IntroPCO

For over 10 years we have used a church management system program called Church Community Builder (CCB).  However, beginning in June 2020 we will begin using Planning Center Online (PCO).  Making a this kind of change like this is obviously no small task, so why the switch?  In short, Planning Center offers greater functionality and customization over what we’ve been using, and a we think a much more modern, user-friendly interface.  PCO has all of the same basic functionality for you and your group.  There are a few differences, but the additional features will be more helpful to you everyone using it.

One significant difference is the Church Center app, where every person at PV has greater control over their information and participation.  Click here to download for iPhone  |  Android

Below, you will find video tutorial on the most essential features of PCO and below that, written step-by-step instructions for the features most group leaders may need to know about.

PCOIntro_play1

[ Tutorial begins at 3:15 ]

How to access/create an account

  • Go to planningcenter.com in a web browser
  • Click the “Sign In” button in upper right corner
  • If you have a login email and password, enter it
  • If you do not yet have a login, click the “Need a Password?” link immediately below the Login button.
    • Enter primary email or phone number
    • If matches info in database, you will be sent a registration code
    • Use that code to create log in credentials

How to find your group

  • PCO uses a series of “apps” or modules, one of which is Groups
  • After logging in, use the drop-down menu in the upper left corner to access the app/module you want
  • Default display will be “My Groups” – all groups you are leader or member of
  • Click on the group you want to select
  • Menu on the left side allows you to access different functions of the group
    • Members:  view members and their contact info
    • Events:  set group meetings on the calendar and later record attendance
    • Resources:  share a document or resource with the group (could be prayer requests, meeting notes, study materials, etc.)
    • Settings:  edit basic settings of the group.  
      • Name: please don’t change, as we use standardizing naming convention.  If you use another group name internally, you can note that in the “group description” section below.
      • Meeting Schedule:  How often, when you meet (Day and time)
        • Display meeting schedule publicly?  (Optional) One of the features PCO offers that CCB did not is the ability for have groups that are open and actively seeking new people to be listed and searchable by individuals looking to join a group.  More on that in a minute, but this is helpful info to display publicly if your group is “open” and you want your group to be searchable.
        • Make sure you click green “save” button after making any changes in this field
      • Image:  (optional) upload a cover image for your group
      • Location:  (optional) If your group rotates meeting locations, this may be helpful.  If your group meets on campus at the church, just select the preset “PV Building.”  If you want to be more specific about your location, you can list that in the group description.
      • Event Reminders:  (optional)  will send an email reminder 3 days before your event and ask for an RSVP.  Can be helpful if you’re needing an approximate headcount, but probably not necessary on a regular basis.
      • Group Page Settings
        • Group contact:  default is Josh’s email.  However, if you’re group is going to be listed as “open” you will want to put in the email of the person who should be contacted directly when someone inquires about your group.
        • Leader Display:  If selected, the first names of the leaders in this group will be displayed on the public page. This does not affect the Contact Person of the group. If one of your leaders should be listed as the Contact Person, you will need to put their email address in that field as well. This setting will only toggle displaying the names of the group leaders.
        • Group Description:  You can include information describing your group.  This is most helpful if your group will be listed as “open.”
      • Group Messaging:  This is a brand new optional feature that if selected, allows your group to communicate through Group Messaging in the Church Center App. It is a centralized place for group leaders and members to post discussion topics, bring up prayer requests, talk about upcoming events, or to simply stay connected.
        • Have the option of allowing all group members to communicate or just the leader(s)
    • Reports
      • Overview: Offers high-level look at the makeup and attendance patterns of your group.
      • Attendance:  Offers more granular look at individual attendance history.  Helpful in seeing trends or if there’s someone who has been missing.  Reports are customizable and printable.

How to create an event and record attendance

  • Create an event

    • Login to your PCO account 
      • Go to planningcenter.com in a web browser
      • click on “Sign in” button in the upper right corner
    • Select the Groups app/module in the upper left corner
    • Click on the group in question
    • Click on Events tab on the left column menu
    • On the calendar, click on the date of the event
    • Click on the green “Create new event” button to the bottom, right
    • Enter event details. 
      • If it’s a recurring meeting, you must put an end date less than two years out from the date of the first occurrence.  For weekly recurring meetings, it’s encouraged to set the date for just under two years out.  This can be adjusted later, if needed.
      • When finished, click the green “Create event” button in the bottom right corner.
  • Record Attendance

    [ Click here for video explanation ]

    Once an event has been created (see above), there are basically three ways to complete attendance, depending on your preference.

