By choosing “Scheduler Settings…” from the Schedule menu, you may access a dialog that contains a number of settings that affect the behavior of the scheduling engine.

General Settings

Service Preferences

By default, the auto-scheduler attempts to schedule each volunteer for his or her service preferences in the order they appear in the volunteer’s preference list. However, by selecting the second setting in this dialog instead, you can specify that the auto-scheduler ignore the order of each volunteer’s service preferences. If you turn this option on, any services that are declared as preferences are given more priority than those that are not declared as preferences, but there is no distinction made between the priorities of each declared preference.

Serving Frequency

The second set of settings in this dialog determines whether or not the auto-scheduler will exceed preferred serving frequencies that have been set in the format “x times per week/month/year” when there is no other alternative available to fill up the empty positions in a schedule. If you leave this option at its default setting of never exceeding these frequencies, then the scheduler will leave the empty positions in the final schedule for you to decide how to fill. Otherwise it will fill them with the volunteers who have had the least number of services given to them in the past. You may also specify using the controls in this set that the auto-scheduler always leave a specified number of days between the services of each volunteer. This can be helpful if you have many more positions to fill than available volunteers, but don’t want the scheduler to overschedule them.


The third set of settings in this dialog determines how MSP schedules families. By default, families are split up whenever some volunteers need to be scheduled more often than their family members in order to distribute services as fairly as possible amongst all volunteers. However, you can also choose to never schedule a family for any service without all of its members present by clicking the appropriate checkbox. But note that depending on your church’s services and volunteers, selecting this option may result in some volunteers being scheduled far less often than they should be because their family members cannot serve with them. You may alternatively turn on this setting only for particular families by choosing the appropriate setting in the Edit Family dialog (from the Family Groupings pane), or only for particular ministries by choosing the appropriate option in the Edit Ministry dialog (in the Ministries pane).

Special Services

The fourth setting in this dialog controls who may be scheduled for “special” services. (This setting is referred to in other parts of this documentation as the ‘explicit special service scheduling’ setting.) A special service is 1). a yearly service, or 2). a one-time-only service that has been added to the open Schedule by clicking the “New Service…” button. By default, the scheduling engine will fill special services with volunteers who are available to serve at that time. However, if you would like to allow only certain volunteers to be scheduled for special services, then click the option titled:

Schedule only volunteers for a special service who have the service (or “[Any special service]”)
explicitly declared as one of their service time preferences.

With this option turned on, no volunteers will be scheduled for a yearly service unless that specific yearly service or “[Any special service]” is selected as one of the volunteer’s service preferences. Volunteers who don’t have “[Any special service]” specified as one of their service preferences will NOT be scheduled for a one-time-only service. By adding these preferences to your volunteers’ profiles as appropriate, you can control which volunteers may and may not be scheduled for yearly and one-time-only services.

Historical Data

By clicking on the Historical Data tab on the left hand side of the Scheduler Settings dialog, you’ll see two buttons that allow you to “Clear historical scheduling data…” kept by the scheduling engine for either one volunteer or for all volunteers.

Historical data is the record the auto-scheduler uses to look at past times your volutneers have served. This historical data is used to make sure that over time your volunteers are scheduled approximately the same number of times. It has no effect on any reports and will not remove any of your volunteers from past schedules.

You may want to clear the historical data if you recognize that certain volutneers (especially those who have served frequently in the past) are not getting scheduled very often, or if you notice some volunteers (especially brand new ones) are being scheduled too much.

You may not want to clear historical data if you have done it recently or if you are relying on that past data to keep volunteers from being scheduled too close to a past scheduled date.

If you are not sure if you should clear historical data or not, you can submit your data files (Help – Send Data Files to Tech Support) and tell us why you think you may need for them to be cleared. Please include the names of specific volunteers and the jobs that you are concerned about. We can then take a look at you and let you know if clearing the data will be helpful for that situation or not, and also recommend any settings that will help you achieve your goals in scheduling.