Worship Media Arts

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Worship Presentation Software Review 2007

One of the most common questions we get at our seminars is, “I’m ready to move past PowerPoint. Which worship presentation software should I buy?”

Sometimes it seems the questioner is seeking a one-word answer. We’re honored that people would trust us to make such a decision for them. However, this is a major purchase in the life of a media ministry. In what other significant area of ministry, or life, would a person want to be given a one-word answer? If you were going to buy a car, would you just take someone’s recommendation and go drop thousands of dollars on a website? Mmm, maybe not. If you were like us, you’d research online first, pay attention to other cars on the road, maybe buy one of those buyer’s guide magazines, and then test-drive a few models.

To save you all of that trouble, we’ve compiled a worship presentation software buyer’s guide. We’ve got all?Äîwell, some?Äîof the latest makes and models listed here, with all of technical info in one spot. (These are six of what are considered to be “industry leaders.” We’ve got them listed alphabetically.)

In addition to the usual stuff such as features, system requirements, tech support, pricing and demos, we asked users of our Midnight Oil Metaphorum to give us feedback for each program. Within each program’s description are real human beings talking about their experiences. Have fun behind the wheel and don’t forget: “Once you drive it off the lot, it’s yours.”

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<p><strong>EasyWorship 2007</strong></p>
<p><img class=Community of Hope in Mansfield, TX, is a big fan of EasyWorship. He says, “Our media team is totally comprised of volunteers. Tools that are ?Äòeasy’, user friendly and work with quick training is essential to bring them on board as quickly as possible. We find Easy Worship to fit that need for those volunteers who manage our LCD presentations.”

The company website features a knowledge base, FAQ, a well-populated forum, a dusty blog, email, phone and live online support.

EasyWorship retails for $399, and is sometimes available for less, at a number of retailers, including here at Midnight Oil.

Each of the programs in the survey has fully working, 30-day demo versions available via online download. EasyWorship’s may be found at http://easyworship.com/downloads.php.

19 Comments so far »

  1. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on May 22, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

    What do you think? Leave a message if you have something to say about this article. No registration is required to post a comment, but we will moderate for spam and obscene language, so your comment will be delayed in posting until we clear it.

  2. Stacey Ward said,

    Wrote on June 5, 2007 @ 7:24 am

    Hey Mo Guys…

    Great overview of ALL the latest and greatest church media software out today! But our church was already sold on MediaShout and have begun to use it in our bible study and will soon intergate it in our Sunday worship services. Todd Temple and his crew our AWESOME and have been a blessing and valueable resource to our church here in Maryland. We are looking to purchase a broader variety of generic backgrounds and will probaly purhcase some of your products. Thanks so very much!

    Stacey Ward
    Media Ministry Team, The People’s Community Baptist Church
    Silver Spring, MD

  3. Gerald Branch said,

    Wrote on June 19, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

    Great review. We use SundayPlus 2.4 and just for clarification, it does work under Vista (just use compatability mode and run as administrator. Also, SundayPlus 2.4 DOES include support for SongSelect…just drag and drop and the editor in SP converts the txt file to the SP native file. Once DVD support is included, this program will be even greater! Ease of operation is a big plus…with a little supervision and training, young ‘tech’s can operate the program with ease…that is a plus in smaller churches.

    Gerald Branch
    Dallas Baptist Church
    Dallas, PA

  4. Daniel Maldonado said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 2:50 am

    We have been using ProPresenter for quite some time. This program is easy to use and learn. Our church uses volunteers for the audio visual ministry and anyone can learn to use this program within five minutes. The new version v 3.0, is even better. The program plays flawless every video, background video we use. Real time editing and changes to slides is a snap of the fingers. This is a solid software. And the best part is that it is for the Mac only. (Not the dark side of the force! Just kidding!) I recomend this software to anyone!

    Daniel Maldonado
    ICDC Cerro Gordo, Bayam??n PR

  5. Tim Gossett said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 6:12 am

    Thanks for putting this all together in one place – very helpful, and timely too in our case. Having used both PowerPoint and SongShowPlus for worship purposes, I definitely feel like using PowerPoint for worship is like using a wrench to pound in a nail–it can get the job done, but it’s not something I’d want to have to do week in and week out!

