What Is Planning Center?

Planning Center is a suite of apps you can use to make your church better.

This video will walk you through each Planning Center App and show you how you can use them in your church to get better.

I plan to do a deep dive video into each application in the coming months, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube so you don’t miss them!


What is Planning Center?

At its core, Planning Center is a suite of apps that you can use to make your church better in just about every area. Each app solves a specific problem in ministry.

You’ve probably heard of Planning Center Services, that was their initial flagship app, but Planning Center Services has grown to over 10 different applications. And there’s even some add-on applications. They are constantly working to improve these apps to make things easier and faster for you and your church ministry.

In this video, I’m going to give you an overview of each of the Planning Center applications and how you can use them in your ministry to get better…starting right away.

Okay, let’s dive in. Hi everyone, I’m Joshua, I’m the creator of WorshipResources.church. We help you discover and learn how to use quality resources that will make your church better.

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In this video, we’re gonna be talking about all of the Planning Center applications, but I plan to do a deep dive into each one of these applications. So you don’t miss that information, be sure to subscribe below, click that button right below me and subscribe to this channel.

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Okay, let’s take a look at each of the Planning Center applications. When you hear Planning Center, you probably are thinking Planning Center Services. That application is their flagship app.

We’re gonna get into what it does in just a minute, but Planning Center overall is a church management system or a CMS. It’s a way for you to manage the systems and processes in your church. Each application serves a specific function and helps you get better in those areas.

Planning Center People is the core app of Planning Center.

You can think of it like the central hub. All of the other applications pull their information from Planning Center People.

Planning Center People is like your main database where you store addresses, names, phone numbers, membership information, household information, and all kinds of data.

In addition to that, Planning Center People allows you to create lists.

So for instance, if you want to see a list of everyone who has volunteered in the last six months, you can create a list of those people. If you want to see all the kids who are in second grade who attended VBS last year, you can create a list of those people.

The great thing about lists is that you can sync them with third-party applications like MailChimp for email or Clearstream or Text-In-Church for texting services. And then you can use those lists to communicate with those people.

Planning Center workflows allow you to take a person from where they are to where you want them to be.

So for instance, maybe you want to send someone through a new member’s class. You can create a workflow for that person, maybe you want to have a follow-up system in place for new visitors or for someone who fills out of digital connection card. You can create a workflow for those people to make sure that no one falls through the cracks.

Planning Center forms allows you to gather information about your people. So you can use forms for a digital connection card, a digital parent release form. You can also use forms for simple event registration or pot luck, sign up.

Really, the sky is the limit with forms, and the great thing about forms is that they are mobile-friendly, you can embed them on your website, they’re simple to use and they look great.

And here’s the really cool thing, when you use Planning Center forms, the information that is put into a form, is automatically synced with Planning Center People. So you no longer have to keep asking people for their address or their phone number because you can gather that information using a Planning Center form.

In addition to all that, you can use a third party application called Checkr to manage your background checks, so you can take background checks on all of your volunteers using Planning Center People.

Okay, Planning Center Calendar.

This application allows you to manage all of the rooms, all of the locations in your facilities.

So for instance, if you reserve specific rooms for meetings or for practices or for rehearsals, you can use Planning Center Calendar to manage all of that.

In addition to that, you can put all of your events in Calendar so that it’s clear about when everything is happening and who’s using what rooms and who’s in charge, etc.

So Planning Center Calendar is one of the apps that I haven’t used that much, but I’m looking forward to diving deep into Planning Center Calendar in the coming months.

Planning Center Check-ins allow you to check in your kids, students and even adults. And it also allows you to take attendance. You can even use the free Head Counts app to take a quick head count of everyone who’s in the room.

With Planning Center check-ins, you can print name badges and security badges, you can also use their free mobile app called Church Center to pre-check-in, which will create a barcode where you can quickly check in your kids just by holding your phone up to a scanner.

Planning Center check-ins is a great way to keep your kids safe so that only the people who checked in your kids can also pick up your kids.

Planning Center check-ins works on any device. You can check in right from your phone. You can also print labels wirelessly, and so much more.


