Tips for Choosing the Best Church Media Software
Selecting the best church media presentation software is an important part of building a high-quality AV ministry. This software powers the visuals you use each week to focus people’s hearts and minds, communicate important information, display song lyrics and Scripture texts, and more— so it has an outsized influence on the feel of your worship services.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through 5 tips that will help you choose the best church media software for your needs, plus we’ll cover many of the media-specific features and capabilities that modern worship presentation software solutions can provide.
Tips for Choosing the Best Church Media Software
As you start (or continue) your search for a newer, better church media software solution, there are dozens of ways you could go about it. Feature lists seem like they’re a mile long, too, so evaluating products side by side is sometimes frustrating.
There’s a time to look deeply into feature sets, but there are several steps you’ll want to take care of first. Work through these tips before jumping to comparisons and features.
1. Inventory Your Current Tech
Unless you’re in the pre-launch phase of planting a church, you probably aren’t starting from scratch. Start with a thorough inventory of everything you already do in your regular church services.
Do you use images and video files? Rely on presentation software for displaying sermon notes? Use an online song library or database? What about multiple screens and feeds? Are you live streaming? With what gear??
Try to gather everything related to media or presentations, and put it into a list.
2. Brainstorm Desired Capabilities (Stuff You Would Use Now If You Had It)
Step 1 was your “must-have” list — you don’t want to switch to a new church media software solution that doesn’t do what you’re doing now. Now build your “nice to have” list.
What capabilities do you want? Are there things you’d use immediately if you could? Maybe you’d like to do lower thirds, or unify your livestream and in-person content streams. You may be frustrated at limitations on the number of outputs, or how your current solution handles stage views.
Perhaps you’d love the ability to import songs automatically from a song library so you can project lyrics without copy/pasting lyrics each week.
Even if it seems farfetched or something you don’t think is possible, put it on the list for now.
3. Forecast Future Needs
You’ve finished your “must have” and “nice to have” lists, then start to plan for the future.
The future is uncertain, but estimate your growth-related future needs. Overflow rooms, multilingual services, heavier use of media content like motions and background videos, upgraded live streaming setups, 4K, and a dozen other things might be on your “Future List.”
So before you invest in a new presentation solution, or settle for free church presentation software, take the time to catalog your projected future needs.
4. Check for Compatibility with Your Existing Tech Stack
It’s common for ministries to look into new hardware and software solutions when they’re upgrading their AV environment. If you’re investing in new software, you’ll usually need better hardware to run it.
Whether you’re approaching a new build, a major update, or simply looking to incorporate new software, compatibility is key. Not every software on the market is compatible with all AV hardware, and some software for churches is PC or Mac exclusive, rather than cross-platform.
Supported platforms can also cause issues, particularly if you’re hanging onto an older OS for a particular software or hardware connection type.
Look for a solution that supports industry standard formats and popular hardware devices. And if you’re using anything you already know is unusual or where support is thin, vet the new software against those devices.
5. Consider Stability, Support, and Usability
Your church media software needs to perform reliably, without crashes or glitches that could be disruptive to a worship service.
Closely tied to stability is maintenance and support, because software must be maintained as operating systems and hardware advance. A free church presentation software solution might work, but if it’s only being updated by one hobbyist, you’re likely to run into problems.
Last, evaluate the usability of any software or platform you’re considering. The best media software for churches understands that most church AV teams are volunteer operated, and needs to be simple for them. If an interface is confusing or complicated, it adds extra training or hand-holding needs, which can be inconvenient or a game stopper.
Ideal Features in the Best Church Media Presentation Software
By now you’ve already got quite a set of lists going, but it’s hard to remember everything — and it’s impossible to put a feature on your list until you know that the capability exists.
We want to help you create the best wish list possible, so we’ve compiled a list of features that the best church media software options include. Your best choice is a solution that includes many if not all of the features below.
