Reposted with Permission from WorshipFilms.com
Many churches around the country are recognizing the limitations of Microsoft Powerpoint® in a worship setting, and are seeking other solutions. There are a number of good church presentation software packages available, and it is a significant decision because your choice will impact your worship service in a tangible way for years to come. Here are some key factors to consider before you make your final purchase:
1. Flexibility. The ability to make changes to a service schedule quickly is critical, particularly in a contemporary worship environment. Can you access songs and scriptures ‘on the fly’? Can you make an edit while an image is being projected, so that you can correct typos, etc.? Can you change backgrounds in the middle of a song?
2. Background Options. It is essential to have a variety of options available for background images. Does the software allow for text over video? Does it accept Flash files? Does it allow for a live camera feed as a source on which you can overlay text?
3. Control Screen Interface. Most presentation software packages (including Powerpoint® now) can utilize a dual monitor approach, meaning that your computer screen acts as one monitor and shows the control interface, while the projector acts as the second monitor and shows only the image you wish to project. How easy is it to navigate the software’s control screen (and to teach others to do so)? Is the interface intuitive, or are some elements difficult to locate? How quickly can you make changes?
4. Access to Scriptures. Many pastors want to be able to read from multiple translations of the Bible, and want the key verses projected. How does the software access scriptures? How many different translations of the Bible are included in the purchase price? Are additional versions available? What about foreign language versions (if you have that need)?
5. Text Editor. Most churches that utilize presentation software project sermon notes during the service. Does the software have a built-in text editor? Does it import Powerpoint® files easily? What kind of background options do you have when projecting text? What kind of text animations or transitions are available? Can you print the notes that you type?
6. Accepted File Formats. In today’s media environment, versatility rules. What video and audio file formats does the software accept? Can you play audio files that do not contain video? Will the software accept a video file with audio as a background on which you can overlay text?
7. DVD/Blue Ray Playback. Many pastors love to use movie clips for sermon illustrations. Can the software set an in-point and out-point on a DVD or Blue Ray disc and allow you to put that clip into your service schedule?
8. Song Library. What kinds of songs are pre-loaded with the software (only public domain hymns, or contemporary songs as well)? Does the software allow easy import of lyrics from other sources, such as CCLI? How easy is it to add your own song lyrics?
9. Hardware Requirements. Hardware requirements vary greatly from package to package. It should be noted that the minimum hardware requirements listed on the software package may be lower than what is actually required if you are wanting to use videos or video backgrounds within the software.
10. Support and Upgrades. Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and it is important to get connected to a software company that is committed to ongoing improvements and enhancements. It is also important to have a good reference manual and readily-accessible online or phone support. What are current users saying about the support they receive?
Most of the more popular software packages have free trial versions that you can download and use on a temporary basis. Experimenting with them is a worthy investment of time and should go a long way in helping you determine which one is most suitable for your church.