the types of problems you have (enough so that Dr. Tim Keller wrote a free book about it). Small churches face a unique set of challenges, such as limited personnel, limited talent, limited budget, and more. But how do you overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles to create a thriving and excellent ministry? Thankfully, it’s not as complicated as you think. This month I talk to Andrea Olson from Overflow Worship, who regularly coaches small to midsize churches to help improve their worship teams. No matter your church size, there’s a ton of great wisdom in this episode for everyone!
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Alex Enfiedjian 01:01 Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast a monthly podcast for worship leaders. Last month we talked to a few worship leaders at a church of 35,000. And while mega churches are becoming more common through things like multi site strategies, most churches are much much smaller. In fact, the average church size in America is 70 people and churches in many other countries are even smaller than that. And so the reality is for most worship leaders, they are working with very limited resources, both personnel and financial. But size shouldn’t dictate the quality with which we serve the Lord. God wants us to faithfully Shepherd the people. He’s put in our purview. And he’s sovereignly and wisely assigned each of us to the different groups that he chose. The key is to do the best you can with what you’ve been given. The challenge for worship leaders in smaller churches is that they have less to work with. But if you think about the parable of the talents, the servant who was given fewer coins was still able to multiply them and present them back to the master in a better state than when he was given them. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about the unique challenges that small churches face and their corresponding solutions. I’m going to be talking with Andrea Olson, who runs the overflow worship conference in the Midwest. She has been working with small to mid sized churches for almost a decade, training them and developing their worship teams to bring the best they can with what they have. So she is very aware of the challenges that smaller churches face. I also did an episode a few years back called holding high standards in small churches with Kate young, which I’ll link in the show notes. If you know any worship leaders who’d be helped by these topics, please forward these episodes onto them, along with an encouraging word. All right, let’s jump right into the interview with Andrea Olson. Hey, everybody, I am here with Andrea Olson, who is the director of the overflow worship conference, a regional conference in the Midwest, that trains worship teams and worship leaders. Hey, Andrew, how you doing? I’m doing great. How are you doing? I’m doing really well. Um, it’s early, and I haven’t had coffee. But I am awake. So excited to chat with you. Yeah, I’m excited to I did get my coffee, though. I wish I could share it with you. So Andrew, you’ve worked with a lot of midsize and smaller size churches in the Midwest, you go there with your family, you do training workshops with different teams. And I feel like you probably have a really strong understanding of the unique challenges and the problems that smaller churches face. And so that’s why you’re on today is to help listeners in midsize and smaller sized churches do the very best they can with what they have. So I want to just start kind of with a blanket question that you can kind of brain dump all your answers, and then we’ll dig into each of those separately in a little bit. But what are some of the common problems that you see in worship teams of small churches? Like what are the I don’t know, three, four, or five or six core issues that you continually run into when you’re out training these different churches?
Andrea Olson 04:03 Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. And, you know, I get a lot of different questions. But it’s interesting how I see common themes, you know, throughout the different places that I visit, and one of the biggest ones is personnel. So, you know, people ask me, like, how do we thrive with, you know, only two or three people on our worship team? Or how do we draw more people in? And so that’s a big, you know, a big issue. And I think one of the things that we need to address with that is how to thrive with what you have first, and, you know, then how to train up more people. And so then the following challenge is, what do we do with beginner worship team members? How do we train them? How do we, you know, bring them from either a place of the very, very beginning or from a place of you know, maybe they’ve played classically or in different types of settings and how to bring it into the worship context. Another question I get a lot of is we don’t have the resources that we need, whether it’s money, or like I said already personnel or it’s sound equipment, instruments, that kind of thing. So a lot of times it’s very practical things like, hey, what keyboard do you recommend? Or you know, those kinds of things. And the last one that is kind of in the forefront of my mind is a question of, what is our, I guess it starts as what is our sound like? Who do we sound like? Are we supposed to sound like this recording, like, you know, some of these amazing worship bands out there that are putting out amazing music for the church. It’s great for the church. But there’s a disconnect between translating from the album and then into the local church context. And so what do we do with that? So those are kind of the big questions that I get a lot.
