[Editor’s Note: These are the opinions of Jeremy Smith alone. Please direct all comments to him below in the comment section. Thanks! -CTT]

My experience with software presentation has run the gambit from churches that live and die by PowerPoint because they do not want to take the time to learn anything else, to working directly with MediaShout developers to improve its, to finding myself today in a plethora of options for churches of any size and budget. As we are now living in a time with so many different options, many church techies find themselves excited by the possibilities while pastors or elders may be overwhelmed and if needing to trim the budget, making choices that are not necessarily to improve Sunday morning worship.

So we have taken the time to sift through all of the options out there you might consider, taking into account budgets, sizes of churches, training for volunteers and staff, ease of use, and a couple of special needs that you might encounter. What this guide is not meant to be is the final word in what your church has to use. Weight your options carefully in light of your needs.

Also note that a lot of other complexities come into play when we are talking about worship software, including CCLI licenses. None of the options address a license and so you need to be proactive of using proper channels to use sheet music. At the same time, if you use file sharing 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.

Finally, it may be easy for you to lie about details to save yourself some money and get the nice and fancy stuff. Don’t. EVER. If you have to sin as a church to get something better, you are cheating yourselves, the company, and the One whom you represent. Either be willing to fork over the money or not upgrade.

Now that the warnings have been shared, let’s look at the different options out there for churches with different budgets.

Small Churches

There are a couple of assumptions that I am making here within the budget structures. Smaller budgets I assume have not made the full investment into worship software overall and so I am being simplistic in what is available. For churches that do have larger budgets, I do not expect tens of thousands of dollars each year, but you want to get the most for what you are spending. I offer what I believe to be great products that will do what you want.

Small Budgets

  • OpenSong (Free, PC/Mac) – You are getting what you pay for here. Free means that not all of the controls are intuitive and if it breaks, you will have to wait for an update, if it ever comes. But the software does work and has several little features that no other free software has like Chord Sheets. Linux lovers will swarm this option for sure, just know that not all of your volunteers may like this model.
  • OpenLP (Free, PC/Mac) – For those that use this software, they swear by it. Why spend big money on software when you can put that money towards more spiritual ministries like feeding the homeless. My own personal experience is that OpenLP crashes more often than I care to like and should be considered an option only if you are okay with your worship experience potentially getting disrupted.
  • Harmony ($79, Mac Only) – I put this here only at request of some avid users. It is too simplistic for a program that costs as much as I pay for Office Word. And if you do not have a Mac, you might as well move on anyways. It’s here, but I’d rather you just use OpenLP  or PowerPoint if you are trying to trim your budget.
  • PowerPoint (PC/Mac) – I did not include the cost here because I assume your church already has Office for documents and so PowerPoint is already on your machines. 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.

Large Budgets

  • EasyWorship ($399, PC/Mac) – While I am personally not a fan of this software, they have one aspect that is simply undeniable. If you purchase this software, you are given $500 in free media for your church’s use. It’s all preselected, so you get what you get, but this is a good deal for a church that cannot do software and the media to go with it.
  • ProPresenter ($399 single license, PC, Mac) – This is honestly the software that I live and die by. Does not matter if it is a church of 100 or 5,000, this is what you want to strive for. There are other options to be considered, but I put all my investment personally into this platform where it is now.
  • MediaShout ($399 license  + $99 PowerPoint add-on, PC/Mac) – My past was to dive into how this software works and make our worship service thrive. What it might lack in user-friendliness, it makes up for in the pixel perfect design details. Definitely a good choice.

Medium Size Churches

We are in awkward territory here as I start to describe small budgets for medium size churches. This can range from no budget (this does actually exist, unfortunately) to budgets that rival mega churches. I am going to sit somewhere in the middle and ignore the extremes. If you want those, go up to the small size churches or down to the mega churches for those possible choices. Otherwise, these options are great choices for you.

Small Budgets

  • EasyWorship ($399, PC/Mac) – I only recommend this again because of the freebies that come with it. But if you are doing this, you should consider
  • ProPresenter ($399 single license, PC, Mac) – As I said before, this is still my default option and highly recommend it.
  • MediaShout ($399 license  + $99 PowerPoint add-on, PC/Mac) – Still a good choice.

Large Budgets

  • 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 Rates, 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 site 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.

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Mega Churches

It is assumed at this point that you are putting the needs of your worship experience up front. If you do not have a healthy budget for your worship team, you are doing a different kind of church service than I can speak into. I do not say this flippantly either, as I know many churches that would be put into the mega church status that have small amounts compared to the amount of money they invest in elsewhere. But because of the size of your church, you will need to put the necessary money into your software that is appropriate.

Large Budgets

  • Planning Center Online (Varying Monthly Rates, PC/Mac/iOS) – I refer to this one again because it is worth it. But note that because you are with a larger church, your budget is still going to have to be large because the monthly cost goes up. I also anticipate you will buy some of their other features too that go up in cost as church size rises.
  • ProPresenter ($399, $799 site license, PC, Mac) – Some mega churches only do one sanctuary, others have multiple. Make sure you do the right license for the right use case.
  • Proclaim (Varying Monthly Rates, 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.

Other Software Options

Here are the other software options that might be available but I could not ethically recommend them as I believe there are better options out there for you. They are not inherently bad options, but maybe the cost is too high, other software options provide more, or they simply cannot fit in the structure we have created above.

  • SongShowPlus.com (PC Only) – They try to get around the site licensing fee by charging for individual projection fees, yet hurt many smaller churches that use more than one projector in a single sanctuary.
  • Easyslides.com (PC) – I have been frustrated by its limited use and functionality that I spent too long figuring out how to use it and moving on to a different option all together.
  • Prezi.com (PC/Mac) – While the cost of this presentation is small compared to everything else out there, it is a fad at best and extremely cumbersome to create and use. I discourage anyone that is solely relying on this program to use in churches every week.
  • PresentationManager (PC Only) – For the cost of the software, I would expect a MUCH better quality product. I have only seen use of it in churches who were wanting to switch away from it and it really is not a good product for churches at the price they offer.

So where does your church lie? Are you spending too much for something your church needs? Do you need to upgrade? Are there alternatives that are worth mentioning that I missed?