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7 Critical Limitations of Free Church Presentation Software

Free church presentation software is an enticing offer for many churches — after all, you can’t beat the price.

Even though we don’t offer a free product or version, we definitely get the draw.

But here’s the thing: even the best free worship software has critical limitations, and we think you should know about before making your decision.

Take OpenLP for example: we believe it’s probably the best free worship software out there, but there’s still quite a bit it can’t do when compared to ProPresenter 7 and other pro-grade tools. And there’s plenty more that you can do, but just not as easily, cleanly, or efficiently.

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Today’s post isn’t a deep dive into OpenLP’s features and capabilities. For that, check out our OpenLP vs ProPresenter comparison guide [[link when live]].

Instead, today we’re going to walk through the crucial limitations that are common in free church presentation software. These are the things that free software can’t do (or can’t do well). So if you need any of these capabilities, you may want to think twice before committing to a free solution.

Limited Media Capabilities

Just about every ministry needs the ability to display images and videos and play back video files of various types. And most free worship presentation software solutions offer this to some degree—but they can be pretty limited.

Some apps rely on third-party video players like VLC for broad compatibility, but you’ll have a hard time doing full screen or looping media without clunky menu interfaces showing up.

And what about looping video in the background as you display song lyrics? Most free solutions can’t do that at all.

Clunky Slide Design Interface

Layout of ProPresenter for Live Streaming

Next, consider the slide design user interface, because you’re going to use it a lot. Every single week, you’ll be building custom slides so you can display lyrics or announcements on the big screen. Every presentation tool will allow you to create and edit slides, of course. But the quality of the experience can vary— a lot.

The quality of the slide design interface directly influences the quality of your slides and the amount of time you spend building them. Here, every single free product we’ve tried stumbles.

No Livestream Support

Does your church livestream its services? Do you include presentation content on that stream (or do you wish you could)?

Technically, there’s a way to do this with all free software. But it’s complicated and very manual.

No free product offers the kind of livestream support that ProPresenter does: ProPresenter can act as the central hub for your live stream, combining your live video and presentation content and then encoding that feed and sending it directly to your streaming platform of choice!

That’s something that most paid products, including Microsoft PowerPoint, can’t do.

No Access to Song Databases or Premium Media Libraries

One of the big limitations of free church presentation software is a lack of access to things that, well, aren’t free.

Most churches display lyrics every single week and many pull images or video content from some kind of media library for use in their presentations. And this can be done in free software, but everything becomes much more manual. You’ll be manually typing (or pasting from sketchy lyric sites) to get those lyrics in there because there’s no way to import songs, and the process of getting media from a web store to your presentation is cumbersome.

Paid products tend to include integrations with a song library like CCLI SongSelect and a range of media libraries. Going from blank slide to beautiful lyrics can be as simple as importing everything in just a few clicks.

Limited Support and Updates

If you use PowerPoint presentations (whether in service or elsewhere), you may already know that Microsoft pumps out an update to PowerPoint just about every single month. Often the changes are under the hood and invisible, but they matter. Those kinds of software updates are what keep your software stable and free from vulnerabilities.

Most free products (other than the tech giant freebies like Google Slides) rely on volunteers to code updates and even answer support calls. The result? Support is limited and updates are few and far between.

Few Integrations and Slow Dev Support

These days, most modern apps integrate with a variety of other tools, allowing users to do more (and more quickly) than if the two apps couldn’t talk to each other.

Free presentation apps struggle here for the same reasons as the previous point: no one is getting paid to make those integrations, so they either don’t get made or get made quite slowly.

Similarly, if you encounter a bug or a missing crucial feature, dev support is going to be slower than with a company that can devote staff resources to ongoing development.

Stage View and Output Limits

Sending an alternate presentation view to your stage is crucial in many ministry contexts. It’s also technically kind of complicated to do well, which is why you won’t find stage view implemented effectively in many free products.

Most apps, if they have a stage view at all, it’s limited to a stock set of functions or basically mirrors the main view. And if you need to output multiple stage views (or multiple main views), we’ve yet to find a free presentation app that can do so.

ProPresenter is unique among even paid apps: its seven-layer slide architecture allows for an unlimited number of outputs — including multiple distinct stage views.

Is Free Church Presentation Software Your Best Option?

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Now that you’ve seen some of the biggest limitations you’ll face by going with free church worship software, there’s just one question: are those trade-offs worth the savings?

If you don’t need these advanced features and don’t mind everything being a bit clunkier and more manual, then free might be the way to go.

But if you need more — or you simply need your software to work smoothly and efficiently — ProPresenter 7 is ready to surpass your expectations.

Not sure? You can judge for yourself: start your two-week unrestricted trial today.

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