Planning Center Giving

Planning Center Giving allows you to manage all of the giving in your church. Now, you might think that it’s just for online donations, but you actually can use Planning Center Giving to manage all of your giving, your check gifts and your cash gifts with Planning Center Giving.

You can encourage your people to give online in a fast and secure way. It’s mobile-friendly and works and looks great.

You can also set up Text to Give, and even Apple Pay using Planning Center Giving. You can see and send reports of giving history. You can encourage people to give through an ACH gift. You can also encourage people to cover their fee.

Planning Center Giving integrates with the Stripe giving platform, one of the leading giving platforms in the world.

And the great thing about Planning Center Giving is that they have worked to give us non-profits, one of the best rates in the country, you can find a great giving rate using Planning Center Giving.

In fact, our effective giving rate or the fee that we pay as the transactions come in, is actually less than 1% because so many people give with ACH and so many people cover their fees when they give.


Planning Center Groups

At its simplest form, Planning Center Groups is a way for you to manage all of the groups that meet on campus or off-campus.

Each group leader has control over his or her group. They can take attendance. They can use the Church Center app to communicate by text message. They can also email their group. They can schedule events. They can upload resources, and so much more.

With Planning Center Groups, you can manage more than just your Sunday School classes or your small groups. You can manage any group that meets on a regular basis.

One of the great things about Planning Center groups is the public access page. You can set up your groups to be public or private, and if they are public, a guest or a visitor can log into your Church Center account and see all of the groups that you have available and see if there’s one that’s right for them. They can contact leader and try to get connected with a group.

Now, if you don’t know about the Church Center app, hang on, I’m gonna mention that in just a minute, and while we’re taking a break, will you go ahead and hit that like button below, that would be awesome.


Planning Center Registrations

Planning Center registrations allows you to register people for events. It also allows you to communicate events that are coming up in your church. You can create a simple event that’s just an announcement.

You can also get a detailed event where you’re gathering all kinds of information like names and addresses and phone numbers, and how many kids are attending. You can also charge for specific products like t-shirts or Bible study books or summer camp fees.

We use Planning Center Registrations for all kinds of events like Trunk or Treat, or Summer Camp or Bible Studies. Or VBS.

With Planning Center Registrations, you can ask all kinds of questions. You can even do a digital release form using the Planning Center Forms feature, so that your church family doesn’t have to print off those pesky forms, sign them and then get them back to you. You can do everything digitally in Planning Center Registrations.

Did I mention you could take payments for stuff?

So using the Stripe integration, you can take payments for all kinds of things. So that once someone registers, they can put their information in, pay for the item and their registration is complete.


Planning Center Services – the flagship app.

This is the most robust app in all of the Planning Center family.

This is an incredible app to help you plan services, schedule volunteers and communicate with your teams.

You can plan a service and upload pdfs of songs. You can upload cord charts. You can upload MP3s. You can link to YouTube videos. You can use the Song Select or Praisecharts integration to automatically include all of your lead sheets and PDF cord charts, etc.

You can use Planning Center Services to schedule volunteers. So even if it’s not worship ministry – let’s say it’s kids ministry. You can schedule all of your kids ministry volunteers. You can also schedule all of your welcome team, your greeters, your first impressions team, and so much more.

Planning Center Services is a great way to communicate with your teams because they can block out the dates they’re unavailable to serve. With Planning Center Services, you can create multiple service types to keep things organized, and you can give specific permissions to only the people who need it.

For an additional fee, you can add on the Music Stand app, which will allow all of your musicians to see the charts and pdfs right on their device, you can sync those devices together and even turn the pages all at the same time.

As I said, you’ve probably heard of Planning Center Services. If you’re not using Planning Center Services, you should get started today. It is the best application you can find to help you plan worship services, keep all of your songs organized, keep your personnel organized and communicate with all your teams.


Okay, Planning Center Publishing

Planning Center Publishing is the newest application that allows you to manage the Church Center app.

The Church Center app is a free app that you can use as a part of the Planning Center family. The Church Center app is free to use, but there are some additional fees if you want to add specific features like sermon videos or sermon files.

