Planning Center: A Modern Tool for Ministry

Planning Center Planning Matrix

It used to happen regularly. I would schedule a massively large anthem. Rehearsals would commence and we would be making excellent headway. A couple of weeks prior to the presentation in worship, I would check the handwritten calendar on the table and see that several of my top singers had signed out. Now, I have to scramble and adjust to present an effective anthem in worship.

In that same week, my sound guy would have to be absent. Then, the scripture reader would change. I began to think — isn’t there a better way to do this?

Planning and coordinating personnel are so important to effective ministry. Not only do I have to coordinate musicians for each service, I assist with ushers, sound and video, communion servers, scripture readers, and acolytes. Spread across three traditional worship services and one contemporary service, much of my time is spent making sure that everyone has the material that they need to accomplish their task  — equipping leaders in the execution of worshipping the Holy.

Enter planning center.

A little over a year ago, I went to this scheduler to coordinate personnel. Each member of the team is entered into the online database. They can accept an assignment. They can login and block out dates that they will be absent. And, they can do this from work or home and know that we are informed.

At first, there was some wailing and gnashing of teeth. Technology can be a significant leap for some people. However, since going to this system, I’ve tried to remain very consistent and remind people that this is how things work now. They are assisting me. By using this tool, I have one place to check and see the availability of my people. I remind them that assisting the ministry by saving my most valuable asset — my time. If they don’t have time or cannot master it, I ask them to e-mail me and I will enter it for them. Most people enter it directly. Few ask me to do it.

Yes, there are times that a simple calendar would work. But, as I have found out over the years, a calendar can be removed or someone has to wait until your rehearsal or Sunday morning to inform you of their absence. This way, feedback is immediate and up to date.

There is a feature that several of my choir members do enjoy — the Music Stand app. Available for the iPad, the choir member can review the They get up to date service plans, see the music, and can flip quickly from item to item. I lead worship using the Music Stand app on my iPad. Several choir members have downloaded the app to their iPads and us them in worship, too. It’s simple and easy.

I does have it’s flaws — it is really set up for more contemporary worship settings — and I have to figure out some work arounds. But overall, it is a very helpful tool.

Now, our worship band is coordinated by our band leader via Planning Center Online. Our band’s music library and charts are in one searchable database (Note: we pay to provide this feature to be in line with copyright law, adding a CCLI license that allows for rehearsal tracks to be shared.). The acolyte coordinator schedules and reminds via the Planning Center. Slowly, we have begun to embrace this new way of coordinating worship for the Holy.

I will add that this service isn’t free. We do pay a monthly fee. But, the time saved is well worth it.

What current and effective tools do you use in ministry?

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