Planning Center Integration

How the PCO integration works, what information can be synced, how are duplicates and opt-outs handled, and what are sync frequencies?

Randalin Ward avatar
Written by Randalin Ward
Updated over a week ago

If you utilize Planning Center (PCO) as a church management system, using the integration with Text In Church is a great way to keep your contacts, data, and messaging organized and up to date! 🙌 In this article, we'll cover the basics of how the integration works and common FAQs before taking the initial steps to set up the integration. Let's dive in! 🤓

Overview

The integration is with Planning Center People's "List" feature and the Planning Center Groups feature. This allows you to create Lists and Groups in PCO and then select them to sync into Text In Church. You can choose to create new syncing groups in Text In Church, or connect them to existing groups. From here you can add Keyword, Connect Cards, and Automated Workflows to this Text In Church syncing Group to gather new contacts and follow up with ease.

When contacts are added to this List or Group in PCO, they will then be synced into the matching group in Text In Church.

🌟 Important note 🌟

PCO Lists are built off of rules (i.e. Collect any records created in the past 14 days that have membership type of "Member") Contacts added to this syncing group will also be synced back to Planning Center People. However, you may need to then make manual adjustments to the record in PCO to ensure that it fits the Rule for this PCO List. Otherwise, if they do not meet the rule for the PCO List, they will be removed from the matching TIC Group upon completion of the next sync.

FAQs

What information is required for a contact to be synced from PCO into Text In Church?

  • Text In Church can sync in the first and last name, mobile phone number, and email address of records to and from PCO. In order for a record to be synced into Text In Church, they must at minimum have a valid email or mobile phone number marked as "Primary" on their PCO record.

How are duplicates handled?

  • Within Text In Church, email addresses and phone numbers cannot be shared between contacts. This would result in duplicate messaging which can easily lead to your emails and texts being filtered as spam. If two contacts sharing the same information are attempted to sync into Text In Church, only one will be synced and the other will be designated as a duplicate. 💡 Learn more about sync failures here!

  • If a contact is created in Text In Church and the data matches an existing contact in PCO, when the record syncs back to PCO, the records will be matched up and prevents duplicates from being created in your PCO account.

How are opted-out or inactive records handled?

  • At any time, your people can reply with STOP to opt-out of text messaging. This opt-out will only be reflected in Text In Church and will not affect their record in PCO. 👉 More about opting out here...

  • If a record is marked as inactive in PCO, the record will not be synced into Text In Church

How are Child records handled?

  • If a record in PCO is designated with the "child" status, it can not be synced into Text In Church.

  • You'll want to make sure your PCO Lists that are selected to sync into Text In Church only contact the actual adult contacts you want to communicate with. It is not recommended to sync an "everybody" group that could possibly contain child records since you wouldn't be communicating with the child but their parents instead. This would result in the child records being flagged as sync failures inside the Text In Church Group. Learn how to text Youth students if their records are marked as "Child" in PCO here!

Where should I edit or delete records?

  • PCO will function as the master database in the integration. This means that if you need to edit a person's name or contact information or delete their record, you'll need to make this change on the PCO side. The changes will then be synced into Text In Church.

  • If the change is made on the Text In Church side when the sync completes the change will be reverted so that the record matches whatever PCO has on file for this specific record.

How often can I sync my groups?

  • At any time, you can start a manual sync which will be completed as soon as possible (depending upon how many other accounts are syncing at the same time, and how much data is currently in the queue).

  • You can set each of your synced groups to sync on their own schedule, either nightly, weekly on a specific night, or monthly on a specific night.

Planning Center Integration Set-Up Guide

1. Create Lists or Groups in Planning Center

2. Ensure that the desired Lists and Groups are visible to All PCO Admin

  • If a list or group is not visible to all PCO Admin inside PCO, then the list will not be able to be selected to sync into Text In Church

  • In the settings of the List, ensure that it is Visible to All PCO Admin and that they have at least a "View Only" Status.

