A Church Database Management Solution
Choosing the presentation software that your church uses for Sunday services can be a tricky decision. There are several great products available on the market, and they all have their own unique selling points. We're going to briefly look at EasyWorship, ProPresenter and Media Shout and offer our opinion.
On one hand, you want something that has flexibility and will be able to easily handle video and audio playback, perhaps Powerpoint files and graphic, and most importantly songs. You want it to do a lot. On the other hand, you're looking for a piece of software that you could sit a volunteer down in front of, potentially just a few minutes before a church service, and know that they'll be able to quickly understand the interface and operate it. This can be a difficult balance to find, and there are several products on the market that look to solve the same problem for you.
There are three market leaders in the worship software space:
ProPresenter - http://www.renewedvision.com/propresenter.php
$399 - Mac & Windows
EasyWorship - http://easyworship.com/
$389 - Windows
Media Shout - http://www.mediashout.com/
$429 - Mac & Windows
All three of these will do the basics of what you're looking for - their primary purpose is to store a song library and allow easy navigation through the songs and the slides of the songs for a worship set. On top of this, all three pieces of worship software allow you to play back video and audio through the software, either as a background loop behing song lyrics, or as a standalone video that might be used during a sermon.
Whilst all three support video playback through their software, it's not just the software that you should consider when thinking this through. One huge difference between a Mac and a PC is that a Mac comes pre-installed with codecs (little bits of software that are needed to decode video files) for dozens of video formats; PCs typically do not offer support for as many video formats out of the box. In many circumstances, this wouldn't matter, but when you have a visiting speaker that turns up wanting to play a last minute video, if your computer doesn't have the codec installed, it can be difficult to find the appropriate download at the last minute.
It is my opinion that a Mac is far better suited towards video playback than a PC, so if you're planning to use plenty of video playback, purchasing a Mac and Mac worship software might well be the way to go.
When working with volunteers, having something that looks simple on the screen, and does exactly what you expect it to when you click on it is priceless!
EasyWorship goes for a 3-column display, where the left column includes your song library, the centre column shows the song that is next in the queue and the right column shows the song that is currently being presented. Media Shout follows a similar principle, but includes a screen preview of what is being output in the right column, whilst removing the preview of the next song in the queue. ProPresenter goes for the simplest layout, with essentially a two column layout, with the song library in the left column (along with a live output screen) and the current song in the right column.
From my experience working with volunteers trying out all of these pieces of software, ProPresenter has been the interface that volunteers feel most comfortable with most quickly. The two column layout works well and keeps thing simple so that the volunteer has confidence that they quickly know what they're doing - you can't put a price on that!
All three of these pieces of worship presentation software are similarly priced, each coming in at roughly $400. It's not cheap, but you're getting a lot of features for what you're paying. Each piece of software has features that the others don't, some offering intergration with CCLI song database, others Twitter integration (much like our free Twitter presentation), whilst others have iPhone applications to control playback.
Having used each of these pieces of software to run Media at large conferences such as New Wine, Vineyard Churches National Leaders Conference and dozens of sunday services, my personal preference is ProPresenter - it just ticks so many boxes. With a Windows version of ProPresenter also now available, I think it's the best option out there.
No one at ChurchApp is in any way associated with any of these pieces of worship software that we have mentioned above. This review is entirely of the author's personal opinion, and no royalties have been paid for this article.