Alex Enfiedjian 05:54 That’s great. And I love the last one, I’m kind of surprised by that, because that’s something that I’ve been talking about with a few of my close friends is like, do we all have to sound the same? And the answer is no, like, we are a unique individual body of believers. And we should sound like us and play like us and be like us, you know, so I’m excited to talk about that. You mentioned the personnel problem being the forefront, not having a lot of options in a small church. So what would you say to a listener about how to build a team that is limited in, you know, you’ve got, let’s say, 80 people in the church? How do you build a team with that?
Andrea Olson 06:31 Yeah, absolutely. I think the first thing I always like to address is, you know, focusing on what you have, and really working to be excellent with that. I think a lot of times, it’s easy for us, whether it’s in a church context, or in life, in general, we kind of look at what everybody else has, and think like, well, if we had that we would be fine, or you know, we could do better. And so that’s kind of the first stop for me when I’m working with churches is to say, Okay, let’s look at what you have, let’s utilize it, if it’s a two people, then let’s work with that. Because you can be excellent with that you can be excellent with what you have. And that’s kind of a mantra that I use all the time, everywhere that I go. And so I really believe that God honors that when we say, okay, God, thank you for what you’ve given us. And I’m going to be grateful for it. And I’m going to work to thrive in it and to steward this well. And then from there, I really believe that God honors and blesses that. And he begins to maybe change your heart and your mindset about it, and looking at what you’ve got, and being grateful for it. And then once you start to build it, and once you start to look at, okay, maybe, maybe there are some things we can do, logistically, you know, you can look at technology, there are easy things like adding pads through an iPad, or a phone even. And to fill out your sound, if you just don’t have an extra person, and you really want to fill that sound, you can use multi tracks, that kind of thing. But I don’t skip over the fact that there’s beauty and simplicity to you know, like, you can have the multi tracks, you can have the full band. And sometimes when I go to a church and I step in, because the worship leader just is going to be gone, or they need a Sunday off, or they want to give their team a Sunday off. Sometimes I will use multi tracks and have kind of this band sound. But other times I don’t. And it’s just me and the piano. And there’s beauty in that simplicity. So I think embracing you know what God’s given you first is key. And then you can look at technology. And then from a practical standpoint, you know, start asking God to bring people and to show you Okay, Lord, you know, this person who sits in the third row every single Sunday, and they seem like they can sing, you know, maybe just start praying for that person and praying about you know, how to approach it. And you will be shocked and amazed at what the Lord begins to do when you kind of start to shift your, your focus and, and start praying for those people and praying for the Lord to open doors to you know, draw the right people in?
Alex Enfiedjian 09:10 Yeah, yeah, cuz you don’t want the wrong people either. So like, don’t rush just because you’re like, Oh, my gosh, I’ve got nobody. So I’ll take anybody and then it’s a hot mess. You know, and I think you’re so right about the whole beauty and simplicity thing. I feel like, a lot of times when you strip it back, and you allow room for the congregational voice, people worship more, and they sing more, and they’re more engaged instead of like, watching this amazing flashy band. I mean, I’m not opposed to amazing flashy bands, like we have a big band on Sundays. But yeah, a lot of times when you go back to just the acoustic thing, it opens up just this room for the church to engage and feel like we are a part of this we can hear ourselves seeing and so I love that encouragement to not count out the power of the acoustic thing. So that’s really cool. Do you think that the listeners should go outside of the walls of the church to look for talent like it If they’re desperate, or should they just stick to what’s there and build on that and pray that God would bring other people?
