Planning Center Online is a powerful resource for your worship ministry, but there’s a lot of stuff under its hood. I mean, a lot of stuff. We covered a lot of turf in last month’s quick do’s-and-don’ts list, but because of how deep and wide of a resource Planning Center is, here’s another full list of 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 implementing them.

Try out Planning Center’s “Live” mode.

Planning Center Live is an amazing function in PCO that simplifies the entire Planning Center experience during your actual worship services. Your device’s screen looks very similar to a stage-display screen while in Live mode, showing notes for each PCO element, timer, what’s coming next, and much more.

If you’ve ever had a chronic problem with your worship services going long (or ending short) and you want to know where exactly the holdup is, look no further than Planning Center Live. Live Mode will record the actual length of each element and compare it with the time you had slotted in PCO for that song to take. It can be very eye-opening to see how long it actually takes to get through all five repeats of your favorite bridge!

Don’t forget to assign “roles” to each chord chart and MP3 you upload.

If you’ve gone the extra mile to make specific notes on a chord chart or recorded a special MP3 to help a certain team member (vocalist, guitarist, etc.) practice their part, that’s a wonderful thing to do! But please make sure you remember to assign who needs to see the file, instead of leaving that part blank. Why? Because the entire team will have a tough time weeding through 25 different PDFs for a single worship service, trying to figure out which five are the charts they actually need to
worry about.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t require you “hiding” files or anything of that sort. When assigning roles to your file, you’re just telling PCO to only show that file to the people who need that file. If you never assign any roles to your files, that means everyone can see everything (which can get cumbersome and cluttered if you’re not too careful). Assigning roles makes everybody’s chord chart experience that much more positive and productive!

Use tags for each song you create to help you plan well in the future.

PCO allows you to add tags/keywords to each song (or video) you add to your library. Adding tags is a super valuable thing to do if you follow any sort of liturgy pattern and have your songs grouped by type (adoration, thanksgiving, confession, etc). You might want to tag the scripture(s) each song refers to so you can look up book/chapter references as you plan each service to see if you can land in the same place the senior pastor is landing.

Tagging also works for videos. You can narrow your entire database to a few short files if you’ve labeled them all appropriately. I personally tag my videos as “Intro Video”, “Announcement”, “Special Event”, “Call To Worship”, “Mini-Movie”, and “Sermon Bumper”. By searching according to tag, you can hone in on what you want to use very quickly.

Try auto-scheduling your team using the Matrix mode.

What!?!? Artificial intelligence!?!? For real, though. PCO will auto-schedule your teams for you within the Matrix mode for as many services as you have open on the screen (which you can customize, up to several services at once).

How is this possible? It’s much less complex than it sounds. Auto-schedule relies on you making sure that a few pieces of info are correct: “Needed positions” for each service (one drummer, two female vocalists, etc.) need to be included in your service, and team members must have correct role assignments (bassist, keyboardist, etc.) and appropriate scheduling parameters (“available 1x per month, available 3x per month, etc.) attached to their user profile. Also, make sure team members are appropriately using block-out dates in the master calendar.

Once these pieces are all in place (which might take just a little bit of time to get right the first time, but then it’s done!), all you do is hit the Auto-schedule button, and PCO will go to work for you! You can make any edits on what PCO automatically scheduled once the process is complete. Magic!

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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