There are many software options available to make sure Sunday morning is a success. While most of us have a soft spot in our hearts for PowerPoint, it is far from the best option for churches for a number of reasons. With various other software applications used by church techs such as Planning Center Online, Google products, and other church software solutions related to management and workflow, there’s a wide world of worship software options that can find a place in any church budget – from small to mega.
We’ve sifted through many of the options out there, taking into account budgets, sizes of churches, training for volunteers and staff, ease of use, and a few special needs that you might encounter. This is not a comprehensive guide, but a helpful article that presents some of the best options out there for churches to use. As with all technology, taking time to weigh all your options and prayerfully consider what will best work for your team and your church is important.
Also note that a lot of other complexities come into play when we are talking about worship software, including CCLI licenses. None of the worship software options address licensing and so you will need to be proactive to make sure you’re using song licenses for charts, lead sheets, and lyrics in your bulletin or on the screen correctly. At the same time, if you use worship planning software like Planning Center Online, know that you are not legally allows to share music with other people unless they own the music as well. This can get your church into very hot water fast, so do not play fast and loose with these rules.
Lastly, be careful about borrowing software that you do not own the rights to. Just because your cousin works at a church in a different town does not mean you can borrow his software licence. Be forthright with your staff, save for what you need, and always do the right thing to best represent the Lord whom we all serve.
Now let’s look at the different options out there for churches with different budgets:
Smaller church often have smaller budget. They might not have made a large investment into worship software, and might still be using PowerPoint. There are some really wonderful open source solutions available that far exceed what was ever possible in the past. Being a small church with a tighter budget is less of a challenge now than it used to be for sure.
- OpenSong (Free, PC/Mac) – OpenSong is a free, open-source software application created to manage lyrics, chords, lead sheets, overheads, computer projection, and more. OpenSong releases are available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. Many languages are available as well thanks to their amazing community. This software has several little features that no other free software has like Chord Sheets. Linux lovers will swarm this option for sure.
- OpenLP (Free, PC/Mac) – OpenLP is a free, open-source software application that many users swear by. With a long feature list including display management, screen management, service management, alerts, song features, Bible plugin, images and more, users will not be disappointed.
- PowerPoint ($4.50 user/month, PC/Mac) – If you already have Office on your computer you have PowerPoint already. If not, you can opt in to the nonprofit version of all Office programs for a low monthly rate. This should not be the final goal of worship software as it is not designed for worship, but instead designed for classrooms and business presentations.
- ShareFaith Presenter ($17/month, PC Only) – For existing ShareFaith media members, this presentation software is free for churches. Instead of creating yet another presentation software, ShareFaith decided to re-invent PowerPoint through a powerful worship software plugin. Sharefaith Presenter lets you add text over any video, build custom countdown timers, access the largest worship lyric database, create your own custom worship set and directly insert over 60,000 worship media and videos straight from Sharefaith. You can also directly add Scripture from the built-in NLT and ESV database.
- EasyWorship ($499, PC/Mac) – Now with a full Presentation Designer, with EasyWorship you can customize fonts and themes, loop slides, and run spell check. Other features like NewTek TriCaster integration and Alpha Channel support make EasyWorship 6 a great solution for HD broadcast environments. The software has a recently redesigned interface that still offers quick, intuitive access to Bibles, worship lyrics, and background videos.
- ProPresenter ($399 single license, PC/Mac) – ProPresenter is a cross-platform (Mac and Windows) lyric and media presentation package built specifically to make high-quality live productions easy – including worship gatherings, sporting events, conferences, or studio broadcasts. Highly stable with robust features, this is a great solution.
- MediaShout ($379-399 single license, PC/Mac) – MediaShout is a feature-rich option with multiple levels of software to meet the needs of medium to mega churches. It offers integrated song libraries, CCLI sync, PCO sync, Quicktime support, and many more features. Site wide licenses are available for churches with multiple computers running the software.
Medium to Large-Sized Churches
It’s hard to pin down what size church has what sized budget. There, I’ve said it. There are great options at every price point. Just because you may have a larger budget, this doesn’t mean you must spend more on your software. Preference, user-interface, intuitiveness, and design can make or break a church tech’s relationship with his or her worship software.
- EasyWorship ($499, PC/Mac) – Good option, simple, straightforward design.
- ProPresenter ($399 single license, PC/Mac) – Comes very recommended by many worship leaders.
- MediaShout ($379-399 single license, PC/Mac) – Another great choice.
- Planning Center Online (Varying Monthly Rates, PC/Mac/iOS) – This software does things differently. Long term, this option may actually cost more than any of the other options available. But it also gives you something that none of the others can, Projector and Music Stand (though know that these also are each an extra monthly fee). People that have bought into this simply cannot go back.
- Proclaim (Varying Monthly and Annual Rates based on church size, PC/Mac) – For churches with pastors that love the Logos Bible Software, you probably already know about Proclaim. It easily integrates and is well worth your time to consider as a companion software to Logos.
- ProPresenter ($799 campus license, PC/Mac) – This price changes when you begin to look at churches with multiple sites. This would include if you simply stream your service but use the software to stream. Yet, I still highly recommend it.
It is assumed at this point that you are putting the needs of your worship experience up front. Having a healthy-sized budget is vitally important when you reach this size and level of church.
- Planning Center Online (Varying Monthly Rates, PC/Mac/iOS) – Note that monthly cost of this software option increases based on the size of your church, you might also want to incorporate some of their newer features that provide a smooth user-experience.
- ProPresenter ($399 single license, $799 site license, PC, Mac) – Some mega churches only have services in one sanctuary, others have multiple. Make sure you have the appropriate license for the right use case.
- Proclaim (Varying Monthly Rates based on church size, PC/Mac) – For churches with pastors that love the Logos Bible Software, you probably already know about Proclaim. It easily integrates and is well worth your time to consider as a companion software to Logos.
Additional Software Options
Here are a few additional options that we don’t necessarily recommend as the best choices, but they’re out there and worth reviewing if you’re going to do a comprehensive search for church presentation software:
- SongShowPlus.com ($199-$549 depending on needs, PC Only) – Communication, editing, live-video options, content features, and PCO integration.
- Prezi.com ($4.92-$13.25/month, PC/Mac) – Somewhat of a fad, this site is cumbersome and somewhat hard to use. It is fun for the occasional youth group night or special event.
- PresentationManager ($200-$375, PC Only) – A lower-end product with design and user-interface that could use some upgrades, this product is an option, but only for the smaller church.
So how is your church doing with its presentation needs? Are you considering switching to another option?
[updated October 2015]