Andrea Olson 10:07 You know, that’s such an interesting question. And it’s something actually that I have dealt with a lot in the last, you know, five to seven years as the Ministry of overflow worship has kind of grown into what it is today. But I would say it can be a mixture of both. And it really depends on the vision of that church body and kind of the mission of that church body. So for example, there is a church that is about three and a half hours away from where we live. And they have invited me to come in to work with their team, you know, kind of do a workshop and help train them. And then I’ve led worship alongside of them, but then also, they’ve brought me in as just a worship leader to give their team a Sunday off. And so I’m in that position of being that outside person, and I think it can be valuable. But then there’s also the struggle of if the mindset is, well, we have to because we can’t do it without drums, or we have to because we can’t do it without this, you know, instrument, then I think that is where the issue comes in. And where, you know, we kind of need to check our hearts and our focus and our vision, because you can you don’t need a drummer. I mean, they’re great. I love having drums. But if it becomes a an obstacle for us that it’s like, oh, no, we don’t have a drummer, what are we going to do? I think we need to shift our focus and ask a different question. And so I definitely don’t think there’s any issue with going outside the church walls. But it can be tricky, because you also don’t want to be pulling from other ministries, that it might be hard for them if they’re losing their drummer or their bass player. So it has to be, you know, kind of a unified vision within the leadership and then asking the right question of, are we doing this because it will really benefit the church body and it will benefit the vision that God’s placed on our heart? Or is it because we think we just are supposed to have a drummer, then maybe you want to ask a different question?
Alex Enfiedjian 12:12 Yeah, I love that question. What are we gonna do without a drummer? Well, we’re gonna worship, that’s what we’re gonna do. Right? Exactly. He’s gonna not worship because there’s no drummer. So, yeah, that’s great. I also did want to say something to like, I think, you know, we don’t have a drummer, I do think there are ways to get creative where it’s like, well, maybe you can use a kick drum on your right foot while you play your guitar, you know, and like, so, you know, we have a lot of musicians at our church. But I am gonna do a Sunday in a couple weeks. Well, by the time this podcast airs, it’ll already be fast, but whatever. Yeah, we’re gonna do an acoustic set, it’s just going to be me on my acoustic and my kick drum and some strong vocalists. So even with what you have, can you improve even that and make expand upon that, like, try putting a kick drum on your foot? And maybe like you said, a backing pad, which we do have a sponsorship with core sound pad. So everybody check out core sound, you know, it’s like, taking what you have first and expanding it to the furthest degree possible. Maybe you have a tambourine on your other foot. And I’m just kidding. But like, you know, it’s Yes, like, let’s do that first before we go seek other people to come in and add to that, but now going to the training side of things, let’s say it’s me, a piano player, I’m playing the kick drum with my foot. Now, how do I take the piano player and the vocalist who can only sing melody with me? And what do I do now? How do I train those people?
Andrea Olson 13:35 I think the first thing that I like to address is just understanding roles, like understand your role within the worship team. So for example, I was at a church a couple of months ago, doing a workshop with their team. And it was interesting, because they had a church pianist, this was a more traditional congregation. And so she was like, playing full on the sheet music. And they were trying to figure out how to, you know, they don’t want to lose her. She’s wonderful. But she was feeling this tension of like, I don’t really know what to do anymore, because there’s a keyboard player and an acoustic guitar player, and I’m just kind of here. And so it was a matter of helping her understand her role in this new band. And so, you know, for this example, where you said, What if it’s you and the singer and a piano player? Well, first, let’s understand the role. So your piano player is going to be glue, because your acoustic guitar is going to be rhythm. And so the piano player, if she’s playing too much rhythm, it’s going to conflict with what you’re doing. And so just kind of coming at it from that perspective is a lot easier to as opposed to like, well, I don’t want you to play that there play that it’s, it’s just a much easier, like this is your role. It’s a broader perspective. And understanding that okay, you’re the glue. So what does that mean? You’re going to really help to hold the sound together and fill in those gaps. And then for a singer Who only sings melody, I would say, hey, that’s great. We love doubled melody, because then that gives the leader the opportunity to say something, you know, mid phrase, like continue to worship with us, or let’s, you know, sing that chorus again or something like that, and it doesn’t break the flow. But then understanding that, even though you’re melody, you’re not the leader. So you want to kind of pull back your volume and sing as such. So you’re blending. So those are kind of some of the things that I would say in that context to help everybody understand their role and hopefully thrive in it and feel like they’re valued and what they’re doing.
