December 18, 2014

Choosing the Right Worship Software

You might be ready to start using a worship software package that will allow you a greater deal of flexibility over PowerPoint.  There are a variety of software packages available, but the important question is how do you decide which one will best fit your church’s needs?

Easy Worship is one of the most commonly used software packages.  It provides both the King James and American Standard version.  This will allow you to chose scripture on the fly.  It features an easy to use interface, supports dual video outputs, and has a whole host of transitions to chose from.  It also allows for use of live video.

Another common software package used is Song Show Plus.  It has an even more extended feature-set.  This software also allows for dual monitors, video, and had a database of over 6,000 songs.  While simple, it offers more video control over Easy Worship.  Both packages allow you to overlay text over graphics and video.  This is an especially cool feature if you are looking to put either the words of a sermon or the words of a song over a special background, photos, or a video.  I have seen special videos used under lyrics during Easter and Christmas celebrations, and they can certainly enhance the service.

A third commonly used package is Presentation Manager.  While I have heard of this software being used less than the first two, this particular package is especially well-suited to smaller churches.  If you are a church on a tight budget, simply looking for a PowerPoint replacement, without many of the bells and whistles, this could be a good choice.  It provides a flexible format, with an easy-to-use interface.   Many of these church presentation software packages are available to try on a free trial basis.  I would suggest trying several of them before purchasing, just to make sure it is exactly what you are looking for.

Media Shout is also a great option and used by many churches. I also found a fairly comprehensive list of worship software companies listed here. If you’ve used one of these software packages at your church and can post a comment about your experiences to help others in a similar search here, we’d love to hear from you!

Jeffrey Miranda is President of NeoLogic Sound, a commercial audio integration firm based in Los Angeles.  He has over a decade of experience involved in audio, lighting, and video for worship.

About the author  ⁄ Jeffrey Miranda

28 Comments

  • Reply
    Lee
    February 11, 2011

    Thanks for doing this- really helpful for many people and or responding to the question
    Much appreciated!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011

    In my consulting, I’ve found that there are 3 main worship programs being used in most churches today.

    Propresenter seems to be the industry leader and what most larger chuches and conferences are using (http://www.renewedvision.com) They have traditionally been mac-only, but have recently come out with a windows version. Their feature set is extensive, and they seem to have a lot of momentum as a company right now.

    Easyworship is widely used as well because of it’s simplicity. It just works, and the training required is very minimal.

    Mediashout has lost a little ground, but is still a good program. They continue to add features and have recently added a mac version. They gained a reputation for having software that was buggy, but they seem to have that behind them with the current release.

    I have not seen songshow used in several years and I haven’t heard of presentation manager before this article. I’ll have to check into it. Also Proclaim is a newcomer that is about to release and looks promising. http://proclaimonline.com/

    Thanks for the article

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter
      February 14, 2011

      Hi Mike, Thanks so much for your feedback! I’m sure CTT readers will find it very helpful. Thanks for your two cents!!

      Blessings, Lauren

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter
      February 14, 2011

      From @erikmichael on Twitter: “Not including ProPresenter is a pretty big #fail”

      Sorry, Erik! We did our best to include some of the major players. If you use ProPresenter (http://propresenter.com/), would be be willing to write up a quick comment on what you like about it and how it works well for your church?

      Thanks!!
      Lauren

      • Reply
        February 26, 2011

        Sorry for the #fail.. that wasn’t very nice.

        It appears Mike (above) threw out ProPresenter as a solution in addition to the others here.
        I have used Media Shout, Song Show Plus (back in the day when it was terrible, so I can’t comment on its current software), and EasyWorship. I have always suggested that PC users go with Easyworship. It was exactly like they named it.. Easy, and powerful.
        Now that Renewed Vision has released a PC version of ProPresenter, I no longer suggest Easyworship solely, but rather to try out both ProP and EW.

