A question we’ve heard many church and lay leaders ask is, “How can we use today’s technology to better facilitate our Sunday services?” Or, “What can we do with media to enhance a sermon or help attendees engage in worship?”
Engagement in the modern church, while certainly driven by the pastor’s speaking and the worship team, can also be encouraged with visual-aids on the screen for the message points, scripture, and lyrics. Our culture relies on visual support for many things in our lives and our attention increases when powerful and complementary images, words, and sounds are utilized together. These are all elements that many churches deliver diligently each week. One of the key factors in implementing these elements is choosing the right worship presentation software to help enhance the message and help the congregation engage during worship.
There is a wide variety of worship software available. In fact, from our research, we have found over 50 different church-focused presentation software platforms. Some of these are cutting edge, while many are outdated and not designed for the latest operating systems. However, most of the regularly updated software packages are very innovative. Some deliver new tools and benefits not seen before in presentation software for churches.
In narrowing down viable, modern choices, let’s start with some basics. First, is the church presentation software affordable? It’s not uncommon to be attracted by the lowest price, only to find out that much of what you need is only available as paid add-ons. Your low-cost software can turn into a complicated, pricey endeavor before you realize what’s happened! So when considering price, take into account the entire picture. Will you have to pay extra to have all of the Bible versions you need? Is it going to cost you more money to include all of the computers you need to activate? Is paying monthly more expensive than a one-time cost? Count the cost – the whole true cost. (Check out our “Worship Software and Bibles They Include” blog where we go into detail on bible version fees across the different worship presentation software products.)
The second factor is stability. More important than bells and whistles is the overall performance of your software option. The best choice will run well and will not be complicated to troubleshoot with issues while you’re presenting live for your congregation.
The next point is usability. The main reason for investing in this kind of worship software is to make life easier on all who are involved in your media ministry—from those building the presentation to the possibly non-technical users and volunteers who will be running the presentation. This means your software should be designed specifically for church use and should be easy to get familiar with. Check to see if your software offers substantial training materials like written guides or videos and webinars. Without these, you’ll likely miss out on a huge number of features that can enhance your services and greatly reduce your preparation time.
Taking into account the above three factors can help you find the best church presentation software for your needs. Not every church presentation software is made equal and no one software is perfect for all churches. Once you do find the right option, there remains one last piece to consider. Sooner or later, you’re going to need some help or want to ask a question, share an experience, or simply get an opinion on the best way to do something. Therefore, the availability of a support team and a community of users, available via e-mail, phone, social media, etc. is paramount—especially support that’s available during your actual service times. (See the Plus Membership from MediaShout!) Having that helping hand and human factor can make a big difference. So double-check to be sure this is included with your presentation software package.
You might be asking yourself why you can’t just use Powerpoint or some other ordinary presentation software. To answer that, we’d say you need to understand that church presentation software differs dramatically from ordinary presentation software. Church presentation software is built specifically for church needs, and that’s where the benefits come in.
A good worship software package will access CCLI’s large database of songs through their SongSelect program and pull them directly into slides. It will include many versions of the Bible (that are easy to insert into your presentation) and some of them (i.e. MediaShout) will even show two different versions of the Bible at the same time. This kind of software program will help you easily build a presentation (checkout Sermon Builder), put video motion backgrounds behind lyrics and more. In other words, it incorporates just about anything you might need in a church service at the highest level while staying easy to use.
To gain all the benefits from modern church projection software, you need extensive media and support options, a powerful control interface, and of course, ease of use for training and usability. With software being at the heart of how your media is designed and presented, it’s definitely not something to skimp on. Fortunately, there are good open source options besides PowerPoint to use, if you can’t afford one of the more powerful options. Here are some of them.
Thanks to this app’s integration with VLC, it is possible to put lyrics, images, Bible verses and videos on slides. Furthermore, it allows you to play music in the background (though it can’t do this for videos). It also offers a simple remote control function which allows you to manage your presentation from any place. It is available on many different OS’s including Mac, Linux, Windows, and FreeBSD.
FreeWorship has numerous advantages. It makes it possible to import lyrics from different sources such as CCLI, OpenSong, OpenLP, and many others. In case that you have switched from different software, it is possible to relocate your already existing database of songs without much difficulty. It also supports many image formats and imports Zefania and OpenSong Bibles. Similar to OpenLP, it integrates with VLC. However, FreeWorship is only for Windows.
