Planning Center Online and the iPad

I had intended to swing by an Apple store today and check out the usefulness of an iPad with a tool we use every week in worship. But one of the guys who works with me went ahead and bought one, and volunteered to let us test it out over the weekend.

First, allow me to drool over the iPad. I want a 3G model, but wow, I don’t want to wait. Fast, heavier than I expected. I wanted to go sync it to my apps and content and play, but it wasn’t mine, so I didn’t.

OK, we use Planning Center Online for worship service planning and execution. It is great. The music team puts the plan into the site, and we can access it, add to or modify the entries as needed. You can see a to-the-second plan for the flow for a service. Those of us involved in multiple services each week know that a pre-planned service (still allowing for the Holy Spirit to move, of course.) is critical. I am a firm believer that the Holy Spirit can move Monday through Friday just as easily as minutes before a service.

Every week we prepare production documents so that the dozens of people we use to execute the services can see what is planned. We used to create these in Excel, but Planning Center allows us to print off a very similar document without extra work. So every week the latest versions of the services are printed on Friday. Every week there is at least one change to one of the three services we have. Some weeks, we have multiple changes. With printed flows, that means we either write notes, or reprint. Many of us have taken to following planning center on our computers, if we are in a place where we can. Now, even if there is a change during the service, it can be updated and those online can immediately see the new flow.

But one position needs up to date information more than any, and it’s not in a place that can really carry a computer around inconspicuously. We have a stage manager that sits with the pastor, and others who will be a part of the service. It is critical that they be able to see what is coming next, and know that it is accurate. We have tried the iPhone app, but the level of detail available on that sized screen leaves a lot to be desired.

Over the weekend we utilized the iPad to monitor Planning Center from that position. We found that we liked the actual website more than the iPad app. We could not run the flash-based “live” function, obviously, but having access to dynamic changes we a big help. Plus, we attached a word doc of the lyrics and sermon notes to the flow online, and then were able to open another “page” that the stage manager could switch between. They were able to follow both documents on the iPad with relative ease. And the size of the iPad was not obtrusive. It was even in a leather case, which made it look like a Bible.

I have heard that Planning Center Online is working on another way to view the “live” function that will work on an iPad. That will be an added bonus.

I see the church purchasing a wifi model very soon.