    • Option 1: Using Smartphone App (easiest way)

      • Download and install the Church Center app for iOS or Android.  Login using the same credentials (see above section: “How to access/create an account”). Once installed and you’ve logged in at least once, the app becomes the default for many PCO links, such as completing attendance.
      • Anyone designated “leader” in the group will receive an attendance reminder email 10 minutes prior to the event start time.
      • When you receive the attendance reminder email and you’re ready to complete attendance, click the “Take Attendance” button in the email which will open the Church Center app.  Once you log into the Church Center app (using either pin or biometric login), you will be taken to the event attendance page.
      • Simply check off the names of those who attended, then click the blue “submit” button at the top.
      • Note:  One change from CCB is that PCO attendance reporting does not have additional fields like Meeting Topic, Notes, Prayer Requests.  So, if there is pertinent information you would like to share with Josh, after completing the attendance report, just reply to the attendance reminder email with that information and those emails will come directly to me.  If you’d like to share prayer requests with the group, see “How to communicate with your group.”
      • If the group did not meet, DON’T click the “take attendance” button in the email. Instead, use the instructions below for completing attendance “Manually through the PCO website.”
    • Option 2. From Computer or Smartphone without the app

      • Anyone designated “leader” in the group will receive an attendance reminder email 10 minutes prior to the event start time.
      • When you receive the attendance reminder email and you’re ready to complete attendance, click the “Take Attendance” button in the email which will redirect you to a web browser.  You will be asked to request a verification code by entering your phone number or email address.  (If the code doesn’t arrive immediately, just be patient.)
      • Enter the 6-digit verification code you received either by text or email, and you will be taken to the event attendance page.
      • Simply check off the names of those who attended, then click the blue/green “submit” button at the top.
    • Option 3: Manually through the PCO website

      • Instead of using the link in the attendance reminder email, at any time you can manually complete or edit any event for you group.
      • Login to your PCO account
        • Go to planningcenter.com in a web browser
        • click on “Log in” button in the upper right corner
      • Select the Groups app/module in the upper left corner
      • Click on the group you are completing attendance for (all groups you are a member of will be listed)
      • Click on Events tab on the left column menu
      • Below the calendar that is displayed to the right, a list of all events during that date range will be displayed.  (You can adjust the calendar dates accordingly in order to display the desired event.)  “Status” column will display whether or not attendance has been recorded for each event.  If not, click the “Take Attendance” button.  (This option is only displayed for current and past events, not future events.)
      • After clicking the “Take Attendance” button, simply check off the names of those who attended, then click the green “submit” button at the top right.
        – You can sort by either first name, last name, or role (member/leader) by clicking the small arrow next to each of those column headers.
        – You can also add a visitor or new group member using the search box toward the bottom, before submitting.

How to communicate with your group

There are four primary ways to communicate with your group through PCO:

  • Email some or all of the group  [ Click here for instructions with images ]
    • Login to your PCO account 
      • Go to planningcenter.com in a web browser
      • click on “Sign in” button in the upper right corner
    • Select the Groups app/module in the upper left corner
    • Click on your group
    • Click on “Members” in the left column menu
    • Right above the listing of all members are three icons: email, print, export list.  Click on the email icon.
    • A new window will appear where you can type and send an email to the entire group.
  • Send a message to some or all of the group through the Church Center app.
    Note:  In order to use this feature, it must be enabled under the Group Settings menu.

    • Download and install the Church Center app for iOS or Android.  Once installed and you’ve logged in at least once, the app becomes the default for many PCO links.
    • Open the Church Center app on your phone and login to your account
    • Select “Groups” from the bottom men.
    • Click on your group.
    • Select “Messages” from the upper menu (right under the Group Name)
    • Click the “+New” button in the middle of the page.  
    • Compose your message and click “Send” in the upper right corner.
    • All messages will be available for viewing by group members in the Church Center app.
  • Send an Email Reminder about a Scheduled Event
  • Share a Resource
    This is a great way to make something available to the entire group to access. These resources are only accessible to group members who have logged in and access them through your group page (this is a feature that will likely be improved for greater accessibility in the future).
    This feature is helpful for sharing a document listing prayer requests, a document with meeting or study notes, images, or other kinds of resources you want associated with your group and to be easily accessible in one place.
    There is only one way to share (online through planningcenter.com ), but all resources can be accessed either online or through the Church Center app.
      • Share a resource 
        • Login to your PCO account 
        • Select the Groups app/module in the upper left corner
        • Click on your group
        • Click on “Resources” in the left column menu
        • Click the green “Add a group resource” button.  
        • You can upload an image or document from your computer, or share a URL link.
        • Resources can be visible to everyone or to members only.
      • Access a resource online
        • Login to your PCO account 
        • Select the Groups app/module in the upper left corner
        • Click on your group
        • Click on “Resources” in the left column menu
        • All resources will be listed individually.
      • Access a resource through the Church Center app
        • Download and install the Church Center app for iOS or Android.  Once installed and you’ve logged in at least once, the app becomes the default for many PCO links.
        • Open the Church Center app on your phone and login to your account.  
        • Select “Groups” from the bottom menu.
        • Click on your group.
        • Select “Resources” from the upper menu (right under the Group Name)
        • All resources will be listed individually.