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5 Planning Center Hacks for Worship Leaders

5 Planning Center Hacks for Worship Leaders

Want to get the most out of your favorite service planning app? Check out these 5 simple hacks to help you plan and program better than ever before:

1. The Matrix

The Matrix feature in Planning Center is simply an expanded view where you can see and edit several services and service types at the same time. Basically, you can observe all of your main service plans, your night of worship plan, and your youth services. There are really no limits of what you can view in the Matrix. (I’ll refrain from the Neo jokes.)

Not only can you see many different plans, but you can also see every part of the plan, including plan details, order of service, people scheduled, and more. This is where the Matrix becomes super handy. You can schedule people for plans directly from the Matrix, including a really helpful drag-and-drop feature.

The flexibility and functionality of the Matrix will save you time scheduling, programming, and it’s even helpful for planning meetings.

2. Auto-Schedule

Auto-Schedule is a feature found at the top of the Matrix that allows you to automatically schedule people based on their team, availability, and scheduling preferences. That’s right; you can use this feature to schedule any team, in any plan, for any length of time.

The one caveat for this hack is that I would suggest you do your best to include as much info on your team’s schedule as possible. This means getting your team’s scheduling preferences, block dates, and household information into their People file.

Doing a little work on the front-end will save you a ton of work on the back end.

3. Full Screen Chord Editor

On the Arrangement tab of any Song File, you can find the Chord Editor in the top left corner of the screen. Here you can compose your own custom charts for your team.

Why use this editor? Because it has the ability to transpose your chart to any key/capo you need with the click of a button. I know; I hear the hallelujah chorus too.

To get the most out of this hack, I suggest you use the Chord Pro Format to write your charts. Want to learn how to do that? I made a free e-book to help.

4. Email Templates

You can create your own custom email templates to save time in sending emails you send often. I have email templates for content (charts, mp3s, etc.) being ready, game tape reviews, and rehearsal tracks being ready. These are weekly emails I send out, so creating a template for these emails lets me send these emails in seconds.

My advice: Take a moment to list the emails you send regularly to your teams, and take a few minutes to craft a good template for each.

5. Song File Filter

In the Songs tab, you’ll find an awesome filter on the left of the page. This filter can help you program a great worship set. If you input your charts like I suggested above and go the extra mile when inputting song files to include extra information (i.e. BPM, Meter, CCLI connection, etc.), you can filter these songs to help you find the right song for your set.

It’s easy to forget great songs when you’re deep into planning. Using this filter will help you find songs that are mid tempo (i.e. 80-100 BPM), in the key of C, and have a theme of grace. Using this tool will help you to remember all the songs in your stable, and ultimately help you find the perfect song.

So those are some of my favorite ways to get the most out of Planning Center. What are your secret hacks? Share them in a comment below.

About The Author

Chris Denning

Chris is a worship leader, writer, and consultant who has a passion to help other creatives serve the Church even better. He’s the Creative Arts Pastor at Journey Church, writer at cdenning.com, and the Chief Guru at PCOGuru, a consulting company focused on helping churches with their Planning Center Online products. Chris lives outside of Charlotte, NC with his beautiful wife, Abrie, and sweet daughter, Addison.

7 Comments

  1. Mat

    Love the audio file transposition option. Upload your audio track (with the appropriate licensing of course) as an MP3, attach it to the original key, then transpose away to whatever key needed for your set!

    Reply
  2. Chris Denning

    Totally agree! And you’re right, proper licensing is the key, but the benefits of having the ability to post and transpose MP3s like that is KILLER!

    Reply
  3. Steve Witwicki

    I find that custom reports are a great feature. With a little HTMl knowledge and info gleaned from their “liquid programming” techinique, I can create a report to meet almost any need. We have custom service orders (used in conjunction with the ability to add custom notes on service elements for all our key areas. Now when I print a service order for any of the following: band, vocals, pastor, sound, slides . . . they only see the instructions and cues that pertain to them and don’t get confused or miss something because they have read beyond fields like key, tempo, etc. The slide doesn’t need to know who’s starting the intro to the next tune and the pastor could care less what key or tempo the tune is. Custom reports allows you to format (fonts, sizes, etc.) exactly the way you want it to make reading easier. I even have an 11″x17″ (tabloid) version formatted to print for band members who want to put the setlist on the floor and not on their music stands. If you’d like to see a sample of what I’m talking about check out this URL: http://tinyurl.com/ncy9n9k There’s also a link there to email me.

    Reply
  4. Chris Denning

    @Steve – That’s some really great stuff, thanks for the link!

    Reply
  5. Kyle hildebrand

    Anyone have a hack for creating a “Quarterly Song List” or some form of seasonal song list which team members could then use to practice on their own with?

    Reply
    • CHRIS DENNING

      Hey Kyle,

      I’ve seen churches do lots of things for this, but this is the simplest solution:

      – Create a plan in your Service Type and name it “Quarterly Song List”
      – Set a random date for it. (Doesn’t matter what it is, because you’re going to remove it in the next step)
      – Delete the Service Times in the top left corner of the plan. This will allow the songs to be available for as long as you need them, you can just change the songs as needed.
      – Add all the people you want to have access. Instead of sending notifications, simply mark them all as “Confirmed”. This will allow this plan to pop up for them. You can add/subtract people as needed.
      – Add the songs you want included.

      That’s it! Then all your people added to this plan will have access to these songs.

      Reply

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