In 2011, I was hired for my first “real job” as a worship leader. It was a part-time position at a mid-sized church with two services. When I arrived the first day of work, the lead pastor told me they used Planning Center Services to plan their worship gatherings. I had never used Planning Center before. I had no clue how much I was mission out on this powerful tool.
Within a few days of using the software, I discovered how much easier my life as a worship leader would become. For the past seven years in worship ministry, it has been just as important of a tool to me for staying organized as other apps like Gmail, Dropbox, and iCal.
I cannot image worship ministry without it.
I want to pause and let you know that Planning Center is not sponsoring this post and I am not an affiliate partner. In my opinion, they are currently the best option for church management software, and their domination of this space all began with their Planning Center Services app.
If you are not using Planning Center to keep your worship ministry organized, you are missing out big time.
Here are 6 reasons why your worship ministry should use planning center
Reason #1 - It’s budget-friendly (even free).
Planning Center can fit the budget of any worship ministry. If you have zero to five people on your team, you can use it for free. It doesn’t get any more budget friendly than that. If you have more than five people, their entry-level paid plan costs only $14/month. With this plan, you can have up to 25 members on your team. As your ministry grows, the plans grow with you.
Reason #2 - Managing your song library
Planning Center has three core functionalities for any worship ministry. With it, you can create service plans, communicate with your team, and manage a song library. Even if you do not use Planning Center to create service plans and communicate with your team, at the very least, you can use it as a way to manage your song library and create practice resources for your bands like chord charts and MP3 files.
Every worship ministry needs a place to keep its song library organized in such a way that you can quickly browse through your music and download charts and MP3 files. Planning Center makes this easy and organized. You can import songs directly from CCLI’s database, making it easy to keep up with reporting. You can create custom tags and categories to help you separate them into different themes and genres. You can quickly run a report to see how many times you have sung a particular song in the past year. These features can be beneficial as you plan worship on a weekly basis and over a long-term period of time.
Reason #3 - The lyric and chord editor
Planning Center has a powerful lyric and chord editor built into its interface. I highly recommend creating all of your chord charts within this editor rather than just attaching PDF files to the song. You’ll have the flexibility to transpose music on the fly within the software. You never know when you may need to make a last minute key change.
You can also upload audio files to a song within Planning Center so your musicians can listen and practice along at home. While you can link songs from Spotify and Youtube, I don’t recommend it. Uploading the raw MP3 file of a legally purchased song makes it much easier for your band to practice with because you can easily transpose the MP3 file to the proper key. Within the song arrangement editor, you can transpose chord charts and MP3 files in seconds. Make sure you have the CCLI rehearsal license for legally sharing these files with your team.
Reason #4 - Scheduling and communicating with your team
One of the biggest challenges we face as worship leaders are scheduling our team members on a weekly basis. Planning Center makes this process incredibly easy. My one caveat is you need to establish an expectation with your team members that they download the Planning Center app on their phone and turn on notifications, or they actually pay attention to their email inbox. This tool is only as useful as how much your team can buy into using it. Once you’ve added your team members to your Planning Center account, you can assign them to the appropriate position for a worship service in seconds. Planning Center will generate the emails and notifications to send to them and all they need to do is accept or decline the invitation.
Reason #5 - Creating service plans
As worship leaders, we need to approach our worship gatherings with a plan. Of course, not everything will always go to plan and we should be flexible to the Holy Spirit, but we need to approach worship with some sense of order. The service plan feature in Planning Center makes it easy to draw up an order of service so your team knows what is supposed to happen and who is responsible for leading the different parts of the worship gathering.
The service plan feature is the best way to make sure you and the other members of the pastoral staff are on the same team. Throughout the week, everyone has one central place to edit and tweak the plan. It can easily be printed out or you can view it from a mobile device. A half hour before the worship at our church we always gather with our other leaders to run through the plan and pray.
Reason #6 - Integrations
Finally, Planning Center plays well with other important pieces of software for your worship ministry including CCLI, ProPresenter, Praise Charts, Rehearsal Mix, and other song resource website like Essential Worship, Worship Together, and the Worship Initiative. These integrations will save you a lot of time and administrative headache.
Of course, Planning Center Services integrates with the rest of the Planning Center suite of apps. Ultimately, I would encourage your church to migrate its entire church management over to Planning Center. I’ve used a lot of different church management software and none of them are as user-friendly yet still as powerful as Planning Center.
If you are ready to use Planning Center to stay organized and manage your worship ministry, I want to invite you to check out Worship Leader School, where you’ll find the essential training, advice, and support you need to plan and lead worship. One of the courses inside worship leader school walks you through the essentials of Planning Center Services for your worship ministry. In less than an hour, you’ll be up and running with this powerful software.
What questions do you have about Planning Center for worship teams? Let me know below in the comments.