OK - so, I mentioned this a few days ago, above, and I've had about 1-1/2 days working with PlanningCenterOnline.Com now. Folks, let me tell ya - this thing is like a huge portion of my job description, all bundled nicely in an incredibly easy-to-use web interface.
At first I thought it would only be appropriate for churches with larger ministries, venues, and staff ... but I think it's incredibly worthwhile even if you only had to manage the worship ministry alone.
Things I'm loving about it:
1 - I can schedule each service, assign band members, vocalists, techs, video, etc., and they are automatically emailed a notification that it's their turn to serve, and it automatically lets me know if they confirm or decline.
2 - Ability to see who was used last, when they were used, what songs were used, when they were used last.
3 - Consolidation of my master songlist, chord charts, mp3, etc., into an easy-to-use interface.
Let me park on #3 for a moment:
Since joining the staff at SSCC, I've spent my wheels for a month trying to decide how to best manage the previous, and ever-growing repetoire of music and charts. Excel spreadsheet? Manilla file folders and filing cabinet? Individual band/singer volders and binders?
With PlanningCenterOnline.Com, I can work with the existing songs that are already in there, or I can easily add my own songs, or import existing songs directly from CCLI's SongSelect program. (another resource Worship Pastor's should have in their toolbox).
I can upload .mp3 files of the song, the arrangement, I can upload .pdf of the chord charts, etc., and all of these are attached to the Ministry's Production/Flow Sheets. The band members can access the set list (they get an automated email reminding them they've been assigned to play), they can listen to the songs, they can print out their chord charts, lyrics, etc. So, one cool thing is all these arrangments in our notebook - our copier @ the church can be used in 'scan' mode and just email the .pdf to me .. attach to the song in Planning Center ... and there it is ... any time we do that song, we can just print from that master. (I think I'll keep a backup .pdf offsite, just in case!)
Speaking of arrangements, you can create multiple arrangements of a single song ... "Fred's Arrangement", Easter Arrangement", etc. And one feature I've not even used yet is the ability to type in (via their built in web interface) your own chord chart which can be transposed with a click.
Needless to say, I'm excited about this resource. I'm sure I'll mention it more, and will continue updating my discovery of it's features here.