Better By Sunday with Planning Center Online #1

Worship Musician is dedicated to offering practical advice to leaders and teams so that every week they can make their worship experience better by Sunday. While our respective churches might look and sound different, tight songs, smooth transitions, great sound, and excellent morale are things we all strive for. Capable of far more than just rostering teams and songs, Planning Center aka PCO is a tremendously powerful vehicle for improving all these things and more. We would like to extend a big thank you to Aaron Stewart, Co-Founder and Product Manager at PCO for his input on this column. In this first installment we’ll be offering up some tried and true suggestions on how you can use PCO to make things better by Sunday!

Capable of far more than just rostering teams and songs, Planning Center is a tremendously powerful vehicle.

Before I started working for Worship Musician and Christian Musician full time, I was the Worship and Creative Arts Director for two campuses at an average-sized multi-site church. I was responsible for rostering the worship and tech teams, managing the graphics and videos, as well as selecting the songs. Although my position was basically full time, I was still a volunteer, which meant that I had to be judicious with everyone’s time, including my own. My overarching strategy for PCO was simple, make sure that everything important was in there, with as much lead time as was reasonably possible. This made everything more manageable, with the added benefit that people could visibly see the care that went into making Sunday a better experience for all.


A number of Aaron’s suggested best practices center around the Matrix view, which you can access via the Matrix tab in the upper right corner in the desktop version of PCO. One of the biggest benefits the Matrix view has to offer is making things more manageable for leaders and team members, which is a key part of maintaining a great culture.

A culture of care allows team members to feel their time is valued and leaders to feel appreciated for the time they invested in making things happen behind the scenes. The Matrix view makes it easy for leaders to schedule multiple services at the same time with the added benefit of being able to send out a single email for all of them. Leaders, if you can do this at least thirty days in advance your team will love you for it, even if you don’t have all the songs in place. Team members please remember that your leaders spend hours choosing songs and rostering musicians, and you can do a lot to foster a culture of care by responding quickly to PCO invites.


From time to time I get invited to play at Central Peninsula Church (CPC) here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each time I play there I’m always impressed by how they use PCO to set the stage for great rehearsals and services.

Transposing Songs and Charts

The time that Worship Pastor Jerome Madigan invests in transposing and attaching the songs and charts into the actual keys we’ll be playing them in makes it way easier for me to bring my best, both at rehearsal and on Sunday. Leaders, please keep in mind that transposing songs is a skill that is learned, so if you’re not training your musicians how to do it, the onus is on you to set your team up for success by transposing the songs and charts. The good news is that CCLI’s Church Rehearsal License enables you to legally share copies of your songs via PCO, and per the tutorial below, PCO makes it easy to transpose songs. Leaders, before you start transposing a new song, try sending it to all your worship leaders so they can tell you what key best fits their voice. Many churches are small enough that you can include the singers’ names in the transposed audio files. This makes it much easier to roster songs with that added benefit of giving your singers input on the keys.

Sunday Morning Run Through

After the band is done with the Sunday morning rehearsal, all the team leaders sit around a table and run through a print out of PCO. By doing this every team at CPC is on the same page, eliminating just about every production mishap before it occurs. This is one of the smartest things I’ve seen any church do, and in combination with transposing the songs and charts goes a long way toward making things better by Sunday!

Read Better By Sunday with Planning Center Online # 2


    • Scott,

      Thanks for the helpful suggestion. I have updated the article to take you to the support section of PCO to get you started on features that are referenced in the article.

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