As a worship leader in a medium-sized church, I personally put off setting up a Planning Center account for a long time, and now I completely regret those years! For many years, I had worship teams that had zero rotations… everyone was on platform every single Sunday. I remember having two people on sound that would swap weekends, and a group of folks that would set up their own schedule for running lyrics. Everything seemed to work smoothly and I felt like the “expense” ($14/month) for Planning Center was unneeded against my budget.
Back in those days, my process was to create a set list, copy/paste YouTube links for each song, and then email that set list out to the team. Pretty simple! Once Facebook became the norm and all the team was on it, I would create a private FB group where I would post the set list with those same YouTube links. In that group, members could have discussions about songs, make comments, or even post other songs that they were connecting with.
The problem that I was facing, which I was just treating as “par for the course,” was a lack of communication. I could not be certain that each team member received the set list unless they replied to my email or clicked “like” on the Facebook post. In fact, that became my requirement… that each member was to click “like” simply to show me that they saw the post. It’s very frustrating to not know if you’ve communicated well with your team!
When I finally committed to Planning Center, it was a complete game changer. I realized how much time I wasted doing the old process over and over, unnecessarily and inefficiently, and now I save so much time. Even though I did not have more than one electric guitar player to choose from for any given Sunday, I was still able to post the list and his “acceptance” of the position was his communication to me that he will be there and he was on top of things. Each member can be set up with different viewing permissions… only viewing when scheduled, or able to view all the time.
Once songs are set up… my charts import directly from Song Select and each song can have YouTube links and other files/links directly attached… it is simply a drag and drop effort to setup each service’s set list. This is so much simpler than what I had been doing for so many years! It’s just as easy to schedule musicians and media tech members. Once members are set up, it only takes drag and drop to place them on a Sunday morning schedule. Members can then go onto their own account and mark days that they will be out of town, they can select their communication preference between email and text, and they can save their own preferences. Once they mark their calendar, I get a warning that they are unavailable if I try to schedule them. This has been extremely helpful, especially now that my team is finally growing!
I asked one of my tech guys, Edwin Patrick, to share his experience with Planning Center Online. “I really like using Planning Center. It allows me early access to the music to worship with all week long. It is very easy to use and I would recommend it to anyone and I have recommended it to other church friends for their worship teams.” Please note that Edwin is one of my tech guys. It’s really encouraging to me that those guys are paying as much attention to the worship set list as my platform team!
I see Planning Center as a unifying tool for the entire worship team. In addition, I have set up my lead pastor as a viewer so that he has access anytime to see what songs are on our list, or to look back at lists from recent weeks.
There are optional apps from Planning Center like “Music Stand” and “Projector” which could be really helpful as well. Music Stand will make the charts ready and available for viewing on a personal devise, and Projector will send lyrics for display. We opted not to use “Music Stand” (only $2/month additional) because my three musicians who use iPads were already using OnSong for this feature. It is fantastic that Planning Center will export charts directly to OnSong! It’s really user friendly, and supporting other apps like this are merely a bonus. We’re totally pleased and, rotating members or not, we’ll not rotate off PCO!