Worship Planning on a Cloud

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According to my friend, Scott, the worship leaders at his church have a most heavenly place for worship planning. They meet in a cloud. Wow! Imagine the inspiration of that heavenly conference room.

Of course, that’s not what he meant. We were playing around with another friend’s Ipad II, drooling over the apps that allowed my daughter to draw, my husband to watch the game, and friend June to design quilting patterns. Scott said that the worship leaders and pastor of his church use their IPads to plan worship by docking their worship plan in “the cloud”—a virtual file cabinet that is accessible to all those who have a key, i.e., know the password. The worship planners can access, read and edit the plan, leaving behind a new version of the service or distributing the chord charts for the musicians.

This is a far cry from the days of having to squeeze our schedules to find meetings with the worship committee, musicians or whomever else is involved in the service. We’d sit together around a table, brainstorming on the board and someone would take notes. He or she typed up the notes and shot out the first draft to the group via email. The committee members would all offer their suggestions and the editor would re-edit the worship order, compiling the changes into the master document and re-send it out, hoping not to send the wrong version.

Just three years ago, a pelaton of CRC bikers stopped in Denver on their way across the country and, in preparation for our community worship service, we edited the worship plan eight times—each time re-filing and re-sending the document. What a nuisance!

Worship planning can be so much more convenient than that! Sharing documents for worship (plans, chord charts, etc.) speeds up the planning process, allows more people to participate (not just those who can make the meeting,), and keeps us all on the same page.

Sharing documents does not require the purchase of an Ipad or other Mac equipment. In our church, we share our worship plans on a common hard drive. We also have the capacity to use Google Docs, we just haven’t started using it yet.  

What other options are available to worship planners? How has technology assisted your worship planning? What have you found most helpful? What difficulties have you encountered?

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I forgot to include the planning center site that some of you have mentioned on the Forum.  Looks like a more comprehensive tool than simple document exchange, but helpful for coordinating worship planning.

Here is the web site for the planning site:  www.planningcenteronline.com

Our worship team is using google Docs. Our worship director works from home most of the time, and can easily update it from there, then the office team can check online to get the information to update bulletins and get the music ready for rehearsals. It's definitely so much easier than emailing files back and forth!

We've been using Google Docs for almost 3 years.  It works well to allow the minister and music coordinator plan services online, although usually a phone call occurs while both are logged on to the order of worship in question.  The music coordinator colour codes the labels for the musicians so they can each see and rehearse the music they're responsible for in the service.  Then on Thursdays, the bulletin clerk can log-on and cut and paste the order of worship into the bulletin and the audio/video coordinator can view the service and prepare the slides that are needed for songs and responsive readings.

Being in the cloud allows everyone to have the up-to-date document.  The only hiccups occur when someone prints a copy before it's been finalized online or when the initial document owner forgets to extend permission for one or more person to access the document.

Participant

We've been using google docs as well. It takes a bit of adjusting to, but overall it serves us well and allows worship planners to contribute when convenient. We also keep a record of all our services in a member-only forum on our website that anyone with a password can go back and revisit, or cut & paste, etc. What's really cool is when you happen to be on the same time as someone else and you can see the letters appear as they are typing. And with automatic notices if the site has been updated, and a document review option, it's very easy to know when you're working with the final document.

Participant

Our church has just started to use Service Builder dot Net(I can' put a link because of a spam filter). It is similar to Planning Center Online but free (It does accept donations).  There is not a limit to the number of users or people like the free version of planning center.  It is a great tool.

You can create multiple service templates for your typical order of worship or start from scratch each week.  Pull them the templates when you layou thte service.  Then all you have to do is ad the songs that you would like to sing into the spot.  You can also assign people to do certain parts of the service.  Each worship planner can work on the service.  There are comment sections where you can share your ideas before the service gets finalized.  

Each church basically creates their own song database.  Most praise songs are already inputed so you just have to search by name or title and click to ad it to your set of songs. You can link to powerpoint, lyrics and chord sheets on a public DropBox folder (a free cloud service).  You can even set up links to Utube videos and MP3 online that sing it in a similar style so your band can play.    A few other CRC churches must be using it as well because it has the Grey, Blue and Red Psalter hymns already in its song database and you can set it as your default hymnal.  We do a mix of praise songs and hymns and it works great.   You can even search for songs that you haven't song in a certain time period (weeks or months) and look at future and past services.  

You can attach a file with the written components or link to a Google document in the comment section.

The reason, we really like ServiceBuilder is because it has great tools for all the roles of a worship service.  You basically create a database of your workers and can assign them to roles in the service (guitar, vocals, prayer, reader, worship leader, organist, etc).  You can assign people to other roles as well nursery, greeter, setup, etc.   We don't have a church secretary.  Service Builder allows multiple volunteers to schedule their role (sound guys do theirs, nursery their schedule, etc.).  The best part is that you can set it up to automatically notify who are schedule to serve (via email or text -if they approve this method) the monday before they are scheduled to serve.  People can confirm that they will serve via the message.

I realize that this may sound complicated but it isn't.   Once you input the data, it does a lot of the work for you.  Jason, the developer, is open to ideas.  He has a heart for smaller churches who can't afford Planning Center.