Minnesota-based Andrea Olson works as a worship leader, songwriter, and worship-leading coach. Through the ministry of Overflow Worship, an organization that she started in 2014, she equips and encourages worship leaders and their teams to thrive in their calling.
As a worship leader and songwriter, Andrea has always felt a deep calling to bring others into an encounter with God and deepen their relationship with Him. For the last two years, she’s been busy releasing new music after a several-year hiatus, as she poured into her husband, her three daughters, and Overflow Worship.
Andrea is excited to share what she’s been writing this season. Songs for the church alongside songwriters, Meredith Andrews, Michael Farren, Paul Baloche, Chris Clayton, and Andrew Bergthold, who also have a deep love for worship and the local Church. I spoke with Andrea about her music, her testimony, and her ministry.
Tell us your testimony. How did you first know Jesus was real?
Life has been a journey of building blocks, every single one building on the last. If you would have asked me this question a decade ago, I probably would have pointed you to my early childhood years, because that is when I gave my life to the Lord. My parents laid crucial building blocks in my early years that are a huge part of who I am today.
As an adult, I’m on a journey to realizing more and more of who He is every day. But the time in my life that was most formative was in college. I was a piano performance major at Biola University Conservatory of Music, and I was 2000 miles from home—without any familiarity. So, I had to spend every single day depending on the Lord, because He was the only one, I had to lean on. But I know that is exactly where He wanted me—to learn to fully rely on Him in all things.
Looking back, I was comfortable with my life and my surroundings before college, and I think God had to get me out of that to reveal Himself to me. Now, nearly 20 years later, I see how that season set me on a journey of solely relying on God. Our lives have been filled with change, transition, and huge leaps of faith. While none of those things are ever easy, I see now that God used that season of my life to deepen my relationship with Him to set me up for where He was about to lead me.
So, when did I first know Jesus was real? I gave my heart to Jesus with my dad when I was four years old and served him all through my growing up years. But I made my faith my own and encountered the Lord in powerful ways during my college years, which set me on a path that led me to where I am today. And, still, daily, I realize how I need him more and more. Most nights before I drift off to sleep, I find myself singing, “Lord, I need You. Oh, I need You. Every hour I need You.”
What led to your calling to write Christian music?
Songwriting has been part of my heart for my entire life. It’s something that God put inside of me, but I didn’t realize that it was a unique calling for my life until after I started leading worship at a church in my 20s. I had this passion begin to well up inside of me to pen anthems for our local church body to sing. It was exciting for me to listen to the prayers of our church body. And to pay attention to the unique challenges we faced and victories we celebrated. And then give them a voice through song.
I got excited about taking our corporate prayers and writing songs that we could sing together in celebration, gratitude, or petition. So, I started with what God put in front of me and writing for my local church. I didn’t know if my songs would ever reach outside the four walls of our church, but I just kept writing because God put that passion there. It’s also a way that I worship the Lord—through new songs. But slowly, the songs started reaching outside the four walls of our church and resonating with worshippers all over. And now I stand back amazed that He would even choose to use me.
Did I have a pivotal moment in my life where I knew I would write Christian music, specifically worship music? Not necessarily. It’s just that every day, I wake up knowing that I’m called to worship the Lord, and I desire to create. I have continuously prayed that the Lord will provide for me to be a lifelong learner, to steward this gift well, and He has. He has allowed me to rub shoulders with some amazing songwriters who have pushed me to grow and refine my craft. And I’m so grateful. So, with each door that opens, I’m trying to be faithful to walk through it and be faithful with what He puts in front of me in each season.
What’s one of the biggest lessons Christ has taught you in your life?
He has taught me repeatedly that I can trust Him. There have been times in my life when things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. And then there are other times where the miraculous has unfolded and I stand back in awe at His specific answers to my prayers. But, even in the unanswered questions or the prayers I am waiting on, He is so faithful.
Things might not always turn out the way I had hoped, but it’s always exactly what I need—and it often takes a while (sometimes years) to realize it. But I can look back and see how meticulously He paid attention to my prayers and answered them exactly how I needed them—even if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted at the time. Through that, time and time again, He reminds me that I can trust Him, no matter what. In all things.
You're a worship leader as well as a singer/songwriter? How do you balance writing music, touring, and leading worship?
