“I can’t wait to work on the worship team schedule.” Said no worship leader. Ever.

Scheduling is potentially the most ulcer-producing activity for worship leaders, so last month we started exploring a couple of different ways that a good scheduling system or process can build a more committed team.

Let’s pick back up with the third critical element that can help you raise the “all-in” level of your team.

6 Elements of a Commitment-Building Scheduling System, Part 2

3. Shared Responsibility & A Sense of Ownership
In Part 1, we talked about creating an expectation of response. That is, when I send the schedule out, my team is expected to accept or decline via PCO. If they decline, they are required to give a reason and attempt to find their own replacement. That creates responsibility. But expectations of responsibility are just rules unless there is genuine ownership.

To deepen the sense of responsibility and build ownership, we use the “Blockout” feature inside the PCO Services app. Team members can mark inside of PCO any dates for which they’re unavailable (for both weekend services AND our rehearsal night). If I happen to schedule someone on a blocked out weekend, that’s on me, but if a team member doesn’t block and I schedule him, he’s required to look for a replacement. Now, do I help team members find a fill-in? Sure. I’m happy to do that. But what we’ve (almost) eradicated on my team is the nonchalant declining with no sense of personal responsibility. Blocking dates is a simple way to give team members a sense of (healthy) control and ownership.

Now, to make the expectation of blocking out dates stick with your team, you need the next element of a great scheduling system.

4. A Predictable Rhythm
Early on in ministry, I used to create a schedule for three or four months at a time. Then, I’d scramble for several weeks to pull a team together each Sunday. Eventually, I’d go on another administrative bender and schedule four months out. (Yes. Yes, I was a very stupid 20-something.)

You can’t expect people to take ownership and responsibility for an unpredictable scheduling process. People need predictability.

For my team, we’ve established a rhythm for scheduling one month at a time, two months out. So in mid to late January, I schedule March. In February, I schedule April, and so on. Each month around the 15th, we send a reminder to the team (via PCO’s email system) to block their dates out for the upcoming schedule.

Speaking of making schedules out for multiple weeks, that’s the next element of a commitment-building scheduling system.

5. The Ability to Batch Process
It takes less time to schedule four Sundays at one time than it does to schedule four Sundays at four different times. That’s batch processing. It’s grouping similar tasks together to streamline the operation. With the PCO Matrix feature, which allows me to see multiple weeks altogether, batching becomes a no-brainer.

Now, with all these characteristics of a great scheduling system, the capstone holding it all together is the next one:

6. Purposeful Modes of Communication
Years ago, when I arrived at my current church to rebuild a once-thriving worship ministry, I found the administrative assistant using three different forms of communication just for
the schedule.

She’d mail a hard copy of the monthly roster. Then email a PDF of the same thing. Then, each week, several email reminders would go out, along with an automated phone call.

That system essentially begged the team members to ignore most of the messages.

Once we moved to PCO, I determined that each communication form would have a primary purpose. Texting and phone calls are for immediate, urgent, or last-minute communications. Snail mail is for important, “everyone-please-read” communication (like policy changes or an upcoming training event). And email is our mode for the routine dissemination of schedules, setlists, reminders, etc.

And with PCO Services app, those emails can now be instant notifications for the smartphone users.

Now, you might have someone who says, “I don’t check my email” (or have a smartphone, or whatever). But it goes back to creating expectations. Firmly. and with love, tell them, “If you’re committed to this team, you need to check your email (or turn on the Services app notifications). That’s our system that runs this part of our ministry.”

Bottomline: systems create behavior. Good systems produce good behavior, and bad systems produce, well, ulcers.

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The founder of WorshipTeamCoach.com, a resource that helps worship leaders build strong teams and lead engaging worship. He lives in Lexington, Ohio with his wife Shannon and their four kids. WorshipTeamCoach.com

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