How & When to Upgrade Your Church AV Software

Dog with headphones running church AV software from production booth

How well is your church AV software holding up?

Frequently, we see churches take their time upgrading their church audio-visual equipment and the corresponding software. Budgets are often tight, and the drive to be good stewards of ministry finances can sometimes mean unusual purchase cycles.

But if you wait too long, you end up using software that’s long past its end of life. You’ll start missing out on features that could make your day-to-day life and use of the software so much easier — and you’ll never even know it.

Using outdated software is a magnet for computer viruses, as systems are no longer getting security updates, and usually run by volunteers who can unintentionally download something.

In this post, we’ll walk through the process of upgrading your church AV software: how to do it, when to do it, and the best practices surrounding this crucial component of AV for churches.

What You Need to Know Before Upgrading Church AV Software

Production Assistant running a live worship service using ProPresenter church AF software

Before we talk about upgrading software, we need to clear up a few technical hardware-related details.

Hardware and Software Often Get Upgraded at the Same Time

First, it’s common to upgrade AV hardware and software at the same time. Trying to run new software on an old computer, even an old computer that used to be really good, is like putting new wine into old wineskins. It usually doesn’t work, or has more problems than it’s worth.

And often old software won’t even install on newer hardware. While it’s not an absolute requirement, upgrading software and hardware together will often solve problems before they hatch.

Upgrade Before You Have To

With both hardware and software, you never want to wait until you have to upgrade. Upgrade before you reach that point. You don’t want something to break in the middle of a church service. 

Future-Proof as Much as Possible

Person live streaming an interview with a panel of guests

When you do upgrade your hardware, don’t skimp. Instead, future-proof as much as possible so your new hardware lasts as long as possible. Get more horsepower than you need right now, which should include:

  • An SSD
  • A quality GPU and CPU
  • A sufficient amount of RAM

If you aren’t familiar with these stats, look at the recommended minimums on your chosen AV software, and then overshoot. If your software recommends 16GB of RAM, get more than that.

What about just adding X to the current computer?

Speaker presenting on stage during a worship service

The main parts affecting performance are the CPU, GPU, storage, and RAM, with the computer’s motherboard holding them all together. If one of these is a bottleneck, then it’s easy to upgrade a single piece. If everything is slow, then it’s time to upgrade the whole machine.

Sometimes you can just add more RAM to a computer, or swap the hard drive for an SSD, and it will give more life to the system. If your computer has 8GB of RAM and is starting to slow down, giving it 16GB or RAM will likely help. Same with putting in an SSD. 

Having a 3 to 5-year cycle for computers is generally a good policy, but sometimes churches stretch things. If you’ve been stretching your hardware for a while, it might be time to buy something proper.

How to Know When It’s Time to Upgrade

Outdated computer hardware

Sometimes it’s obvious to everyone that it’s upgrade time, but often churches don’t know what they’re missing until they look at what’s available today in a pro-grade solution like ProPresenter.

If you’re not sure whether it’s time (or past time), use these clues to help you decide.

Your Software Has Become Unreliable

If your church AV software is crashing halfway through the church service, it isn’t doing its job. Sometimes this isn’t the software’s fault: it could be the PC or Mac you’re using to run your AV presentations. But if you’re running older or no longer supported software, chances are the software is at least partially to blame.

Your Software Isn’t Doing Everything You Need

One frequent reason churches upgrade is that they outgrow their current solution. If your church is growing, chances are, your broader AV systems are growing, too — in complexity and size. 

Eventually, you may run into some function you need that your current church AV software just doesn’t do. Maybe you’re starting up live streaming, or you need more robust app-based remote control functionality. The pandemic meant tons of churches upgraded their online streaming in a hurry, and a lot of their audio/video software could no longer do everything needed. Maybe you’re still using PowerPoint or Keynote, but an integration with Planning Center Online would make life easier for the worship leader.

If your software is no longer doing what you need, then it’s time to upgrade to something newer and more capable.

Using Your Software Is Unnecessarily Slow or Complicated

The last sign it’s likely time to upgrade is when the experience of using your current software solution isn’t keeping up. If using your software is slow, clunky, or unnecessarily complicated, there’s a better way.

Features You May Be Missing Out On

Presentation screens displaying cues to on-stage talent

Of course, it can be hard to know what the alternative is like — until you experience a more modern solution. Here’s a list of features that a modern solution like ProPresenter offers. If your current solution is missing several (or all!) of these, you’re missing out.

  • Direct lyrics import, from MultiTracks.com. No more copy/pasting from Google.
  • Stage Screens, so the speakers or band can see the words on the back wall.
  • Chords for the musicians on the Stage Screens.
  • App-based remote controls.
  • External integrations, so your AV software can communicate with lighting and video systems.
  • Built-in live streaming.
  • Lyrics overlays, and lower thirds on your live stream.
  • Planning Center Online integration.
  • Live video inputs.
  • Multiple outputs throughout your facility (lobby screens, side screens, livestream, nursery feed, etc.) from a single presentation.
  • Ability to rotate photos and videos directly inside presentation software. No more ugly vertical video.

ProPresenter easily handles all this and much more. If you’re straining due to the limitations of your current solution or you’re looking to expand your capabilities without adding yet another software layer to your tech stack, ProPresenter is the solution you’ve been missing.

The Best Approach: Maintain ProPresenter+ Yearly

Screenshot of ProPresenter worship software

Depending on how you maintain your church AV software, bug fixes might be slow or non-existent. But with the release of ProPresenter 7 and a new option called ProPresenter+, that’s no longer an issue or concern.

You purchase ProPresenter 7 for $399 for a single device, or $999 for a campus license. This rate includes all advanced features, which ProPresenter 6 called modules, and were worth over $2,000.

The Renewed Vision team has tremendous vision to empower churches, and keeps adding major features, upgrades, and improvements to ProPresenter. In the last 2 years Renewed Vision has released 8 major updates to ProPresenter – you can see the full list of features under What’s New. ProPresenter+ gives access to all of it.

A license purchase includes 12 months of ProPresenter+, which gives you every software update and feature upgrade released, along with top-tier support from Renewed Vision.

ProPresenter+ allows you to renew every 12 months, for ongoing upgrades and improvements. If you don’t renew, ProPresenter will continue to work forever. However, ProPresenter+ keeps your software updated with the latest and greatest.

This way, no church needs to get stuck with an outdated version of ProPresenter. You always retain access to the software, with yearly renewals giving you ongoing access to updates and new versions.

Ready to get started? Download now to start your two-week free trial.

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