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The blog has been quiet for a while, but Swerv has not. There have been many changes and upgrades going on behind the scenes. So I wanted to take a moment to update you. We’ll look at a few of the features that have been added. And I hope to provide these notes more often.

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Swerv starts with a few simple goals. I want to share those with you in this post to help you understand where it is going. Hopefully they are not only the goals of Swerv, but also the goals of your church.

It should also serve as a form of public accountability. As new features are considered and added they will be weighed against these goals. Hopefully you will find that with each update and change we get closer and closer to them.

1. Provide consistency

Trying to track songs in one Excel/Numbers/Google Spreadsheet, service info in another, CCLI usage in yet another, and musicians on a separate calendar is bound to have problems. There are too many points of failure and inevitably we make mistakes. The distractions that come from the mistakes we make are a disservice to our congregations. The disrupted flow, the unprepared people — these things add up and grab our attention instead of helping us to focus on Christ. Swerv aims to remove failure points by centralizing everything and taking care of the details for you.

No more forgetting to add something in every appropriate file — add it once and it’s saved everywhere it needs to be. When a song is added to a service, its usage is recorded for CCLI records, its notes from past reviews are readily available, and all the musicians involved in the service can clearly see what to expect. When a musician is added to a service no one needs to go and update calendars, it’s all handled automatically.

2. Get more out of reviews

If your church doesn’t currently have a formal review process, I would encourage you to start (we’ll have more posts on that in the future). Reviews are supposed to help us grow and make changes where necessary. However, they are often recorded in yet another document or on loose sheets of paper that are not easily recalled when looking back on past services. This makes it easy for important comments to get lost and changes that should take place never happen. Swerv aims to provide a unified review process where reviews can effect the changes they are meant to.

Swerv makes all service data available to you during a review. And because all the information is already in one location you can easily add notes directly to songs or other items to serve as reminders for future use. You can never misplace a review either because they are directly attached to services.

3. Greater transparency

The planning that we do for our services is not only useful for those directly involved in leading and preaching. It also serves to prepare our congregations to come together to worship God. When everyone knows what to expect in upcoming services they can pray more effectively for the preaching of God’s word and the gathering of his people. They can also read and study more effectively and prepare themselves to listen to the preaching of God’s word. It enables them to learn new songs before a service. Swerv aims to make it easier to provide details of upcoming services with your congregations.

Through an API Swerv allows you to integrate your service planning into your church’s website automatically. You will be able to publish details of upcoming services and series as soon as you have entered them in Swerv. Swerv will also make it easy to generate playlists of all songs used in a service to make it easier to share new songs with your congregation.

4. Reduce administrative time

Not all of our churches can afford to have administrators on staff. And those that can often have more work for them than they can accomplish. Compiling CCLI reports, emailing reminders, and updating service information on other sites could all be automated. It adds unnecessary strain to our administrators — or deacons, or whatever volunteer it falls to. Swerv aims to automate common tasks so that people can use their time more effectively.

Since Swerv already tracks all of your service data, CCLI reports can be compiled in seconds just by entering a date. Email reminders will be automatically generated and sent to people involved in upcoming services so they are ready for practice, or leading, or whatever their role is. And as mentioned above, the API will enable easy integration into your church’s website.

5. Refine our services

When we come together to worship, our focus should be on Christ. Anything that inhibits that is dross. I don’t intend for us to view services as a performance on a stage where each laser flash should be perfectly timed to the music and the sermon is exactly twenty minutes long. But I do want our churches to grow in how we glorify the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Swerv’s ultimate aim is to aid our churches in the worship of God — through better planning, through more effective reviews, through better communication, and through effective use of our time.

A little bit louder...

How do you determine the optimal volume for the sound system during a service? If the answer were merely technical then we could quickly talk about average dB values and give you the ideal number and move on. But any answer of that variety would be playing into the consumerism that drives the culture around us and regularly tries to creep into the church. Because it would assume that the primary thing that people have come to church for is to be entertained. The answer is far less technical than it may seem. Determining appropriate sound levels actually requires taking a step back from the soundboard and considering what the church is actually doing. So first, let’s ask those questions and let them help us think through this topic in a way that is more helpful to the church.

What is the church actually doing?

Hopefully the answer to this one is clear. When we gather together it is to worship God. Unfortunately in the past few decades we have sometimes muddied the definition of worship by calling music leaders “worship leaders” or referring to the musicians as a “worship team.” But worship is far more than just the music. We worship God not just with music, but with prayers, with giving, and with faithfully preaching His word.

That means we don’t just turn the sound system up until church services are indistinguishable from concerts. If the church’s objective in a service is to worship, then the congregation has come to sing, and pray, and give, and listen. Not to consume.

What are the people behind the microphones doing?

I know, I know, the people behind the microphones are part of the church. So we did already answer this above. But let’s take a moment to consider the more specialized role of the members of your congregation that are behind a microphone during a service.

The preacher, leaders, and musicians are aiding in worship when they are in front of the congregation. They are not entertainers. The preacher is facilitating worship by focusing on God’s word and sharing the truth found in it. People lead the congregation before the throne of God in prayer. The musicians help us worship through song together as a unified body. In every one of these things the congregation is still an active – if sometimes silent – participant.

What is the soundboard doing?

Well, the soundboard and all the equipment that goes with it are gifts of modern technology to aid in what we’ve been talking about. If the volume is so loud during singing that the congregation looks like it’s taking part in a mass lip-syncing competition it’s probably too loud. Conversely, if it’s so quiet that the congregation gently mumbles the words of the song for fear of being heard above the musicians, it’s too quiet. Similarly, if it’s too quiet to hear the sermon or for people to comfortably say “Amen” to what was just prayed, then it’s too quiet and people aren’t actually praying with the person leading in prayer.

We want people to be encouraged to participate in all aspects of a service. And the soundboard can help encourage that or it can discourage it. By attentively listening to the congregation (especially in singing), we can appropriately use it as an instrument to aid the congregation. We want to use it to embolden the congregation to sing loudly without overpowering them.

I’m really excited to release our new sermon player. And that’s not just a screenshot of it above. That’s really a sermon up there that’s been embedded in this blog post. So now if you’re hosting your sermons with Swerv you can use our handy little sermon player on your website to make sharing your sermons even easier.

You can embed a single service, or an entire series of sermons. When you embed a series the player will update itself automatically when you upload new sermons. So you only need to add it to your site once and then we’ll take care of the rest. And we have plans to roll it out to all sermons in your church along with some other bonuses when you host your sermons on Swerv. It’s light on bandwidth which is nicer for people visiting your website on mobile devices and it’s fast.

The embed codes are available on your services and series in Swerv right now. For more details on it check out our documentation.

Haven't used Swerv yet?

Get organized!

Swerv helps churches plan their services from one centralized location. It can keep track of your church’s song library and liturgies as well as generate CCLI reports for you. Swerv can also ease your review process since all the information is already in one place.

Recent Posts ( Archives)
  1. Are corporate readings necessary?
  2. Prayer of Invocation
  3. How loud is too loud?
  4. Why You Should Be Doing Service Reviews
  5. Sermon Player

Haven't used Swerv yet?

Get organized!

Swerv helps churches plan their services from one centralized location. It can keep track of your church’s song library and liturgies as well as generate CCLI reports for you. Swerv can also ease your review process since all the information is already in one place.