If you use a couple of Planning Center products, but you're ready to try out Planning Center as your Church Management software, you're in the right place!
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Locate Your Planning Center Account
Some churches start using Planning Center by using one product, like Services for scheduling or Check-Ins for taking attendance. If you or your church already uses Planning Center for another product, follow these steps to begin using it as your Church Management Software.
- Log in to the Planning Center account.
- Ask the current Organization Administrator to make you an Organization Administrator, so you have access to all Planning Center products.
If you're not sure who the Organization Administrator is, or you are no longer in contact with that person, reach out to our Support Team to gain access to your account.
- Verify the information in Accounts is current and complete. Follow the steps in this Setting Up guide to make sure you've covered all pieces.
There is no way to merge Planning Center accounts. If your church already has a Planning Center account, don't create another one.
If you're unsure that your church is using a Planning Center account, these tips will help you find out.
- Ask your team.
- Your finance team will see Planning Center charges if your church is subscribed.
- Your worship team might schedule team members or use the Song library.
- Go to the Sign Up page and put in your church name and your email address.
If your church uses Planning Center, you'll see a notification asking you to not make an account.
- Reset your password on the Planning Center login page, using your personal and work email addresses.
- Contact Support.
For your church's security, Support may not be able to give you extensive information; however, they can point you in the direction of finding your account.
Identify the Products You Already Use
Planning Center is a full Church Management Software with an integrated suite of products designed to help you keep track of all of your church’s information from your computer or mobile device. You may not use all of the products yet.
Before you add products, make sure you're familiar with the products you already have. Visit each section in order to verify what you know about each product.
Once you're logged in, you can use the product switcher to switch between products that you're subscribed to.
People is the hub of your Planning Center database. Any information you need on an individual is in their profile, and People holds all the profiles.
What should I do in People?
Once you've done those things, here are some things you'll use People for on a regular basis:
Giving takes the longest for your congregation to adopt, so we recommend you set it up first.
Giving keeps all donation information, from cash and check to online donations. Anything that has to do with tax-related donations is tracked in Giving.
What should I do in Giving?
When you first subscribe to Giving, you'll be walked through steps to set it up.
- Add other Administrators, who will receive a guide based on their permission. Not all Organization Administrators have access to Giving; any Administrator has to be added manually.
- Create funds for people to designate their donations.
- Share Church Center with your congregation, so people can begin giving online.
Encouraging your church members to use a new giving platform can be daunting. Here are some tips to make that process a bit smoother:
- Give advance notice in multiple forms: email, text, social media, live announcements.
- Make the transition process easy to understand.
- Make yourself available to answer any questions and give assistance.
Church Center integrates with Planning Center products to enable your church members to manage their profile information, donations, events they've registered for, and groups they attend or lead. They can also view a church calendar or directory and fill out forms.
Church Center is not a separate product. It's set up in Accounts and is included with the cost of your product subscriptions, so it's available at no extra cost to you! For more information on Church Center, check out this Getting Started article.
Many of your congregants will be checking in to attend a service. The best way to populate your database is to ask them to check themselves in, which allows you to track specific and general attendance.
What should I do in Check-Ins?
When you first subscribe to Check-Ins, you'll be walked through adding your first event.
If you already use a check-in system, we recommend a slow rollout for your church. Choose one month to run both systems simultaneously, and ask people to check into both systems only on the week that corresponds with their last name. Here's a format we've seen that works:
Week 1: A-F
Week 2: G-M
Week 3: N-R
Week 4: S-Z
Try to split the families as close to even as possible, and by the end of the month, you're ready to use Check-Ins on its own!
This system works well for most church sizes, but if you need help thinking through the rollout, reach out to our Support Team!
Services helps you schedule people and maintain an order of any service.
What if someone has already set up Services in our account?
Services is our oldest product, the one that started Planning Center! Many churches have used Services for their worship teams long before the church knew Planning Center was a Church Management Software.
If your church has been using Services, talk to the current Administrator to get familiar with how things are set up, and then follow the steps below.
What should I do in Services?
- Create a service type for your main service, and add your first plan.
If the service type already exists, you can manage new teams from the service type settings.
- Create teams and positions.
If the teams and positions already exist, talk to the team leader before making too many changes in order to keep any appropriate history.
- Add songs or media to use in your plans.
- Add team members to the account, and they will receive a guide based on their permission.
By now, your church is probably using Planning Center regularly. Now it's time to add Publishing!
Publishing is "home base" for your congregants. You can use Publishing to manage and customize Church Center where your congregants can access their contact information, donations, events, and much more.
Calendar shows your church-wide events and events taking place at your church. Your congregation can view them on Church Center.
What should I do in Calendar?
Because classes and groups are connected through community, make sure your congregation is familiar with Church Center before you enable Groups.
Groups creates a place for people to gather, virtually or physically, and connect with each other.
What should I do in Groups?
The last step is a seasonal one. As you need people to register for events, you can use Registrations, which helps you gather information about people attending the events your church hosts.
What should I do in Registrations?
Create milestones that will show your church is using Planning Center the way you want to use it. Add deadlines to push milestones along and give you a reason to celebrate.
Here are a few milestone ideas:
- All Staff have completed profiles
- % of photos have been added to profiles
- % of profiles have an email address
- % of profiles have a phone number
Depending on the products you've chosen to use, you could use these milestones as well:
- % of people gave online or through text
- % of people downloaded the Church Center app
- All attendance is being taken in Check-Ins
- First group leader to add their events
- First event scheduled in Resources
- First completed workflow
- First order of service and scheduled people finalized in Services
- First donor statement to be sent only through Giving
When you develop your milestones, make sure you think through the steps needed to get to those milestones and assign the actions to specific people.
We have plenty of help available to assist you along the way.
- For step-by-step instructions on setting up and using each product, access our help articles from the Support Site or from the ? in the upper right corner in any product.
- When you start diving into a product and want more in-depth training on how to use it, check out Planning Center University, which has videos on best practices for each product.
- If you have any questions that can’t be answered in our docs or videos, feel free to contact our friendly Support Team. They are happy to help!