        For Mac users, or churches that don’t have a mac, but might have the budget for it, I always will suggest ProPresenter on a Mac, for many reasons.
        You probably want the computer you are running lyrics, videos, and etc from to be pretty stable. For the most part, Macs are stable. (If you want the most foolproof way to have your Mac be completely stable, have that machine only have one purpose – ProPresenter, and nothing else. No web surfing, facebooking, downloading of anything.. Keep it clean, and you’ve got a better chance of a solid machine. Really, that goes for a PC too.)
        ProPresenter has all the basic features every other software does, and does them very well, but then has some extras.. It can use modules (that do cost extra) like the keying module or edge blending module.
        The keying module (Mac only) allows you to install a Blackmagic Decklink card and then you can key your output over another video signal in a professional way. (Think lyrics over live video.)
        The Edge Blending module (I believe Mac only) is pretty new and rocking! It allows you to take three projectors and blend them together, showing one output from ProPresenter. You can make one giant wide screen from it – with no other software required. Hardware to do edge blending is far more expensive than propresenter – so that module is so worth it.

        ProPresenter has many other features that make it stand out from the crowd. If you’re interested, you can download a free demo from renewedvision.com for Mac or PC.

        For any church looking into presentation software, give all the ones listed on this blog post a spin, I believe most give you free demos to try them out.

        • Reply
          Lauren Hunter
          February 28, 2011

          Thanks for your informative comment, Erik. I appreciate you explaining your logic behind your comments and explicating why you use what you use. I know our readers will be well-informed by reading your comment. Thanks again, and no hard feelings about the #fail. Please feel free to shoot me any comments or suggestions for current or future posts – I’m very open to feedback! In Christ, Lauren

        • Reply
          mkmcgregor
          June 4, 2012

          Macs as stable? I’m curious as to what Apple hardware that we run at our church then. We have a new setup; less than 6 months old with Pros and a Mini 10.6.8. We have a standing rule; restart every Mac the morning before service. Typically it’s the software on the Mac that is the issue; of course that is true of Windows as well. I run my Windows development machine for days to weeks without a reboot; but that is a different workload. I will restart some software, but the machien stays up. I like ProPresenter, but it’s buggy in almost everything it does. I’m also not a big fan of the stock Apple mouse; difficult to use for mult-select drag/drop in ProP (Ok maybe for my hands). It obviously gets you through a day of services, but it can and has failed; much better if we reboot or atleast restart the software frequently. These machines are not over-taxed. They are running ProPresenter or PVP and that’s it. 2Gb memory and decent video. DMX support in PVP is poor to not usable. I’ve been a software developer for 25 years, so I’m not talking completely out of hat. Again, I agree that it’s one of the best around on features, and we are looking to 5.0 of ProPresenter as hopefully more stable and some nice new features; e.g. slide by slide transition timings. All in all thanks for the info and links. I always like to hear others opions and thoughts.

          • Mkmcgregor
            June 4, 2012

            I will add that the latest 4.x version of ProPresenter is more stable and has provided less issues.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2011

    Sorry for omitting some other common software packages. These were simply packages I have noticed are being used often. All churches are not the same in size, use of technology, so many of my customers (or people I know at other churches) may only be using certain software packages, and others that in other areas of the country might be more prevalent.

    Thanks,
    Jeffre

  • Reply
    Raoul Snyman
    February 18, 2011

    Hi, you also haven’t included some of the free options out there. Our church uses OpenLP, an open source presentation app, and there’s also Lyricue and OpenSong, both fairly large and comprehensive themselves.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011

    I used OpenSong while I was running the projector at my last church. The biggest limitation was the lack of modern Bible translations but apart from that it worked really well.
    Once the transition effect was disabled it was also undemanding on the hardware front and ran on a fairly elderly laptop
    Tim

  • Reply
    Chris Lai
    June 18, 2011

    Churches on a budget could also try the FREE software named EasySlides (www.EasySlides.com). It is ABSOLUTELY FREE, and it is capable of dual screen projection, and also duo-language projection. It was written by a Chinese for the Chinese Churches, but the built-in library of hymns is decent, and creating new ones are quite simple.

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter
      June 18, 2011

      Thanks for suggesting this solution, Chris! I will check it out!

      Best,
      Lauren

  • Reply
    Pastoreric
    June 13, 2012

    We have switched our Mac’s to Harmony – it has worked great. Very simple, clean, little training needed, no bells and whistles it just works well.

    http://sweeterrhythm.com/harmony/

    • Reply
      June 15, 2012

      Thanks for your comment! I will check out Harmony. Thanks for letting me know about this solution.

      Blessings,
      Lauren

  • Reply
    Nate
    August 25, 2012

    I have to agree the omission of propresenter is odd. I know most if the large churches use them as does the catalyst conference and passion.

    I also read they were just used by every venue at the Olympics. Pretty cool.

