When I first started worship planning, more than a few years ago, I used a few lined sheets of paper from a notebook, scribbling down ideas and scratching them out, doodling in the margins when the songs just wouldn’t come. Later on, I graduated to a spreadsheet, then a helpful but cumbersome commercial worship planning program in its early stages. Later, I spent hours inputting worship notes and ideas into the tiniest of notepad programs on my Palm Pilot. Scribbling and scratching on notebook paper probably would have been more effective than the clunky Palm pilot. And then for awhile, I just typed up lists in Microsoft word on my laptop. But I’ve come a long way since then, and now I rarely use my laptop for anything but a few reruns or kids shows on Hulu. I do most of my work on my iPad. The best worship planning app I’ve found so far isn’t really a worship planning app at all. It’s Evernote. Evernote is a flexible organizational tool that enables you to create documents comprised of text, media, and web clips, and then group those documents together into notebooks, and then share these documents with whomever you might choose.
With one app, you can create checkable to-do lists, planning lists, and meeting notes. You can have a notebook for your work, a notebook for personal information, a notebook for hobbies. You can use it for text documents, you can insert pictures right from the app, create recordings, and snip web pages for later reminders. There is a chat feature you can use with other Evernote users, alarms, and the ability to sync between your mobile device and your home or work computer.
I like to plan ahead, both with general ideas and more specific plans. My Evernote app has 17 notebooks, including worship planning, rehearsal planning, sermons to write and sermons I have listened to, song ideas, blog ideas, sermon illustrations, and a household notebook. In my household notebook, I have a to-do list, meal plan, list of important events that are coming up soon, and a note book of ideas that I love. This keeps everything organized, easy to find, and right at my fingertips for whenever I need it.
I have a lot of notes in my worship-planning notebook; I create a note for each month. For example, when its time to plan the worship music for Advent, I will create a note and title it December 2015. I list the Sunday dates, themes, Scripture verses, and any other pertinent dates or events. As I look for and pray about the worship music, and research Christmas hymns and songs, I can fill in the worship music titles that best fit each week, rearranging them as needed as if they were puzzle pieces. I also list any special music or liturgical activities that might accompany those songs. I can add in any notes that I need regarding special practices, new songs being added, or what hymnbook a song came from. This helps me to plan ahead and I don’t have to find myself thinking, gee the song we sang l last week would have been even better for this week. I can copy and paste this info right into my rehearsal notebook so that I am easily prepared for the rehearsal time.
In my church notebook, I have a to-do list for church related tasks, such as phone calls to return or people to talk to. I also keep a song idea note. Whenever I hear a great new worship song, or a congregation member shares a song that has been moving in their lives, I can quickly and easily jot the information down in my phone or iPad, take a picture to remember it, or even add a quick web link. This gives me time to think about a song that someone might request. They know that I’m taking them seriously because I’ve made myself a note to look into their idea, and I don’t have to worry about being put on the spot to make a decision about a song is unfamiliar to me. This also gives me pause to think about whether or not a song meets our worship music criteria and gives me more opportunity to respond graciously to the person who shared their ideas.
I also like to keep a running list of items that need attention in my church notebook. This way, I’m not forgetting important things that I might need to make the pastor aware of, such as a personnel issue that I am trying to work out with someone, budgeting problems, or scheduling conflicts that might occur. If I am brainstorming ideas with other staff, I can share a particular note with those on staff and they can add their ideas as well.
A few other helpful features of Evernote include the ability to set reminder alarms for important items. I can also keep a notebook for my musicians, giving me a spot to keep track of their birthdays, family members, and even life events. I especially love to keep a prayer list in Evernote, which I keep filed under my personal notebook. This way, if anyone sends me a prayer request, I can copy and paste it right to my list or quickly input it so I don’t forget. I can set an alarm to send a follow-up email or phone call after a few days, to ask how the person is doing and remind them that I am continuing to pray for them.
Evernote is a flexible tool with many features, which works across platforms, to keep you and me and all our files organized and easy to retrieve. It is my go-to app for any kind of list, memo, ideas, and planning. Have you tried Evernote? How do you use this organizational app?
Amanda Furbeck is a toddler-chasing, coffee drinking, fashion boot-wearing, Fit-bit addicted, Jesus-loving, wife and mom to 6 small children. She spends her free time absorbed in fashion and tattoos, watching Pirates of the Caribbean, Googling, attempting clean eating, all while spreading autism awareness, encouraging adoption and foster care, championing the underdog, and of course, juicing. Amanda serves the local church as a licensed American Baptist pastor, worship leader, free-lance writer. She holds a Master of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, a Bachelor of Arts in Church Music from Eastern University, and a cosmetology license from Metro Beauty Academy. Her favorite places to be are the local zoo, the church piano bench, Facebook, and anywhere her family is.