OpenSong is one of the easiest-to-use free software packages. It meets the most basic software demands, though it does lack many of the more useful characteristics of the other leading church presentation software options. Its strong point is worship lyrics management, as it imports songs from CCLI as well as displays chord charts. Also, it's possible to set an image as a background to a Bible verse. It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
EasySlides (formerly Easislides) contains fitted lyrics databases in multiple languages. The variety of languages makes this a popular application. You’ll be challenged, however, if you’re moving to this software from another presentation software. It will not allow you to relocate any existing database of songs from your old software to this one without a lot of painful steps (and an understanding of coding). There is also a limited amount of Bible versions and no ability to import versions from other sources. But the media possibilities are impressive. For example, it will play video and audio files with live backgrounds and even simultaneously project lyrics in two different languages. Its HTML generator also allows you to publish lyrics. EasySlides is available only on Windows.
A wide range of import possibilities is presented in this free software. You can easily import any existing worship materials from different software. A large selection of Bible translations is also available. Plus, the option of adding videos and images as slide backgrounds will definitely make your presentation more lively. It has a multilingual interface and offers some great test patterns (which are very useful in ensuring that the screen is situated in the right position). Quelea is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Other Free Options
There are other free options available including WorshipExtreme, VideoPsalm, Praisenter, and many more.
Although there are plenty of free church presentation software possibilities to make worship more engaging and visualized, it is not a secret that paid software opens you up to more creative and feature-filled tools. Let us have a look at the best options to choose from:
MediaShout 7 is a completely redesigned and redeveloped version of this legendary software. MediaShout Version 1 was the pioneer of all church presentation software back in 2000 and is still innovating with new features and improvements with each version. MediaShout 7 has flexible Powerpoint style editing, effortless video and audio playback, full customization of text and object layers, and newly designed plug-ins to customize your presentation and workspace functions. It connects with CCLI SongSelect (a separate subscription service) and a user-managed song library, along with up to 70 Bible translations as part of the license. MediaShout also offers world-class tech support and training options from their team of church presentation experts (free and paid options are available). It is available for Windows only for $399 for a single computer/46 public domain Bible license or $499 for a site license (unlimited computers) and 70 copyright and public domain Bibles. MediaShout 6 is currently available for Mac users.
This system does not require an upfront purchase, but rather an ongoing subscription. With the subscription, multiple accounts can be created and the software can be installed on multiple computers. One benefit of Proclaim is its integration with Logos Bible software. It does have some design limitations for slide creation, so it may limit your creative options. In case you have any problems you can consult their support or video training. This software is available for Windows and Mac (cost varies based on church size and features).
Like MediaShout, EasyWorship 7 is an updated and simplified software package. Such basics as slide design, a wide search of the Bible translations, and media are presented in this redesigned version. It allows for the integration of video, songs, and Bible verses and you can control your presentation. Some users may need to adjust to the interface as it’s quite different than many other familiar applications. Additionally, some of the more advanced design elements found in MediaShout and other programs aren’t found here. Purchases can be through either an annual subscription (encouraged to receive support options) or a one-time fee. It is available only on Windows.
ProPresenter 7 is one of the most robust editing and playback tools of any of the presentation software options out there. It can be simple to operate for most churches but takes more advanced users to set things up. It provides plenty of articles and video guides and has a strong user group. However, it is also one of the most expensive, as copyright Bibles are purchased one by one for $15 and on a per-computer basis. Many of the more advanced tools also have additional add-on costs. The base program is available for Windows and Mac at the price of $399 for a single license or $999 for a church campus license, plus the price of whatever copyrighted Bibles you need.
With ProPresenter 7, you get a year of support and software updates for free. After that year is up there is a yearly cost to continue getting support, bug fixes, software updates, and improvements. That cost is $159 per computer or $399 per campus license. If this membership expires for longer than 12 months following the first anniversary of purchase, it will require the purchase of an entirely new license according to ProPresenters website.
As you can see, there are plenty of options out there for worship software. Investment in the best modern presentation software for your church will allow you to quickly create and display lyrics, images, videos, Scripture verses, and sermon notes. It will allow for fast, easy editing while you’re putting it all together, and a control interface that ANYONE can run for your services with very little training. Is it worth it? We think so!