Planning Center is a powerful resource for your worship ministry, but there’s a lot of stuff under its hood. I mean, a lot of stuff. There’s a good chance there are solutions to your worship-ministry organization problems sitting right under your nose in PCO, but you don’t know where to start (or where to look!).

There’s a good chance there are solutions to your worship-ministry organization problems sitting right under your nose in PCO…

Well, this list should help cure that problem. Here’s a bunch of do-and-don’t tips that take a very short amount of time to implement within PCO, but you’ll see a huge return of value for the time you spend making these small tweaks.

Do transpose your song MP3s into the correct keys.
How confusing is it for a guitarist to have a chord chart in the key of C but a rehearsal MP3 in the key of D? Make sure you always upload an MP3 that’s the same key that you’re planning on using during your worship service (as reflected in your chord chart).

Luckily, PCO has a built-in transposing feature that will change your MP3 audio from the original key into the correct key in just a few clicks. The audio quality isn’t pristine, but it gets the job done. If you want extra-credit, do it in a program with an advanced transposing mode (like Ableton). Just make sure to delete the original (incorrect) key once you’re done to avoid confusion!

Don’t build your service from scratch every Sunday.
There’s a good chance you use many of the same worship service elements from week to week, even if details about them change. This is a great opportunity to create a Service Template that will pre-load whatever details you want to tell PCO to use (including service items, needed positions, service times, liner notes, and more). Using templates will give you a great base to start with, and will make “blank slate paralysis” disappear quickly.
It’s also worth it to create multiple templates with the predictable special services that happen throughout the year (baptism Sundays, child dedication Sundays, etc), so you can note what logistic changes need to happen for those special services and not forget them next time around.

Do upload the videos you’ll be using during the service.
Uploading videos to the Media tab is a great tool to make sure speakers (hosts, preaching pastors, etc.) know how to transition in and out of the videos you’ll be using during your worship service. It helps people who speak immediately after the video know how to lead out of it, and it’s also great for them to know the simple logistics of when the video is actually done.

When you schedule any speaking person for the service on PCO (make a section for Speaking/Preaching roles in your Needed Positions if you haven’t yet!), they’ll be able to view all available videos you’ve linked up to the worship service. It’s a great help for making everyone feel more comfortable about how the elements will work together.

Don’t make your chord chart arrangement impossible to follow.
For any team member who relies on chord charts during the worship service, it can become difficult to follow the arrangement if the chord chart tells you to repeat sections, “go back to the top”, or spell out directions in a manner that confuses rather than enlightens.

The answer? Simply type out your entire song – repeats included – from top to bottom, making it foolproof. If the song takes up more than one page, that’s fine. The goal is to type out every section in its entirety instead of making your musician’s eyes bounce all over the page to try to find the right words, chords, or directions. Simplify it by making the chord chart longer, and you’ll see an immediate improvement in your team following where you’re headed.

Do train your team to use the block-out calendar religiously.
If you’re responsible for scheduling, you know how much of a headache it can be when you send a PCO request and you get the dreaded “Decline” from a team member. The solution? Train your team to understand one simple rule: If they do not block out a date on the master PCO calendar, they are telling you they are available for that date. This simple rule will help team members be intentional with their calendaring and save you plenty of frustration.

One bonus training item to implement with this tip: Since they are telling you they’re available for a date by not blocking it out on the calendar, let them know if they still have to decline a request, they are the ones now responsible for finding a replacement for that worship service, not you. If you stand firm on this point, you’ll communicate how important it is to honor the whole team by using the block-out calendar regularly, and the team will be happy to help.

Don’t keep hundreds of songs visible in your Songs tab.
The average church can effectively only sing several dozen songs before they start disconnecting and feeling lost. Your musicians can also feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of songs that can creep up in your database in PCO.

The solution? Use the “Hide” button on the Songs tab (to the far right of the song title on each line) to hide the songs you haven’t used for several months. This will archive the song within your account, giving you access when you want it, but won’t take up precious room on your main Songs page. And you can always “un-hide” a song when you need it again.

Since the Songs page on PCO shows 100 songs at a time, try to keep your main Songs page less than 100 songs long. Your team will intrinsically start to identify with the “main songs” more and own them, instead of swimming through an endless sea of worship material.

Utilizing PCO can be easy if you are willing to invest a few minutes that will have a huge impact on how your team prepares and leads the church in worshiping God. Don’t miss your chance to build excellence into your worship ministry with these quick tips. Go lead
worship well!

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