Transparent Media Player
As churches rely more heavily on video content, you don’t want a clunky media interface. If your congregation is still seeing a mouse pointer click “Play”, you don’t want that going forward.
Modern solutions like ProPresenter can play media files with no visible interface controls, creating an undistracting experience during church services.
Wide Support for Video and Audio File Types
You never know what file formats might come in the door with a guest speaker, or even your speakers, and Sunday morning isn’t the time to discover that your church media software can’t handle a particular format.
To avoid scrambling for a converter, codec, or standalone video player, look for wide support for image, video, and audio file types.
Flexible Video Playback Controls
Not only do you need wide support for file types, you also want flexible control over how and when your media content plays. For example, being able to play media content automatically at the start of a slide, pause a video to emphasize a point, schedule on a timer (such as pre-service announcements), or control from your phone on the stage.
Advanced solutions like ProPresenter let you place the video in the background or the foreground, loop videos, color correct, crop, and much more. Here’s a brief list of video features available in ProPresenter:
- Set in and out points.
- Change effect color, brightness, and volume.
- Crop. Particularly useful for vertical videos.
- Custom scaling options, like stretch, letterbox, and scale.
- Save/apply video effects templates.
- Support for alpha channel/Key & Fill.
- Output multiple layers simultaneously with and without lower thirds.
- Live stream directly from ProPresenter, no external software required.
Support for Pro Formats
Not every church relies on professional broadcast formats like SDI and NDI, but if you do, your church presentation software must support these formats. Many lower-tier solutions don’t give options for SDI hardware, like Blackmagic DeckLink cards or UltraStudio gear.
Access to Media Libraries
Most churches pull assets from free or paid media libraries to use as they build presentations at least some of the time. These libraries can be accessed directly via the web, but downloading individual assets and then pulling them into your worship presentation software can be time-consuming and create the potential for errors.
Look for a presentation solution that has built-in access to quality media libraries, both free and paid. Mos
Ability to Import Songs and Scripture
Most churches are displaying lyrics every week, and Scripture passages as part of a homily. Copy/pasting lyrics from Google is time consuming and error-prone, which is why most church-specific solutions connect to online lyrics databases.
Look for a solution that can import songs from a database, like MultiTracks.com or SongSelect. Automatic importing is a much faster way to load lyrics, especially when the band jumps into a song that wasn’t pre-planned.
The same goes for Scripture passages, most church presentation softwares will include direct access to Bible translations. ProPresenter includes over 125 translations and in 36 languages, and can even show side-by-side versions for comparison or diving deeper.
General office-oriented presentation software typically sends a single output over HDMI, VGA, or DisplayPort. Most have a presenter view that shows on the presenter’s device, to show speaking notes and the next slide.
ProPresenter is different. With an architecture designed for lots of screens, ProPresenter can create multiple Stage Screens (also called Confidence Monitors, or Foldback Monitors) to show your speaking notes, timers, clocks, messages, and the points for the next slide.
See this for yourself:[link to https://renewedvision.com/propresenter/ but on the “Multi-screen, Built-in” heading]
ProPresenter: The Best Media Presentation Software for Churches
There’s plenty of competition on the market, but ProPresenter outperforms everything else in churches, not to mention many general-market offerings.
This is why we’ve produced comparison guides for a number of competing church media software solutions. Check out how ProPresenter stacks up against the rest:
- Worship Extreme vs ProPresenter Comparison Guide
- Faithlife Proclaim vs ProPresenter Comparison Guide.
- PowerPoint vs ProPresenter Comparison Guide
- Keynote vs ProPresenter Comparison Guide
- Prezi vs ProPresenter Comparison Guide
- EasyWorship vs ProPresenter Comparison Guide
Transitioning to a new church media software solution can be a significant process, and churches want to be sure they’re making the right choice before committing to a software.
That’s why Renewed Vision offers an unrestricted ProPresenter 7 trial, for 2 weeks, and see for yourself. Download today!