Licensing and Software Every Worship Ministry Needs

In a few weeks, I’ll be the interim worship pastor at Mission Lakewood Church. But this is no ordinary interim gig.

I won’t be showing up to a church building containing all of the luxuries of an established church.

Mission Lakewood has no building.

It has no band equipment.

Heck, there isn’t even a band yet.

I will be building a worship ministry from the ground up because Mission Lakewood is a CHURCH PLANT.

I’m an interim worship leader. It gives me the flexibility to build Churchfront so I can help people like you. I also have an allergy to full-time employment (like most millenials), so this strange life of running small businesses and leading worship part-time suits me well.

A few weeks ago, my friend Darvin, the lead pastor of Mission Lakewood Church, approached me and said, “Hey man, we’re having a tough time finding a worship pastor for our church plant. We’ve worked through a bunch of applications and interviews and none were the right fit. Do you know anyone who would be a good fit?”

To which I replied, “Yeah I know this one guy in town who is looking to transition from his current worship leading role. I’ll ask him. If he can’t do it, let’s talk about me helping you get this thing off the ground.”

A month went by and the other worship leader I referred couldn’t do it.

Darvin came back to me and asked, “Do you want to be our interim worship leader for a few months? We launch January 28.”

After a lengthy conversation with my wife, who is pregnant with twins who happen to be due the week before the church launch, I went back to Darvin with my somewhat insane decision and told him, “Yep, I’m in.”

That is what brought me to my current situation. I need to build and launch a worship ministry within the next month. I am going to document the process for the sake of your entertainment, education, and inspiration.

There are a few key areas I’m focusing on to ensure this worship ministry launches successfully.

  • Setup an efficient system for weekly planning and administrative tasks

  • Recruit and train volunteers for the band and production team

  • Acquire all the necessary band equipment before launch

Easy, right?

I don’t know exactly what this will look like just yet, but over the next few weeks and months, you can expect most of the content from Churchfront to come out of this process. Depending on what I’m working on, I’ll share it with you in blog, video, or podcast form. Make sure you’re subscribed to all three!

Now I’ll begin the documenting process. In the remainder of this article, I am going to outline the basic licensing and software tools I will be using to lead worship. Everytime I build a worship ministry at a new church, I’m reminded of these foundational tools I often take for granted at established churches.

CCLI Copyright License

The first step is to ensure we cover all of the legal bases so we can worship God without getting slammed with a copyright fine. I’m not sure who actually enforces this type of thing, but it is fair to make sure Chris Tomlin, Joel Houston, and Jason Ingram rake in their royalty checks. Depending on your church’s needs, CCLI covers the activities of storing lyrics, printing songs, recording services, making custom arrangements, projecting lyrics, and translating songs.

CCLI Rehearsal License

I like sharing mp3 files with my band to practice with at home. I export my multitrack sessions so they can rehearse with arrangements the exact way they will be played. The rehearsal license ensures I can legally distribute those audio files with my band.

CCLI Song Select

I’m not a huge fan of CCLI Song Select chord charts, but I subscribe to it for the sake of convenience of importing lyrics into ProPresenter and Planning Center. I prefer creating my own charts or purchasing the chord pro version from Nevertheless, Song Select is on my list of tools.

So far, CCLI has made a decent chunk of change off of my worship ministry. These subscriptions cost $244 per year. That price will increase as church attendance grows. Fun fact, CCLI serves 250,000 churches world wide. Let’s assume all these churches are small and they all pay about $120/yr. That’s an annual revenue of $30 million. I’m not sure how much of that is paid out to publishers and songwriters and how much CCLI keeps, but I do know that worship music is big business.

Now that licensing is out of the way, it’s time to move onto software.

Planning Center Services

I’ve been using Planning Center for about 7 years. Over that time period they have proven themselves as the leader in the church management software industry. If Planning Center is not running your church database, I’m sorry to hear that. To get started at Mission Lakewood, we will subscribe the $29/mo services app. That should be enough to cover our team’s current size. I will use Planning Center to store my song library, plan services, schedule volunteers, and resource musicians.

ProPresenter 6

I have also been a ProPresenter user for about the past 7 years. To be honest, I actually find ProPresenter to be clunky. But it’s the best option out there to do everything I need presentation software to do. I like to control ProPresenter with Ableton Live so I can have perfect lyric slides and customize background cues throughout a song. We will also need to purchase the ProPresenter Midi Module to make this possible.

Dropbox for Teams

Dropbox is my favorite way to sync lyric and media files for ProPresenter across multiple devices. I’ve tried using ProPresenter Cloud but when I tried it a couple years ago it was clunky and never worked right. Dropbox is a much bigger company with better cloud infrastructure. I simply create a folder in Dropbox to hold my ProPresenter library and I create other dropbox folders to hold media. That way I can easily keep everything synced no matter what device I prepare slides.

That is about it for the foundation licensing and software tools I need to get started with my worship ministry. We’ll talk about music software and gear in later posts.

What other tools would you add to this list? I’m open to updating it. I want to hear your opinion in the comments.

I’m working on building the ultimate worship leader’s toolkit. It’s a document containing all of the latest and greatest software, gear and other resources for your worship ministry. It’s continuously being updated and will save you a bunch of time locating the right tools for your worship ministry.

Access the guide by clicking the button below, completing the form, and I’ll send it to your email inbox. (Fair warning, this toolkit is in its infancy. It’s going to improve over time as I do more research for this blog and people like you send in suggestions. So you should totally still fill out the form so I can email you the toolkit. Just don’t have too high of expectations yet.)