Alex Enfiedjian 15:37 Now, the roll thing is really great. I love that. I never thought about it that way. Even like what you said, the glue, you know, you’re the glue, it’s like, oh, okay, I kind of understand that concept now. And so instead of just like, no, don’t play that, that doesn’t sound good. You know, they’re like, why not? Well, because it’s not being very glue, like, you know, but you still want to develop them on a technical level. So let’s say I’m a by vocational worship leader, you know, I’m busy, I’ve got a family, whatever, where do I find time? Or carve out time to train these people? And then what does training look like? Is it one on one like, hey, come before or after service? Let’s stay and you give them parts to work on? Or what would you do to train those two or three people on my team?
Andrea Olson 16:18 Yeah, absolutely. I think that is a question I should have added into the beginning is okay, I want to train them. But like, Where do I find the time, because like you say, it’s this by vocational or their volunteer, completely volunteer worship leader. So I would say a couple of different things. First of all, if you’re the worship leader, I would say, hey, look at the next six months, and find, you know, maybe two things that you could do for your whole team. So whether that’s a conference that you go, you know, outside to an event that’s already been put on by someone else. And then maybe the second one is a team training day. So maybe you bring in somebody from the outside, or maybe you can do it, or you could resource from within your body, just to help train the vocalist, you know, maybe it’s like, okay, we’re gonna take these two hours, it doesn’t have to be long, doesn’t have to be a 10 hour day, you know, we’re gonna take these two hours, and we’re gonna learn three new songs. And you could give them the stuff ahead of time, so that they can, you know, learn the songs and work on it and that kind of thing. So that’s a really practical, easy thing that I think is manageable for worship leaders like okay, two in six months, okay, that’s too big team things. And then practically day to day, just little things like, you know, maybe you could figure out an automated texting thing, or put a reminder on your phone, like, once a week, text, the team, with an encouragement and a, hey, here’s a new song, we’re gonna learn, or here’s a cool tip video that I found for drummers, you know, maybe map it out of something that you could find for each person, or each instrument or vocal part on your team. And you don’t have to make them yourself, you know, just go on YouTube, find something or there’s lots of great training, resource websites and ministries out there. So that’s something that I encourage people to do, too, but just make it manageable. You know, we get that this can’t be a several hour a day thing that you’re devoting to it. And then the third thing is if you have capacity, yeah, come early to rehearsal, or stay after rehearsal, or you know, those types of things. Or, you know, there was even a few people in our church that we were like, Hey, I can’t teach you drums. But the church would love to invest in lessons or co invest, you know, that kind of thing, just showing like, Hey, we believe in you, we, you know, want to help you in this way. But I can’t teach you jumps, because I’m not a drummer.
Alex Enfiedjian 18:50 So I love that I love that you become more like a curator of training, like you don’t have to create all the training, like you’re saying, you don’t have to teach the drum lessons or, or make the YouTube video, you just find it and send it. And I think that’s such an easy, practical thing that anyone listening can do, like with almost zero effort, and hopefully see some results. You know, one of the things I learned from Hillsong was just that they basically set such a strong expectation on their musicians that God deserves your best, and God deserves you to keep growing and keep improving. And they do a lot of training, but they also expect people to work on it on their own. And there’s just this strong expectation that that’s like not even negotiable, like you will be improving because God deserves your best. And I think even just casting that sort of conversation into the mix does help people go Okay, yeah, Alex or Andrea is helping me grow. Yes, I’m watching these videos to grow. But I’m working on it because I want to bring my best to the Lord. And so it’s almost it’s not just like, hey, do this, but it’s like, hey, think this way. And that’s been kind of a For me, as I, you know, try to leave my musicians as well here. Yeah, you said the third thing on the questions list that you get is like limited resources. So you had mentioned the drummer, you know, we’re going to co invest in you, obviously, some churches, like that’s not even an option. So what are some of the issues where you’re having these churches ask you like, Hey, we have limited resources, we have limited people, we have limited money. What are some of the problems you see there?
