For many of us, worship planning is a big part of our jobs. It's creative and fulfilling, but it can also be tedious and a little time-consuming.
Plus, the more people that are involved in your worship planning, the more complicated it gets:
Susan coordinates the lay leaders
Chris oversees the audio/visual team
The pastor plans the Scriptures, prayers, and sermon
And then there's all the music in the service...
Good communication is key to planning and leading worship services and having everything go smoothly.
Our worship planning process, as a church staff, has been a little different in each church that I've served. At one church, we planned our individual parts of the service on our own, then came together and shared our notes each week in staff meeting as we put together that Sunday's bulletin. In my current church, we keep our main planning document (for the year) on Google Docs so everyone that is involved in the services can see and contribute to it.
Looking for a new way to plan? Today, I'm sharing five digital worship planning resources, for churches of all sizes. If you're technologically-savvy, you probably know about at least a few of the resources on this list; hopefully, they simplify your process, foster collaboration, and save you time. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you use/have used any of these apps - please leave a comment below.
Five Digital Worship Planning Resources
01 | Sundays and Seasons
This Lutheran resource is based on the 3-year Revised Common Lectionary. Plan and create worship materials (download, finish formatting, and print), search for related hymns and songs; read NRSV Bible passages, and explore a range of liturgical resources. Integrates with the related Prelude Music Planner - an online music library management system (for music you own) and a searchable database of hymns, songs, anthems, and instrumental music published by Augsburg Fortress. (Starting at $239/year)
02 | Worship Trac
An all-in-one worship planning and music library management system, Worship Trac helps you keep track of all the music you own (including PDFs, Finale files, and mp3s) and plan weekly services and rehearsals. Catalog your music by adding topics, keys (e.g. G major), and Scripture references for easy searching later. Attach sheet music or mp3 recordings and add lyrics (assuming this is covered by your church's copyright license). For worship or rehearsal planning, add elements (e.g. Scripture Reading, Anthem, Prayer), and song titles and descriptions, and easily print the music you have planned with the click of a button. (free!)
03 | WorshipPlanning.com
A robust worship planning tool specifically designed for collaborative planning groups or teams. In addition to the drag-and-drop worship planning tool, this cloud-based software is full of helpful features, including an option to delegate responsibilities to willing volunteers (and set up automatic reminders), design and build your own virtual stage, manage multiple schedules for meetings and rehearsals, and build a song library. Comes with unlimited storage and a mobile app option. ($15/mo for three users. See more apps/pricing options here.)
04 | Planning Center
This online app lets you plan services, manage peoples' schedules, search for music and relevant videos, and communicate more effectively and efficiently with all those involved in your services. Add worship elements (including songs and media), estimate timing (and track it during the service), and drag and drop to rearrange, as needed. Set permissions for each user and access from anywhere via the Internet or mobile app. Communicate with team members and volunteers by email, text message, and even Facebook. Manage your song library by integrating scores, chord charts, and mp3s from multiple sources and transpose with the click of a button. Share your rehearsal files online so your team can practice at home during the week. (Free for five users, $14/mo for 25 users, and up)
P.S. Rumor has it, Hillsong uses this app.
05 | Evernote and Google Docs
Free and relatively easy to use, these tools are great for collaboration. Evernote is a free note-taking app that lets you jot down notes, organize ideas, track tasks, and save things you find online. Read my how-to-use guide here. Google Docs is a free web-based app where you can create, edit, and store documents and files online. Share files with others and edit in real time. Files can accessed from any computer with an Internet connection. (free!)
*Note: We started using Google Docs this fall. I copied and pasted this template to start, then we added rows for other elements in the service (e.g. Scripture Readings, Children's Time, Sermon, Worship Leader). Now, everyone involved in worship on a weekly basis can access our planning document and add their items, as needed.
Do you use an online worship planning tool? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!