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Pros and Cons of Free Worship Software

The ideal worship presentation solution for a church is one that meets every presentation and display need that might come up, but that doesn’t break the bank in the process. So it makes sense that many AV directors and ministry leaders are looking for free worship software solutions.

But is free really the way to go with something you’re relying on to keep your worship services running smoothly? Often, the answer is no.

To help you decide whether a free or paid presentation solution is right for your church, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons.

Pro: No Cost 

Obviously, the biggest benefit of going with free church presentation software is, well, that it’s free. If cost is a primary driver, a free presentation solution certainly seems more attractive than one that costs hundreds of dollars per year.

screenshot of ProPresenter worship software

Pro: Widest Accessibility

Free tools are accessible to the widest possible audience: anyone with the right device can use the tool without any limitations based on subscription fees, internet connections, or other factors.

Tools with a wider user base tend to end up with wider community-driven support, as well.

screenshot of ProPresenter worship software

Pro: Easy to Learn

Free worship presentation software tends to be fairly limited in scope — that’s one of the prices of being free. But apps with more limited feature sets tend to be easier to learn than apps with robust tools.

So choosing free software for your worship services might limit how much you can do, but it will usually be easy for your volunteers to master that limited set of tools and functions.

Con: Limited Functionality

Free software tends to stick to a basic feature set, which can quickly become limiting for your church. Before you commit to a free tool, check to see whether it can do these things:

  • Play or embed audio files and video files (including as looped backgrounds)
  • Import songs, worship lyrics and Bible verses from databases
  • Produce one or more separate stage views, with information for the speaker and/or musicians
  • Easily output content to printed material (for creating bulletins, orders of worship, and so forth)

You’ll be doing certain things like lyric presentation at every single one of your worship services, so consider just how much time you’ll spend each year typing those manually if your free worship tool doesn’t auto-import.

Basic functionality also shows up heavily in slide design tools, limiting your ability to stand out and make a visual punch.

screenshot of ProPresenter worship software

Con: Lack of Support and Software Updates

Free tools — even those from Google-sized corporations — don’t tend to offer much in terms of customer support. If you run into a problem, you’re going to have a difficult if not impossible time getting a formal, official answer.

Independent free tools (so, pretty much everything besides Google Slides and Keynote) suffer from another kind of support problem: with no paid team developing the product, software updates are few and far between. And old, unpatched software can quickly become a security liability.

Con: Limited Integrations and Developer Support

Along the same lines, free tools tend to have limited developer support and few integrations with third-party companies for needed software and hardware. If the software already does everything you need it to do, then you’re OK. But if you’re waiting on the devs to roll out a new feature, you could be waiting a very long time.

Con: Lack of Learning and Content Resources

Free resources usually don’t come with robust resources for learning the tool, either. The same goes for rich media content used to build presentations (like slide backgrounds). You’ll be doing quite a bit more searching online rather than pulling from an existing well-stocked database.

Con: Limited Number of Screen Outputs

Free presentation tools tend to struggle in terms of technical execution, which means that you’re unlikely to find one that supports numerous screen outputs from within a single presentation file. You’ll be lucky to get a presenter view in addition to a main view. Anything beyond that isn’t going to happen with free tools.

Screenshot of ProPresenter Worship Software being used during a church service
Credit to @iizrra on Instagram

A Note About Freemium Products

Freemium products — free versions of paid software — might seem like a great compromise. But most of the time they don’t pan out: they tend to limit you to certain functionality that won’t be enough for most churches long-term.

For example, free presentation software might limit you to only 6 presentations in a playlist or to a certain number of slides in a show. Some even disable presentation mode entirely until you pay up.

Wrapping Up: Is Free Worship Software Right for You?

Free worship presentation tools certainly fill a need in the market for churches with limited or no AV budget. If basic functionality is enough for you and you don’t need integrations with third-party tools, a free version might be all you need.

But many churches, especially those with professional quality display needs, will need more. If you’re finding yourself frustrated by the limitations of free worship presentation software, consider ProPresenter. It isn’t free, but it is deeply powerful (yet easy to learn and use).

Read more about what sets ProPresenter apart from the rest.

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