Andrea Olson 20:28 Yeah, well, I think it kind of comes back a little bit to what you were just saying about being willing to invest in yourself. And kind of one of my mantras is that we don’t pursue excellence so that people look at us, we pursue it so that they’re not distracted by us, you know, so that we’re just like a pass through to say, the Lord. And so I think that one of the things as I’m working with churches, as they’re saying, Hey, we don’t have the money, we don’t, we can’t pay for lessons, or we can’t buy XYZ, it first instilling in the team members, like, Hey, we want to help you how we can and we will, but you have to have some like ownership in this too. Because like you were just saying, it’s got to come from that place of I want to be the best that I can be for the Lord and for honoring him. And so I come at it starting there, just because I think that’s so key, and so important that the team members in the church feel that ownership with it, and like, Okay, I’m gonna do this. But as far as how to help them when they don’t have the resources. It’s kind of like what I was saying, just looking for things that are available and that are really reasonable. So, you know, if you want to use multi tracks, but you can’t afford, whatever the platform is, whatever, I think I use multi tracks as a blanket term, for tracks in general, then start looking for ways that are more reasonable or affordable in your budget. Like you said, core sound pads, I love core sound pads, Mike lives in Minnesota, actually. And he’s an overflow, overflow partner too. So you know, stuff like that, it’s really reasonable. And usually, the church can find the 1999, or whatever it is to find to invest in something like that. There’s a worship leader at a local church in our area. And she was talking to me about like, training up the youth leaders, and they don’t really have a budget, and she kind of play some drums, but it’s limited. And so she was just researching resources that were reasonable online for stuff, they could read videos, they could watch songs they could learn and you know, kind of mimic and play along. And it didn’t really cost them very much at all. But it took the worship leader taking that initiative to seek it out. And so that’s something that I guess, you know, I try to encourage leaders as well, like, hey, just see what’s out there, start researching things start, because you’ll be amazed at what you would find you once you start looking and what is reasonably priced or free. Really.
Alex Enfiedjian 23:00 Yeah, I think like he said, research is so key, because there is so much out there that’s free or cheap, cheaper than you would expect. You know, like, you can get decent in ear monitors now, like, you could set up a little headphone amp, you know, with four different sends, and like, the headphone amps, 40 bucks and the IRS or 20 each or something like it’s crazy cheap, and it’s not gonna sound the best, but like, hey, if that’s something you want to do, and you’re like, I mean, I can see a huge reason why it’s a really small church would need ears, but I’m just saying like, yeah, if you research you can find a way. And it just takes the leader having that initiative to be like, Okay, let’s go digging and see what we can find. Yeah. What about like, if people had, let’s just say, a budget of, like, $1,000 a year or something like that, right? And maybe that’s even a lot for some people listening? I’m not sure. But how do you prioritize what’s going to make the biggest impact? And I’m sure it’s different for church to church? So I’m not sure how you’ll answer this question. But like, how do you figure out like, this thing will make the biggest difference this year? If I invest, you know, 600 of the dollars into this? And then how do they prioritize that? Like, what should they be looking at or thinking about as they come at? expenses?
Andrea Olson 24:14 Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. I think it has to start, actually from a more global and like a vision casting perspective. So thinking about what is your vision for the worship ministry or And really, the church has to start there. So talking with you know, your leadership, if you guys don’t have a vision statement, or goal set for the year, you got to start there, because otherwise you don’t have a filter to run things through. And like you say, you’re kind of shooting in the dark a little bit like, Sure, let’s spend 20 bucks here and 50 bucks here and you might get to the end of the year feeling like what did we even purchase this year that was beneficial to us because it just felt random. So I encourage listeners to really start from that global perspective. To your pastor talk to, you know, whomever you do and your context about, okay, what’s the vision for the next year? You know, what are the goals for the worship ministry, you know, maybe you’re going to invest in some multi tracks and some equipment that allows you to use technology from the stage because you want to resource from within. And so if you’re missing pieces, missing instruments, then you know, that would be a great route to go, you know, and then kind of pinpoint your pain points. I like to say that a lot, you know, like, if it’s tons of stage noise, and always issues with monitors not loud enough, well, then you might need to look at any years and like you said, for very reasonable, you can get the cheaper wired, headphone amps, and then at least you can try it and you haven’t spent, you know, $10,000 on something that you’re not sure you’re going to like. So right, that’s how I would approach it.