  • Reply
    Paul
    August 28, 2012

    I really appreciate the article. I do have one question for a particular group. Our church is using mediashout (just fine) and our new pastor mentioned that his last church was using Live Worship and that it worked well. He did not imply it was better, and he is not one to rock the boat. We are looking at upgrading to MS 4.5 soon so I was wondering if anyone out there has used both and has a technical recommendation (church of 2400, multi venue, 3 screen projection. Thanks

  • Reply
    Pam
    October 2, 2012

    We have used Live Worship and are currently using EasyWorship. We found Easy Worship a much better software as we are running videos, DVD clips which EasyWorship does great, powerpoint and songs.
    However, we have been having some problems with the computer freezing up and have just discovered that our graphic cards are an issue with EasyWorship. Because we are using a laptop the graphic cards are attached with other components and can’t be changed. We are thinking of switching to MAC & EW doesn’t support that. We are looking at other software and that is what brought me here.

    Pam

  • Reply
    Greg
    November 16, 2012

    Yes, I do work for the company, but I would like to humbly submit ProPresenter as a great option for worship software

    http://www.RenewedVision.com

    its cross platform, under active development, features iOS apps, is used by 89 of the 100 largest churches in America, and was recently voted the Readers’ Choice in Worship Leader Magazine with 71% of the vote.

  • Reply
    Roman
    February 22, 2013

    I have a small church and dont really have the money for even easy worship though it looks great! Any suggestions of something that will do moving video in the background for worship. This is all I need.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2013

      Hi Roman, you might check out OpenLP free worship software. Here’s the link: http://openlp.org/

      Let me know if it works out for you!

    • Reply
      John
      November 3, 2014

      Hi, Roman.
      Before I retired, I pastored several small churches that also didn’t have the money for projection programs. In the majority, we simply used PowerPoint or EasySlides. I now serve in the video booth of a larger church (typically 200+ on a Sunday morning), and we use EasyWorship. I pray you are successful in your endeavors.
      I wanted to comment on your desire to use moving video in the background. If you mean to show words over the video, my suggestion is: Don’t. Before I started using a projector, I took a couple of AV courses in the hopes that I might avoid looking dumb due to simple mistakes (sigh – I failed). One thing I did learn, however, was not to use moving video behind the words; it seems the human eye has a tendency to follow the movement, making the experience less than perfect for the congregation. In fact, every instructor I had said the same thing (and experience has also taught me this): it is best to simply project the words onto a blank screen (don’t forget the copyright). In my other life as a minister, I also had a clown ministry for a time. While clowning, I learned that the basic colors for a clown are white, black, and red – they show up better than other colors when viewed from a distance. In the AV courses, I was taught: white words on a black screen; the human eye handles this combination the best.
      When I started in the video booth at this church, they were projecting black on white (which seems logical, right?). I changed us over to white on black, and the immediate response from the congregation was positive.

  • Reply
    victor
    July 21, 2013

    I love your article. you mentioned a number of s/wares which are so useful. but i think your article is rather too shallow for a person shopping for a good software. have you personally tried the s/wares? what was your experience? you didnt mension which one is for free and which one is not. some unique features and advantages over the rest. thanks for your efforts.

  • Reply
    Vivian
    August 3, 2013

    I am looking for a suitable software for our young church. All your comments are really helpful ,God bless you all.

  • Reply
    Schawn McLeod
    November 10, 2013

    We use Mediashout4.5 at our church and it is more difficult to use than older versions. We are going to finding something else to use in the near future.

  • Reply
    Connie Barkatali
    May 12, 2014

    I am looking for some free or fairly inexpensive presentation software for my very small church. I have used PowerPoint for years before attending another Church that used easy worship. I loved everything that could be done in easyworship and loved how easy it was to learn and integrate into our worship. Are any of the available free software’s close in comparison to EasyWorship? Ive been playing with Easy-slides but i cant; quite get the hang of it. I was able figure out how to import our songs but getting videos to play and the fact that there are only 3 bible versions-2 of which we would never use-is a major downfall.

    Your suggestions and feedback would be extremely helpful, as forking out hundreds of dollars for software is not really an option for us at this point.

    Thank you!

    • Reply
      May 14, 2014

      Hi Connie, I posed the question about inexpensive worship presentation software on Twitter and one reader said that http://www.easyslides.com/ is what he uses. I haven’t looked into it in-depth, but it looks like something worth checking out. Let me know what you think!

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