The Church Center app is an application that works on iOS or Android, but it’s also a web-based application. So you can link from your main website to the Church Center website, which will give your church family all of the information that they need.

So within the Church Center app, you can see events from your Planning Center Registrations. You can pre-check in your kids using Planning Center Check-ins. You can give right through the app using Planning Center Giving. You can also see and manage your groups using Planning Center Groups and you can give general information about who you are as a church, such as service times, locations, addresses, phone numbers, social media profiles, and so much more. The basic Church Center app is totally free. Which is incredible.

So Planning Center Publishing is the app that you use to help you manage your Church Center account.

Planning Center Publishing also just released a brand new feature called Directory, where you can give custom access to a church directory to everyone in your church.

If you use the Calendar app, you can also link your events and all of your upcoming activities right within the Church Center app.

Okay, let’s talk about pricing for a minute. One of the great things about Planning Center is that you only pay for what you need. Some other church management softwares are all-in-one. You pay one price and you get all the features that they have to offer. With Planning Center, you only pay for what you want to use.

So if you’re only using Planning Center Services and Planning Center Giving, you only pay for those applications, each application’s price is based on how many users are using that application.

So if you’re a small church, you get all of the features of the full application for a small price. And the larger your church, the more you will pay to access the applications.

To give you an idea, we’re a church of about 350 people, and we are currently paying $226 a month for all of the applications that we’re using.

All of the apps have a free 30-day trial period. So if you want to test out the app to see if it’s right for you, you can sign up right away and get a free 30-day trial. And you can also upgrade or downgrade the apps as needed.

For instance, with Planning Center Registrations, we use registrations for VBS. We have a lot of people that come to our VBS. So I increase the limit on Planning Center registrations when it’s time for VBS. And then after VBS is over, I downgrade back to our normal plan.


Okay, you may be thinking, What does Planning Center not do?

The only major thing that Planning Center does not do is accounting, they are not an accounting software.

Now you can manage all of your giving through Planning Center Giving, but you can’t manage all of your purchases and the checks that you write and things like that.

If you’ve seen any of our other videos, you know I’m a huge fan of Planning Center. In my opinion, it is the best church management software out there, in part because it’s easy to use and they’re constantly updating their applications to make it easier and better for us, the end user.

Hey, before we go on, I want to encourage you to follow the link below and join our Planning Center Training Facebook Group. This is a brand new group that we just created – where we’re going to help other people just like you, maximize Planning Center to its fullest potential.

So follow this link or get the link in the comments and join our Planning Center Training Group today.

Okay, that’s an overview of all of the Planning Center applications and how you can use them to get better in your church.

Okay, before you leave, let’s talk about what is offered for free in Planning Center.

Planning Center People is 100% free. No matter how many people you have in your database. In my opinion, Planning Center People is worth using just for the Forms feature. Planning Center People is 100% free and will always be 100% free.

In addition to that, you can create a free account with Planning Center Check-ins and use the Head Counts app for free to take a quick attendance at all your events or services.

As I mentioned, the Church Center app is also free. Now, it integrates with the various apps, of course, you’re paying for each app, but the actual Church Center app is free, which is also a great feature.

There’s a reason over 60,000 churches use Planning Center.
There’s a reason over 60,000 churches use Planning Center.
There’s a reason over 60,000 churches use Planning Center.

It is an incredible church management solution, and so I hope you’ve seen how each of these apps work and how you can use them in your church or ministry.

Get started today with a 30-day free trial. Just follow the link in the comments to get started.

But here’s the deal, don’t try to use all of the applications at one time. Just pick one app and start using it and see how you can improve your systems and processes using Planning Center.


Hey, thanks for watching everybody, I hope you enjoyed this video.

Again, be sure to like and subscribe, like this video and subscribe to the channel. Click that little bell so you don’t miss any of the new content we produce.

I’m planning to do a deep dive into each application in the coming months, so stay tuned for that.

I’d love for you to join us on our Facebook Group: Planning Center Training. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to go to WorshipResources.church, where we help you discover and learn how to use quality resources that will make your church better.

Have a great day everybody!