Planning Center Online is a little gift from above for those of us who schedule church services. Now this post is in no way endorsed by them, I’m not receiving a kickback, the people at Planning Center Online do not even know I exist. This post comes out of years of experience, and a want to help churches get better. I remember back to when my tech team schedule was a Word document, or when I upgraded to Excel (those were the days.) Trying to keep my list straight and make sure that I really did have coverage. My reason for this post comes from many churches asking for advice out of frustration with their current way of organizing their teams. When I ask if they’re using Planning Center Online (PCO) I often hear two things, the first being no and the second, is that they only use it for one thing. Maybe as a team database, or for simple scheduling. I can tell you from first hand experience, only half using this solution is a frustrating world for all parties involved.
So what does Planning Center Online offer?
- Entire team database. All production, vocalist, choir, and band are quickly accessible in the search features.
- Service flow. Build your service, add times and notes. Print off a run sheet for the entire team, and everyone stays connected.
- Rehearsals. Upload mp3 files of the worship songs along with the chord charts/sheet music for the band to rehearse too. No more coming in mid-week to pick up their song book for the weekend.
- Scheduling. Takes some of the hassle out of scheduling with multiple ways to get people plugged in.
- Block Out Dates
- Team Scheduling
- Signup Sheets (allows team members to sign themselves up)
- Auto Scheduling
Those are the four big features of PCO (in my opinion.) There are some other cool things like Music Stand, Projector, and Resource Calendar. I have not personally needed to use the other features but know that others really like the Music Stand feature for using their iPad on stage. For my team, I have people who want to serve the same time each month setup into “Teams” that I schedule as far out as we have services listed for. Then I use the Signup Sheets to allow those with more flexible schedules to fill in where they can. If someone declines, PCO will show you who else is available. The whole thing makes scheduling a lot easier (unless you start pushing buttons like I did that one time.)
In the service flow, place as much information as you can to help your team. I normally look to see who is leading each song, what key it is (setting audio plugins) and if there is a fill track. Other info I have seen people put here is dress code, call times, and a general checklist for the entire team. Use this sheet to keep everyone on the same page. The service flow is also where I have seen churches give up. They don’t feel the need, or maybe do not know where to start. I can tell you the need is there, keeping your entire team on the same page is crucial in today’s media driven services.
To help you get started here’s a sample service order from Northview: August 31 & September 1, 2013 I blacked out last names for privacy, as well as leaving the team list off, but that is normally printed at the bottom. Hopefully this can give you can get an idea of what these look like (at least for us.) Often times my copy at the sound board is covered in handwritten notes by the end of the weekend.
I purposefully kept this post brief. Wanting to just give you some ideas, I would love to talk to you more about how to implement PCO into your service flow. Feel free to contact me here: CONTACT and let’s talk.