It’s hard. My first ministry is to my family, but I also know that I am called to this worship ministry work. So, finding balance is an intentional choice I must make every single day. And it all starts with being mindful of my yes. Now, don’t think that it’s easy or that I get it right all the time. But I have learned that I must be mindful of my yes. My husband and I have a filter that we run every decision through. It’s specific to our family, our season of life, and our goals. And if the opportunity or event doesn’t align with that filter, we don’t pursue it. The hard thing is that in ministry everything seems good. And oftentimes, it is.
But we are working hard to be mindful of our yeses by saying no to good things so we can say yes to great things. I don’t want to be spread so thin that I can’t devote my whole heart to my family and ministry work. Is it hard? Of course. But I feel so much better when I can offer my best self to my family and the ministry God has called me to. It’s a daily choice and I fail at it all too often. But I’m working to do a little better every day to steward my calling well.
Tell us about Overflow Worship.
It all began in 2014 during the first Overflow Worship Conference held in Willmar, Minnesota. The plan was simple, to only have one. But after the first one, it was clear that something special was happening. It was almost as if everything I had been doing up until that point was culminating in this new beginning. It wasn’t a flashy beginning. Our first conference was small, hard, and somewhat disappointing. But something came alive inside of me and since that first conference, Overflow Worship has turned into a beautiful community of worship leaders and teams in volunteer-supported churches.
Our next annual Overflow Worship Conference is coming up on October 7 and 8 in Willmar for worship leaders and their whole worship teams. We not only have our yearly gathering at the conference—where we’ve had past musical guests join me like Meredith Andrews, Christy Nockels, Paul Baloche, Shane & Shane, David Leonard, Vertical Worship, and more—but we also have The Overflow Worship Podcast, a podcast for worship leaders. We’re also launching some exciting online opportunities in later 2022.
Overflow Worship Leaders Online, our new membership site for worship leaders, is launching later this year. And, at the end of October, we’re launching the Overflow Worship Leaders Startup Toolkit, a brand new self-paced online course for new or newly positioned worship leaders.
As someone who has served in a local church, and volunteer-supported contexts my whole life, there are so many things I wish I would have had when I started. And so many questions I didn't know to ask that are unique to a church in this context—without a lot of paid staff, and likely a volunteer worship leader). I’ve compiled all my start-up tips into a course, and I’m excited to share them with the world. I hope and pray that it’s a blessing to new or transitioning worship leaders on their journey. I’m excited to see what God has in store.
Talk about your new album, This Good. Tell us the theme and inspiration behind it.
This album was such a special one. I recently told someone that I think this album has been deep in my soul for my whole life, and God was waiting for the right time, with the right people, to dig it out. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it took every ounce of me to bring this album to the finish line. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I simply mean that I poured a lot of myself into it, and I’m excited about it.
The inspiration for this album is to take people on a journey of worship. There’s celebration, declaration, prayer and petition, and honor throughout this album. My prayer is that people take 35 minutes to listen to the album from start to finish and pause in His presence. Take the time to breathe and meditate on His goodness. The theme woven throughout this whole project is God’s goodness. After everything that has transpired in the last two years, things can sometimes feel hopeless. But I wanted to give people an opportunity to pause in His presence and remember His goodness.
My roots are deep in hymns and classical music. So, while there are contemporary anthems for the church to sing in the corporate setting, there are also contemplative songs with masterful string arrangements to allow listeners to sit and be ministered to. The album ends with an instrumental that we created to be a breath of fresh air. Before you get up and go on to the next thing, take the opportunity to digest what you’ve just sung and taken in. And then go on your way, hopefully, refreshed, and encouraged.
As I thought about what to call this album, the song “This Good” stuck out to me because it’s a song that reminds us of all the ways that He is good. There have been so many times recently where I’ve said, “God, You didn’t have to do that. That was so kind.” Even in hard times, He shows Himself good and faithful. With all that I’ve journeyed through in life, I can truly say with my whole heart that in all things, He is this good.
What’s next? Are there any new albums/EPs or tours on the horizon?
As I mentioned, next up is the Overflow Worship Conference in October. And then the release of the Overflow Worship Leaders Startup toolkit for new worship leaders at the end of the same month. As far as tours and new music go, my available dates are now fully booked around Minnesota for the rest of 2022. But we’re currently booking worship events and worship team workshops for 2023. If anyone is interested, please reach out. I would love to come to visit and see how I can serve.
How can we be praying for you?
Thank you for asking. Please pray for me to have wisdom in my best yes so that I can steward what God has put in front of me to the best of my ability. Thank you so much.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with 20 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, Marvel movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
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