Alex Enfiedjian 25:55 That’s really great. And I think, like you said, What are the main issues that are plaguing us on a continual basis? And like, can we solve those for cheap, I also think, like, what I’m realizing more and more is, the best investment is investing in the training of your people, because like, you could buy a really cool keyboard. And if nobody knows how to utilize it to the full potential, it’s a waste of the keyboard, and it’s a waste of the money, you could have a pretty lame keyboard, but if you train your people how to play well, yeah, they’re gonna bring out the best out of that keyboard, or it could be you know, apply it to the sound console. Okay, you could spend three grand on a digital sound console. But if you’ve got a guy who literally doesn’t know how to use it, like, that’s a waste, why not train him to learn how to just do sound in general with the console that you already have. And then you’re going to get a better return when you do upgrade your console. So I’ve found just recently more and more how important it is to invest in people. And it’s like, I need to make more time in my schedule and in my employee schedule to train our people in the things we need them to grow. And you know, because that’s going to pay great return.
Andrea Olson 27:01 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. When you approach it from, like, the relationship standpoint, and the people standpoint, first, it kind of shifts the conversation and shifts the perspective a little bit. And I think that’s really powerful.
Alex Enfiedjian 27:15 Right? Now, talking about people, something that we I didn’t ask earlier, but I kinda want to ask now is, because you’re limited on people, right? You kind of settle for behavior that you don’t necessarily want to settle for. So for example, oh, he’s always late to rehearsal, but he’s the only guitarist we have. Yeah. How should we approach that side of limited personnel?
Andrea Olson 27:39 Yeah. And that’s a great question. It is one that I get often. And I think it’s, it’s hard because on one hand, you know, like you said, well, they’re the only person that we have. And then, on the other hand, if anybody out there listening is like me, it’s not like I want to make somebody feel bad or be the big mean person that tells someone they can’t play anymore, because they’re not respectful of others time. But I think that it comes down to being respectful of one another’s time being respectful of ministry of leadership. And so anytime we bring a new worship team member on at the church that we’ve been at, for the last several years, we kind of put in place this, I call it a policy, but it’s not like they had to sign anything. But it’s basically like, Hey, this is what’s expected of you. This is what you can expect when you come to a rehearsal. And this is kind of, we would lay it out. And that gives us something to stand on, then when we come back around and say, Hey, you know, we’re noticing that, like, for example, the guitar player who’s always late to rehearsal, well, we’ve been noticing that you’re always late to rehearsal, and we understand that, you know, you have a full time job, and you’ve got a family and, you know, whatever, fill in the blanks, however, based on our conversation, when you began and the worship team, that is, you know, what we expect of you and we need you to work hard to be on time, because it’s disrespectful, of everybody’s time, and everybody’s waiting for you. And, you know, we love you, we want to do what we can to help you. But this is, you know, that kind of gives us a framework to go off of, and then you know, when you come at it from the standpoint of the relationship, and from the standpoint of, Hey, we love you, this is what this is what we’re seeing, and we need to address it. I think it changes the course of the conversation a little bit as opposed to like, Hey, stop being late. This is dumb. It’s, you know, like, it changes the course of the conversation and but then if that person’s like, Hey, you know what, I can’t be to rehearsal on time. I just can’t do it. Well, then that’s another conversation. Is it because they just don’t want to, or is it because they literally can’t and then maybe you as an organization are saying, Okay, well could we all practice at six 30 Sure, okay, great. But if it’s the other way, like, they just don’t want to be there, then you got to be okay to let them walk away. And you know, say like, Hey, we love you, we love you so much. But maybe for this season, it’s just isn’t gonna work for you. And those are hard conversations to have. But when you come at it from the perspective of the relationship, and from the perspective of kind of this policy or guideline that you have in place, it gives you a framework to work with.
