As ministry leaders, we face a unique challenge—the repetition of programming. It doesn’t matter how inspiring and powerful your worship was this Sunday, for example, because next week you’ll need to create another meaningful experience. Repetition is a significant hurdle for all those involved in planning weekly worship, Bible study, children’s and youth programming, and all other reoccurring ministries. They all require careful attention to organization, communication, creativity, and preparation. I’ve recruited a powerful partner in ministry to help me handle this drumbeat of responsibility: it’s called PlanningCenter.
Tools like PlanningCenter give me life-saving efficiency in my ministry. Here are four practical benefits we gain when utilizing this online tool…
- Organization – PlanningCenter centralizes all your information. We often have bits and pieces of information floating around between team members, or even sticky notes on our computer monitors. This online tool is designed to collect and curate every part of your planning process. From creative ideas, scheduling volunteers, developing a plan, printing up lesson plans or worship orders, storing song recordings as well as all your sheet music. I know this feels like an infomercial, so maybe it’s time to say, “But wait, there’s more!” Like any tool we use in ministry, the more we use it, the better our organizational process becomes.
- Communication – Providing information to every team member can be challenging but imagine how helpful it would be if information was sent automatically, and what if everyone on your team knew where to go to find the latest information? Imagine you’re leading a children’s ministry and you need to schedule volunteers—making sure they have the necessary materials to lead a children’s small group. You and your leadership team could plan the small group, upload all the materials, schedule your volunteers, and know exactly who is going to be there to lead each week, all with a few clicks—it’s amazing! There is so much more to support your children’s ministry.
- Creativity – Whether you are planning weeks or months in advance or “making the donuts” week to week, we all need a powerful tool to aid in the creative process. We use PlanningCenter to add notes, creative ideas, video possibilities, song options, and whatever else comes from our planning meeting. All this information is categorized by weeks, and we can refer to this information throughout the planning process. If you are planning worship, this tool is helpful to cultivate themes, song options, sermons, liturgical elements, videos all in one place.
- Preparation – Volunteers can often feel unprepared to lead. PlanningCenter is a powerful tool which allows you to provide all the information your team needs to be successful. Small-group leaders can access additional commentary information, how-to’s for leading, weekly announcements, and so much more. Musicians can access sheet music, recordings, and special notations that help them feel prepared to lead. This is a great way to show our volunteers and team members how much they’re valued, and to prepare them to use their gifts.
Like every tool in my garage, PlanningCenter is only valuable when I use it. Tools like this maximize our time and energy, elevating our creativity and our impact.
Rev. Dr. Mark Slaughter serves as the Minister of Worship Arts at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN. In addition to his 35+ years of ministry, he received a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University.