It has arrived. The latest worship planning tool for the Grace Weekend Service Team kicked off this past Sunday. At the close of 2007, we moved our online service planning to PlanningCenterOnline.com...and I'm hooked. Here are just a few of the great features:
- Volunteer Scheduling - This is a must. However, I've found this tool is only as useful as your volunteers use it. I love the automatic email reminders it sends to team members about rehearsals and playing dates. The "block out dates" feature is also extremely helpful. Volunteers can mark dates they are unavailable which then flags them for me if I assign them to a date.
- MP3 Playback - This is what I'm really digging. The ability to upload audio files of new songs where team members can log on to their account, click on their scheduled date and if there's a new song, they can listen to it. No more CD BURNING BABY!!! Again...this tool is only as useful as the volunteer makes it. Here's to hoping our team uses it...hear me WST...use it!
- Chord Charts - This dumbfounded me. I can't believe how easy it is to keep chords and lyrics. Not only that, but when you copy and paste the lyrics and chords into the planning center, you can create another arrangement within the same key. What does that mean? Well, if you're a capo freak such as myself and you've got a song that is played in the key of G but you want an alternate chord chart for playing with your capo on the 5th fret in the D chord structure, just indicate the alternate chord structure within the key and make your "capo 5th fret" note and voila...it automatically creates a separate arrangement for the capo. These can be downloaded as PDF files. Unbelievable.
- Songselect - If you're a member of the CCLI and use the Songselect site, you can export the notes on songs to your computer then upload them to the Planning Center site and all of the important info automatically gets updated on that song. Author, year, publishing company and CCLI number. All the stuff you're supposed to be displaying on your video screens during services to be copyright compliant. This is the easiest tool I've seen for this. Also, if you're in a reporting period with CCLI, Planning Center can automatically report printing and play dates to CCLI. How cool is that?!?! By the way, if you aren't using Songselect, go get it here.
- Video Training - They have done an awesome job at creating training videos. I've had all my questions answered instantly by watching the vids. Good stuff.
- Ministries - Not only can this tool be helpful to the Grace Weekend Service Team, but we can add various ministries under the same account. For instance, if the youth ministry planned worship services and wanted to use this tool they could. And their team could log in only under the specified ministry. Great for CCLI reporting which comes every 3 years or so. I think we're going to give this a shot with the children's ministry when their ready to make the leap.
I'm sure as we go along I'll find something that is missing or would be good to add. They've got a great forum where you can make your recommendations and they listen. I highly recommend this tool for anyone involved with planning services with a worship team.