Welcome back to #BetterBySunday with PCO (Planning Center Online). As noted in previous installments, I’m a firm believer that PCO is an incredibly powerful vehicle for doing far more than simply rostering people and songs. This time we’re going to flip the script and talk about how you can actively use PCO to improve engagement for your teams and your congregation. So let’s get to it!

Tip #1 Post the YouTube videos for the songs you’ll be doing on your Facebook feed

If you’re using PCO, chances are whoever is doing your social media is already being rostered via PCO or at least has access. Regardless, getting your social media peeps to post YouTube videos for the songs you’ll be doing each Sunday is a great way to get the congregation engaged before they walk into church. There is nothing like hearing the congregation singing away at the top of their lungs, and getting these songs posted early in the week is a great way to get them there.

Tip #2 Share links for your songs in your weekly eMail newsletter

A lot of churches are using weekly newsletters to keep team members and congregants more engaged between services. This is also a great place to share links to YouTube or iTunes so people can live with the songs in your worship repertoire. This is an equally effective way to get your congregation singing along come Sunday.

Tip #3 Get your sound team in the mix

If your worship team only rehearses on Sunday morning, chances are this is the only time your sound team is truly engaged around the songs that were rostered for that week. Before we start beating up on the faithful sound peeps serving long and frequently thankless hours, let’s be honest about where most sound team problems usually start – leadership. Getting your sound team on board with listening for dynamics and arrangement cues is simply a matter of good leadership around why this is important. The vast majority of sound techs I’ve encountered were raised up in church, with far more attention given to what they do wrong versus what actual training around what being a great sound tech looks and sounds like. If your church is using PCO, your sound team already has access to the audio files – so long as they are being attached to your service plans. Noting that these files have often been transposed to fit the range of the worship leader, PCO’s ability to attach YouTube files is particularly useful for engaging your sound team. YouTube videos make it easy for sound techs to hear songs in the original key, while also allowing them to see the artist’s inflection as they move through the arrangement. Professional sound techs are expected to know the material they are mixing, and the same should be true for those serving at church. Fortunately, PCO makes implementing this super easy!

Tip #4 Do a pre-service run through with your speakers and teams

While congregations are quite forgiving when it comes to awkward pauses or missed video cues, many if not most of these mistakes can be prevented. PCO makes it easy to map your entire service, including how long each part should be. Running through the order of service with all your speakers and teams makes it easy for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing – before the service starts. Noting that videos transitions are one of the most common places where services stall and audio cues are missed, these PCO run-throughs provide a valuable opportunity for service directors to walk their tech teams through these transitions, including asking them to do test runs.

Tip #5 Doing a PCO recap with key leaders

PCO is a lot like a script is to a movie. Just because some actors like to go off script does not mean it is good for a service or the other team members. Conversely, purposely leaving a little room for people to ad lib can keep services from feeling canned. Regardless, a PCO recap with key leaders a day or two into the week is a consistently great way to get things #BetterBySunday.

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