3. Enable the Integration in Text In Church

  • Sign in to your Text In Church account

  • Click on Settings (Gear Icon). Click on "Integrations"

  • Click on the "Connect" button by the Planning Center integration

  • Click the blue "Connect Planning Center" button

  • This will direct you to the Planning Center login page. Here, enter your credentials used to sign in to Planning Center, then choose "Log In"

  • You'll need to click "Allow" to enable the Integration between PCO and Text In Church

    • The page will refresh and return back to the Text In Church page where you can continue the set-up process

4. Select Lists and Groups to Sync into Text In Church

  • Within this page, click the "2. Select Lists" tab. Here you'll be able to search for and select PCO Lists and Groups to sync into Text In Church

  • Click the left checkbox by the name to select this List or Group

    • These will then be created as new, syncing groups within the "Groups" section of your Text In Church account.

  • Select the frequency you would like this specific List to sync, either nightly, weekly, or monthly.

    • When the sync occurs, the list will be refreshed in PCO first.

  • Set Sync Destination:

    • From the dropdown menu, select the destination for the sync.

    • You can choose from the list of existing, non-syncing Text In Church groups to connect to

    • Alternatively, you can select "Create New Group" to generate a new syncing Text In Church group, which will be automatically connected.

  • Once you've selected all the needed PCO Lists, click the "Next" button to move to the "3. Sync" tab

5. Running the First Sync

  • Toggle on the "I have received permission" so that you'll be able to send text/email to your synced people.

  • Toggle on the "Enable automatic sync" so that the integration will sync automatically as determined by each group's set sync frequency.

  • Click "Schedule Sync" to begin your first sync.

  • If you have a large number of people to sync, this first sync could take a few hours to complete. You can close Text In Church or continue using any other part of the application while the sync is running in the background. When completed, the synced groups within the "Groups" section of Text In Church will be populated to match their connected PCO List or Group.

  • The "Last Synced" section will display the time and date of when the last sync of the integration was completed.

Next Steps: Using the PCO Integration

General Syncing Groups

The PCO Lists and Groups that you've selected should now be auto-generated as new, Syncing Groups in your Text In Church "Groups" Section. These groups will be designated with a 🔁 icon and the description designating where the group originated from.

Just like a non-syncing Group in Text In Church, you can set up Keywords, Connect Cards, and Automated Workflow for your Syncing Groups. Check out the guides below on how to set up and use each feature if needed:

After the first sync has been completed on your account, these Syncing Groups should now be populated with members. Additionally, if you were to add any people to this Syncing Group in Text In Church, they will be synced back to PCO People.

Note if you are using a Planning Center List: You may need to make manual adjustments to their record in PCO to ensure they meet the "Rule" for this list. Otherwise, they will be removed from the Text In Church group when the next sync is completed. ...More about what information can be synced and how duplicates are handled in the article here!

You may see that some contacts were not synced into the Group as you were expecting. In this case, you'll want to open this Group in Text In Church, then review the "Sync Failures" tab for specific information about why these contacts could not be synced. ...More about troubleshooting sync failures in the article here!

First Time Guest Follow-Up With PCO Integration

As we've talked about, the way the integration with Planning Center works is that PCO is the master holder of contact details. Upon sync, any selected List or Group from PCO will then push to into the new Syncing Group in Text In Church. Let's talk about how the integration works specifically for first-time guest follow-up. 💡

  1. Create your List or Group in PCO and complete the initial set-up for the PCO Integration, and select your guest follow-up List or Group to sync from PCO into Text In Church

    1. If you don't have an existing list or group in PCO, go ahead and create one now.

  2. Once you've selected this guest follow-up group to sync into Text In Church, decide if you want to connect it to an existing Text In Church Group, or Create a New Group.

  3. Next, you can enable the Keyword, Automated Reply, and Connect Card for this Syncing Group so that people can text in to receive the Connect Card and be automatically added to this group.

  4. Finally, you'll want to set up your Automated Workflow. There are 3 ways you can do this:

After that is set up, anytime someone texts in the Keyword you've assigned to that Group and/or fills out the Connect Card, they will be created as a person record in Text In Church. When the next sync completes, they will be synced into PCO. If they are new to PCO, a record will be created for them. If they match an existing record in PCO no duplicates will be created 🤩

If you add any PCO records to this List or Group in PCO, they will be synced into this Syncing Group in Text In Church; the Automated Workflow messages will then begin sending to them when they are synced into the Text In Church Group.

