Let me give you an ulcer: You’ve just been asked to lead a worship ministry full of people who…

  • Routinely no-show to rehearsals.
  • Give late-notice call-offs.
  • Don’t bother finding a replacement.
  • Don’t respond to scheduling requests.
  • Have availability issues. (Like, “I only can be scheduled every 3rd Sunday that falls immediately after a 2nd Saturday, and only in odd-numbered months.”)
  • Require you to scramble for at least one last-minute replacement weekly.

A team with this much dysfunction is more common than you think. I’m amazed at what some worship leaders put up with from their team members. But even if your team only has a fraction of the above infractions, you still have some very real commitment issues.

Enter Planning Center Online. Now, PCO can’t make your team more committed any more than the treadmill sitting in the corner of my bedroom (doubling as a clothes rack) can make me skinnier. PCO is merely a tool. But wielded in the right way, it can help you cultivate a more committed culture on your team.

As I work with leaders, we discuss a 3-part framework to help them build exceptional worship ministries. Here it is:

Engaged Team Members + Effective Systems x Equipped Leaders = An Exceptional Worship Ministry.

So central to every healthy worship team are systems and processes that hold the ministry together. Now, don’t let that word “system” throw you.

A system is simply your or your team’s way of getting something done. If your monthly musician scheduling process is a frantic group-text to your team members that says, “Please show up Sunday,” that’s a system. (Not a good one, by the way.)

A worship team needs several ministry systems to run well, and one of the essential systems is scheduling. During this two-part article, we’ll dig into the six elements of an effective scheduling system. And along the way, we’ll also look at the practical features of PCO that can help you make that happen.

Remember, it’s not just about producing a monthly musician roster or rotation. Creating the right scheduling system can help change your team’s culture of commitment. So let’s dig into the first two critical elements that can help you raise the “all-in” level of your team.

6 Elements of a Commitment-Building Scheduling System, Part 1

1. The Right Scheduling/Distribution Tool

Your team needs instant, 24-7 access to their schedules, the set-lists, and the music files. Emailing mp3s and Word documents from your MacBook won’t cut it.

To serve busy volunteer musicians and techs, you need a scheduling and music distribution tool that’s easy-to-use, always accessible, and updates show in real time. Check, check, and check – PCO delivers all that. It’s intuitive and easy to use for team members, and it gives them right-now access to the latest schedules and music.

Making the schedule is just the start. The next element is probably the most crucial.

2. An Expectation of Response

I spent several years shifting the culture of commitment on my team. One of the ways I did that was by creating an expectation of response and responsibility.

First, I required my team to use PCO’s Accept and Decline features.

So when I post the latest schedule, my team members are expected to respond by hitting the Accept or Decline buttons for their scheduled times. And if they decline, they are required to give a reason and find their own replacement. That’s the responsibility. More on that in part two.

Now, was this an shift easy? Oh crud no.

This article doesn’t allow space to talk about how to do that in detail. But just know I had to repeat the same expectations over and over (and over) and have more than a few “come to Jesus” conversations.

While creating expectations is crazy important, it’s not enough to just require something. If you’re truly going to change the culture, your team has to “own” their behavior within that system.

And that’s the next element of a commitment-building scheduling system that we’ll talk about in part two. But let me leave you with an encouragement.

If it feels like your team is a long way from the kind of commitment that we’re talking about here, please hear this: even small changes to your scheduling system can start the process towards building stronger commitment. Start there.

And in the second installment of this article, we’ll help you lead your team even closer.

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