OAKLAND — A ringing endorsement from a superior might be something an employee expects from one who has worked with him for considerable time, not one who has just hired him.
But Zack Olsen, a Tampa native who just joined Mosaic Church in Oakland as its worship pastor, received both.
“We are incredibly excited to have Zack with us,” Renaut van der Riet, Mosaic’s lead pastor, said during a July 5 service, Olsen’s first weekend as new worship pastor at Mosaic. “Zack will continue to lead us in worship throughout … but I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to have a man on this stage that has been anointed and gifted not only to lead us in worship but also to be able to lead me willingly or unwillingly into worship.
“And that is a key thing for you guys to know,” he told the congregation. “I have to have a guy on the stage (who) can lead me into worship when I don’t feel like worshipping, because if I stop worshipping as lead pastor, that begins a downward spiral in places we do not want to be and talk about.”
Olsen comes from two years with the worship team at Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, which van der Riet described as a church Mosaic staff has learned much from. Olsen said being part of the worship team there under the leadership of Aaron Ivey was a great opportunity.
Before that, Olsen was the worship director for Redeemer Church for about two-and-one-half years as it was starting in Winter Garden.
“I’ve been leading worship since I was 16, so about 11 years now,” he said. “I started working in ministry right out of high school. I started leading worship for the student ministry at the church I grew up at.”
With his wife, Rachel, and two young sons, Judah and Elijah, Olsen returned to the area in early June with hopes of getting back into a worship pastor role that served his church well. They felt called to lead starting about a year ago and began looking for opportunities, with several passing before Mosaic, which they visited May 9 to 17, drawing overwhelmingly positive feedback from church leaders.
“It was pretty funny, because Phil Taylor, the executive pastor here at Mosaic, sent an email to Aaron Ivey, the worship pastor at The Austin Stone,” Olsen said. “It said,‘Hey, we’re beginning the process of looking for a new worship pastor. If you happen to know anybody, could you pass along my information?’ So Aaron sent me an email and was like, ‘Hey, does this interest you at all?’”
Olsen was definitely interested in a return to his home of just a few years prior, he said, and leading worship May 14 and 17 in Oakland sealed the deal. Rachel’s family lives in Clermont, to boot.
“My wife and I, on our trip back home to Austin … really sensed that this was what God was leading us to,” Olsen said of that audition. “When they called and said they met with their team of elders and pastors and they wanted us, we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it — for sure.’”
Among aspects of Mosaic that stood out to the Olsens were leadership among pastors, elders and staff; the seeking-teaching and preaching style of van der Riet; and the feeling of being part of a big family, Olsen said.
Olsen brings his voice and guitar to the stage with modern contemporary Christian music and a passion for hymns that he hopes matches the passion he has seen in the worship of his congregation. He also hopes to help the congregation understand why they sing, what they are singing and the importance of gathering in a greater context.
“I wouldn’t necessarily categorize worship in a style, because worship isn’t just singing on Sundays,” he said. “Worship happens in all different areas of life. I can worship the Lord just as much or more when I’m at home playing with my kids as I do when I’m on stage singing. Worship is a lifestyle. I long to worship in every aspect of my life. Everybody is worshipping something, every moment … usually ourselves. Instead, we need to be worshipping Christ and looking for what areas in our life we’re not getting that.”