Alex Enfiedjian 30:28 Yeah, I think that’s great. And being not afraid to let people go, who aren’t in line with the vision and direction that you’re feeling called to go, it can be scary, because you’re like, Who’s gonna fill in that role. But that’s where we trust Lord, this is your church, you’ve called me to this, you’re calling me to go this direction. And I’m going to trust that you’re going to bring the people who will go in line with that direction. I think the trickiest thing is when you’ve inherited people, yes. Or now you’re changing the culture. And you’re changing the policy, which maybe some people listening now are saying, Okay, I need to change. I need to put some clear things in writing and explain these things to our team. And we need to change where we’re going. That’s where it’s really hard. Because you haven’t had those upfront conversations. When they came onto the team, they’ve always been part of the team. And now you’re going a different direction. I think the thing I would say to that, as someone who’s recently been going through that, for the last three years or so is love, patience, kindness, graciousness, many, many times of conversations, loving conversations, forgiveness, knowing when to let it go know when to not let it go. Because now you’re taking somebody who has been part of an old system, and you’re trying to move them in a new direction. And like, you have to just be very sensitive about that. So that would be my advice on that. It’s very tricky.
Andrea Olson 31:47 Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I think like time, like you said, is so key. And, and I love what you said about knowing when to let it go and knowing when to wait. That’s huge. Because the goal is not to come in and be like, my way or the highway. That’s not it at all. It’s you know, it’s to promote a healthy team. But, you know, I would say when I came into a worship director position 14 years ago, at a church that was already established, I mean, it was a few years of just little gradual things. And I was learning to like, let’s be real, we’re all learning together. It’s not that there’s one perfect way, but I think it’s so key to, to take it slow and to follow kind of the need of the team, because you don’t want to bulldoze over everybody either. But like you said to be very loving and patient, because it’s a huge thing. And it’s very important to to do that.
Alex Enfiedjian 32:43 Yeah, this has been super helpful. I want to talk about that. One last thing that you mentioned at the beginning is, you know, who are we supposed to sound like? Because I feel like that’s a question a lot of churches are wrestling with. So tell us about the sound piece? Yeah. Who do we sound like? Yeah,
Andrea Olson 32:57 absolutely. Well, a lot of times, I always tell people, you’re probably not going to love the answer to that question. But it comes back to being willing to be excellent with what you have. And I think that there’s just this misconception out there that whatever the recording is, that’s what we have to sound like. And I’ve even heard things like, Well, can we even do that song? We don’t have a guitar player. And so it’s just kind of taking that and turning that around and saying, Well, yeah, you absolutely can. How about we just try it with the piano by itself? What does that sound like? And just kind of giving everybody out there permission to try it with what you have. It’s not that oh, this is only a guitar song, or this is only a tenor song, I also get a lot of questions about key signature, how do we do this song? You know, for a female when there’s a song that has a tenor part that jumps the octave like, Well, what do I do? So helping them find a key signature that works, all of those things, being excellent with what you have, and learning to thrive in, you know, the gifts that God has given your church body. So if that’s, you know, female singing leaders, then you want to find key signatures that work and that are comfortable for the perspective of a non singer. You know, it’s not too high, not too low. And then instrumentally, making it work with what you have and really understanding the role of your instruments in the band. So if you have a different setup every Sunday, because that’s what’s available to you, and maybe it’s just a piano one Sunday, and then it’s a guitar and a bass player the next Sunday and it’s just kind of, you know, small pieces. That is okay, you can change the song to fit your context. Maybe you don’t do the instrumentals. You know, if there’s a 24 bar instrumental, just don’t do it. Because it’s not going to fit within the context of one instrument or two instruments. So those are some of the things that I like to tell people and encourage them. Hey, God gave you this. You’ve got what he wants you to have. So let’s thrive with it.
