I recently wrote a post on Tech that works for me…. that is, apps, devices and systems that I use on a daily basis to get the job done. I think anyone that uses a device to get their job done can benefit from that post.
This post is specifically for those in the realm of “Church”. Over the years, we’ve had to be smart about the tech we use at Eastside so that we can do as much as possible with as little as possible. That means that we’ve tried and tested a lot of software solutions – and have landed at a place that works. Here are our “must have” software options
Planning Center Online
I doubt there is anything better than PCO when it comes to church management. Admittedly, we’ve only actively used one other provider in the last 10 years (and that was a disaster) but I’ve done research on many of the other packages out there and I don’t think there’s anything better. Here’s what we use on a weekly basis:
Planning Center People
We use People for database; workflow management from our connect cards (we can see easily which connect cards haven’t been followed up or where they are in the process of being followed up); lists for various information we need; forms and to keep pastoral notes of people in the church
Planning Center Services
All our meetings, events and services are set up on Services and so this acts as our calendar invite facility as well. People are scheduled for their serving roles; songs are pulled into services and available for the worship team and volunteers are able to block out dates. The Services app is also fantastic as we can easily communicate with volunteers on it, and it syncs with CCLI so it’s easy to pull in song chords, do reporting etc. Using Services also offers us additional apps, like the Services app and the Music Stand app. Music Stand automatically pulls chord sheets through that the muso’s can follow on their smart devices.
Planning Center Check-ins
Check-ins allows us to check children into KidsMin, or adults into events or volunteers into services. Name labels are printed, security codes assigned and this adds a level of security to KidsMin and helps us with information in other areas. The ChurchCenter app also makes it so easy for families to check themselves in
Planning Center Resources
We have many rooms that are used regularly, so we use Resources to manage the booking of the venues and resources for those venues. No venue may be used unless it was booked via Resources (cough, in theory)
Planning Center Groups
Each Life Group has a “groups” page where they are able to access information, share resources etc. We also have other groups such as a Take Them A Meal group, Dream Team groups etc that we can use to schedule meetings and share communication
Registrations is an amazing event registration system. Any events we host require users to RSVP via the registrations page on the ChurchCenter app or the Registrations page. This links directly to checkins for the event
Our media setup on a Sunday is as follows: We have 3 large screens (2x 5m screens and 1x 8m screen) that we present onto for the congregation and a 48″ TV we have for the Stage Display. All this is controlled via ProPresenter 6, which links directly with PCO. (*We have just upgraded to ProPresenter 7, but haven’t started using it live in our services yet)
Again, I’m of the opinion that there is nothing better on the market. ProPresenter is able to sync brilliantly with Planning Center services, and pull all elements of a service through to your ProPresenter playlist. Song management, media management and themes work brilliantly. Be warned, the quality does come at a price.
Loop Community Prime
We make use of tracks in our services. What this means is that we have a band of live instruments that are aided by some additional instruments that are not live. The biggest benefit to Prime and using tracks is that it forces us to stay on time and be tight as a band. It also helps if we have a week without a drummer, or bassist, for example. Prime is free as an app (you only pay for tracks you buy, but you can upload your own for free) and comes with some added benefits:
- It’s very easy to be spontaneous and make on the fly changes during worship sets
- Prime has MIDI out, so we can send Midi cues to ProPresenter and control lyrics etc remotely. This is a huge benefit when we want to use special lyric videos as the timing is exact
- Setlists sync across devices so all our band members with an iOS device are able to rehearse the right song, in the right key, and the right tempo, in the right arrangement. It makes our rehearsals much shorter
We use the Google suite for all our file and document storage. Our meeting minutes are captured on Google Docs and our computers all backup to a 2TB Google Drive account via the Google Backup & Sync app.
Our @eastside email is also hosted through Google, so our email is accessible via the gmail.com URL. This also makes file sharing incredibly easy.
I wrote a little about Asana in this post, but in short, Asana is the latest app in to make it into the Eastside family. We use Asana to add tasks out of our staff meetings, manage projects (like our Volunteer Weekend I wrote about here) and request things like maintenance or design elements with our off-site graphic designer (who introduced me to this amazing piece of tech)
Over the years, we have tried a few different apps and systems. Right now, this is what works for us, but that doesn’t mean they will always work for us. Having said that, we are looking at future-proof systems when we add something to our workflow, so I do suspect these will be around for a while.