⚠️ Important note if you are using a Planning Center List instead of a Group: You may need to manually adjust their record in PCO to meet the "Rule" for this list. Otherwise, they will be removed from the group in Text In Church with the completion of the next sync

Connecting with your Youth using the PCO Integration

When utilizing Text In Church’s integration with Planning Center, it's important to note that we do not bring over any record that is marked as a "Child" on the Planning Center side. In most instances, a child record isn’t necessary to communicate with instead of the parent of the household. Additionally, we don’t ever want texts accidentally being sent to children without parental consent, so we’ve found it to be best practice to simply not house them as contacts in our system.

However, there are instances, like a youth group record, where being able to communicate with someone under the age of 18 via text message is appropriate and permitted. To bring them over to Text In Church, you need to remove the child status in PCO. This still keeps them within the same household in Planning Center, and then they will automatically sync as individual people records within Text In Church.

However, if you do not wish to remove the "Child" status, it's super simple to utilize your Text In Church account to connect with any youth records that will not sync with the Planning Center integration. You have two options:

Option 1: Group Member Import

If you already have an established List inside of Planning Center that is up to date with all of the youth phone numbers (and you know they are the teenager's number and not the parent) then the fastest option is to do an export of that List into a CSV file. This is just a few clicks and the list will be exported and ready to import into TIC.

The columns you want to include are First Name, Last Name, Email, & Mobile Phone Number.

Under Settings in TIC, you can import the list with a few more clicks, and the whole process is done in under 10 minutes! This will be a non-syncing group, so you'll want to update it once a quarter or if you notice a big influx of new youth members. When you do subsequent imports, it will match by email and mobile phone and only add new members from the newly exported list.

Option 2: Use a Keyword for New Group

If you don't want to do the quick export/import process or your records are a mix of youth and parent mobile phone numbers, you can set up a new Group inside of Text In Church that has the Keyword YOUTH. Then when members text in you can ask them to fill out the Connect Card and get their updated data on file and then message as desired inside of Text In Church.

Un-Syncing a Group and Disconnecting the PCO Integration

We totally understand that there may come a time when you need to remove a Syncing Group or disconnect the PCO integration from Text In Church entirely. Here are some common questions Members ask before deciding to remove a group or disconnect the integration:

What happens to People records synced from PCO if I remove or disconnect the integration?

  • The records will not be deleted from Text In Church. They will remain in your Text In Church People section, and the designation that they were created via PCO Integration will remain on their profile.

What happens to Groups synced from PCO if I remove or disconnect the integration?

  • The Group will now be designated as Non-Syncing and the description will still indicate that this group originated from PCO. It will not be deleted. Instead, it will function just like your other groups in Text In Church. The members, Keywords, Workflow, etc., will not be impacted by this change.

  • Because PCO is treated as the Master database, if you need to fully delete a group, you'll need to do this first in PCO. Then you can delete the group from Text In Church and it won't be automatically re-created upon the next sync.

How to Un-sync a Group

  1. Sign in to Text In Church, then select the Settings icon

  2. Select Account Settings and then Integrations

  3. Click View by the PCO Integration

  4. Within the "2. Select Lists" tab, click the left checkbox by the List you'd like to un-sync to unselect this List.

How to Disconnect the Integration

  1. Sign in to Text In Church, then select the Settings icon

  2. Select Account Settings and then Integrations

  3. Click View by the PCO Integration

  4. Within the "1. Connect" tab, click the "Disconnect" button and confirm your selection

This will prevent data from syncing between PCO and Text In Church. Data will not be deleted from Text In Church because of this change.

The previously Synced Groups in Text In Church will now be designated as Non-Syncing and the description will still indicate that this group originated from PCO. It will not be deleted. Instead, it will function just like your other groups in Text In Church. The members, Keywords, Workflow, etc., will not be impacted by this change.

Still have questions about the PCO Integration? No worries! Feel free to reach out to our Member Support team at support@textinchurch.com We're always happy to help!


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