Alex Enfiedjian 35:06 Yeah, no. And I love that he said cut the instrumentals, because that’s like such a pet peeve where it’s like, it’s just the guitar player, but he’s like trying to play the huge, massive riff, it’s like, hey, it’s not working, you know, yeah. And my friend Britton Collier actually wrote an article, like about six tips to you know, when leading with a small team, I’ll put it in the show notes. So people can check it out. Because there are a couple other tips like that. And I just love what you said, like God gave you what you have to do what he wants you to do. And we don’t all need to sound like Hillsong or Bethel. You know, those are great churches. But I think when you copy what God has called another church to do, you lose the power, and the influence and the authority that God wants your church to have. And I feel like so many churches are just copying what they’re seeing elsewhere. And it doesn’t work, as well as the church that was called to do it, you know, and it’s so sad to see that. And so, like, in my context, you know, we do use the album versions of songs as kind of the reference point. And like this is, these are the lead lines for the guitar and for the keys. And this is the drum groove, and even the drum fills. Yeah, but if somebody comes in and approaches it slightly different, and it always does sound slightly different, because every player is different. And those are the players that God sent to the church, you know, and so like, for example, the way that I approach it is like, if a bass player because I have a couple bass players, who they play, like a different style than I would play bass or whatever, or that I would prefer, and if they play it, and they’re doing kind of a different bass groove than what I want to hear, but it’s not going to ruin the worship for the body. And I leave it alone. Yeah, like, if it’s gonna be a distraction, or it’s, if it’s really hindering the moment, then I will tell them, hey, please change it. But if it’s like just a preference thing, and it’s still the point still gets across, and it’s not a distraction, then I let them play what they kind of want to play in those moments, you know, so yeah, if that’s helpful for the listeners, that’s kind of my approach to it. So this has been really helpful. I think people will want to connect with you. And I would encourage people, obviously, you can hear how much wisdom Andrea has and the practical knowledge she has. So Andrea does trainings all over the Midwest area, and she has a conference now that has grown exponentially. So Andrew, what is the conference? When is the conference? Where is the conference? And how can people find out more about that? And your ministry? Yeah, absolutely.
Andrea Olson 37:27 So the overflow worship conference is in October, it’s on October 11, and 12th. And it’s in Willmar, Minnesota. And, you know, basically, the premise of this event is that I just have a passion for the local church and for training, worship teams and leaders. And so one of the questions that I was getting a lot was, how do we train our team members, right, or help us train our team members. And so this conference is for the whole team. And so we have classes that are for, you know, the guitar players, the drummers, the sound techs, all of those things, and it’s very practical, from an application standpoint, but there’s also, you know, spiritual leadership training as well. And this year, joining me is going to be Meredith Andrews and her husband, Jacob Souter, and Todd fields of worship circle. So, and along with so many other speakers and presenters for the breakout session, so it’s gonna be just a great weekend, kicks off with a night of worship on the 11th. And that’s open to the public. So we always tell people, like bring your church, bring your neighbors, you know, all your friends, because that’s open to the public. And then Saturday, the 12th is the sessions and conference workshops. So if you’re interested in learning more about it, we would love to have you and we do have some people who travel from, you know, outside the Midwest to come. And it’s just a great time. So if you want to learn more, our website is overflow, worship calm. And that will kind of shoot you to wherever you want to go. If you want to get in touch with me personally, you can do that from that link as well.
Alex Enfiedjian 38:57 That’s awesome. And I’ll link that in the show notes as well for people to have easy access to that. Do you have any final words for the listeners today, just who are leading in mid size, smaller sized churches, what would you conclude with? Yeah,
Andrea Olson 39:09 I just want to encourage all of you out there that, you know, God’s placed you for a purpose. He has you in this place for a purpose, and we don’t always see or understand what he’s doing. But he’s got a reason for it. And I think a lot of times, you know, we go through seasons in ministry and leadership where we feel overlooked or forgotten. And I just really believe that God wants you to know that he’s still reading your story. He didn’t forget, and he has a purpose for you where you are. And he’s looking for us as worship leaders to be grateful for what we have where we are, and to thrive with it and to let our roots go down deep. That’s the conference theme this year is deep roots. And so let those roots go down deep where you’re at and you will be amazed at what God does with that.
Alex Enfiedjian 40:00 That’s all we have time for today. I hope you were helped by today’s episode. And if you think of anyone else who might be helped by today’s episode, please send it to them and encourage them to take a listen. Just want to help as many worship leaders as possible grow in this craft and calling called worship leading. And if you have been enjoying the podcast help us out by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts. Just say hello, give us a five star review and share what you like about the podcast. And if there’s anything else you want us to cover, we would love to hear from you. So thank you guys. I’ll see you next month for another helpful episode. Bless. Bye