Worship Software Selection Guide
Deciding on what worship software package your church should use can be a daunting task. At last count there were over 45 packages to pick from. The biggest problem for those new to worship software is just knowing what there is to consider. This guide was written to help give some guidance to those new to worship software.
A lot of people don't even know what questions to ask or what is available in features on different programs. My first suggestion is simply to download one of the trial versions of a popular worship software package and play with it. This will go a long way with helping you understand what is available.
Many churches simply choose to use PowerPoint. A lot use PowerPoint because they became familiar with it at work or school. A lot already have the PowerPoint because their church received it with their Microsoft Office software package. One advantage of PowerPoint is that there are so many people familiar with it. It is also relatively easy to use. PowerPoint can, however, be very limiting. It really wasn't designed for church worship. If you do a lot of planning for your services and hold to a strict order of service then you may be able to make PowerPoint work. There are a lot of things that PowerPoint won't do however. If you want to be able to easily make changes on the fly or use a feature such as text over moving video then PowerPoint probably won't work for you.
Probably one big reason NOT to use PowerPoint is the fact that to many people, PowerPoint is what the see at work or in school. It carries a distinct "flavor" with it. It may be that the last thing you want to do is to have members of your congregation get this feeling that they are at work or school when they are at church. They may not even know why they don't like the projected songs, but subliminally you may be reminding them of work.
A great number of worship software packages were simply developed because users became frustrated with the limitations of PowerPoint, they knew that with a little "C" programming, they could overcome the limitations that they saw.
Some of the worship software products are designed to completely replace PowerPoint. Most are designed to handle congregational singing but will allow you to run PowerPoint from them. A few are designed for you to use PowerPoint as your main projection software but give you various features to augment it. Whatever you do, if you decide to use PowerPoint I recommend that you avoid using the same backgrounds and themes that come with PowerPoint so that you can avoid the "business" or "school" look and feel to your audience.
Worship Software Overview
Worship software has been around for several years now. Some packages have been continually updated and are in their 7th or higher release. Some products were hatched in the last year. A lot of the packages started with some programmer who was the church "techie" who got frustrated with the limitations of PowerPoint and decided to write their own software for projecting song lyrics. As time went on, they added scripture showing code, code for announcements, static and animated backgrounds and even text over live video feeds.
Many of these software products have maintained "mom and pop" status and are run by an individual in their spare time as a hobby turned home business. A few products have gone mainstream with full time programmers and support staff. Several have a hybrid status with a supporting equipment or mainstream software company providing administrative support to some talented programmers. In the last couple of years even "open source" collaborative worship software packages have been released by users who believe that software should be free and open to all.
PowerPoint remains the #1 product for sermons and announcement slides. Most products allow the importing of PowerPoint slides. There are a few specialty products that don't actually replace PowerPoint but act as "add-on" or "back-end" products to help deal with the inadequacies of PowerPoint. In addition, some specialty products are especially designed with a musical performer in mind or for those whose main need is for a specialized database of organizing worship and staff rather than presenting lyrics.