  6. Tom said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 8:37 am

    Nice review guys. I know you have limited space to cover everything but on your next set of reviews it would be great if you could cover a few items that aren’t always easy to find in the feature lists on the different program’s web sites. A few that come to mind are how well they handle flash files and how well do they interact with png files.

  7. Daniel Koster said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 9:55 am

    I basically work as a consultant for a handful of different ministries, and I use MediaShout on my own laptop. I have seen EasyWorship and regularly use ProPresenter in my home church. For a side by side comparison of EasyWorship and MediaShout, there’s no contest in my opinion, MediaShout is definitely the clear winner.

    But against ProPresenter it’s a more complex decision. I was debating this with someone from a church using ProPresenter, and they made a valid argument. If you wanted to get a volunteer up to speed on using the program, ProPresenter has a more user friendly interface. But in my opinion, this is like any other PC or Mac comparison. A Mac (and ProPresenter) is easier to use out of the box, but the PC has greater potential once you familiarize yourself with it. I do agree with Daniel Maldonado, ProPresenter is a solid well made program that just works. But it will cost significantly more and it’s list of features isn’t as large as MediaShout. Of course, a lot of people I know using MediaShout never get into any of the advanced features anyway.

    Tom, I have had no problems using MediaShout with SWF and PNG files. The version I have will not do FLV files, but I’m sure that will be amended soon (if not already).

  8. Joe said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 10:09 am

    Good job on the reviews. We have been using SongShow Plus for four years and as the primary user I love it. The features are neverending and the staff at R-Technics does a terrific job of incorporating user wishes into the upgrades. This software gets better and better. The others look good too but at this point I wouldn’t consider using anything else.

  9. Bill Beatty said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 10:18 am

    Hey guys – great review. As a long time SundayPlus user, I’ll echo Gerald’s comment (above) that it does indeed work under Windows Vista (and I didn’t even do that “compatability mode” stuff – just loaded it on the laptop and have been using it for a couple months now under Vista). Also, it appears (on the SP website) that version 2.1 is available for MACs – for free, no less…

    Having said (er…written) all that, I’ve been considering changing over to a different system (video in SP is still a little flaky – at least in what I’ve used – doesn’t like mpeg at all…just quicktime…) so this review is right on time for me… I know it’s subjective, but a quick note on how easy it would be to “drop” someone into using the software would be nice. Last night my computer guy got an urgent phone call and he pulled another guy out of the congregation, gave him, no kidding, a thirty second rundown of what to do with SundayPlus while I talked to the kids (church camp) – we were back to worship in under a minute – and the guy had never seen SundayPlus before…

    Thanks for everything you guys do!

  10. Rev. Beth Galbreath said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 10:48 am

    On the other hand…we use PowerPoint 2007. The main reason for the upgrade is the ability for dual output (and the super-cheap deal available through our denomination). We also love the new ability to add a border around text, a feature of worship software that was missing before. I need to re-evaluate the other options, because several years ago when we first evaluated them, the thing that sold us on PowerPoint was _control_. Previous versions of the worship contenders, at least, thought they knew better than we did what font to use and how to split songs into slides. Since our congregation includes many older folks who love the BIG text we use on the screen, the ability to have _complete_ artistic control _without a lot of hassle_ was the deal-maker for us; although the other packages play ppt files, they didn’t offer enough added value – for us at that time – to justify the added expense. I look forward to checking out how the new contenders handle this.

  11. Lee Menningen said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    Instead of calling it a review, per se, I think of it as a collection of capsule product summaries, which of course is useful in its own right and does have a time-saving value to a potential buyer.

    Beyond that, though, it would be nice to find a review somewhere that actually flushes out discriminators between products and tells new potential users those discriminators, rather than just the basics of what each product does.

    Important features of these products should include what is available to create tailored nice looking displays that go way beyond just a song with a purchased background file showing through. Some products out there can’t do anything fancy while others excel, but they all do the basics.

    One can’t expect a person to download trials of these products and figure out all the intricate capabalities (or gotcha’s) of multiple products – the user who downloads trial versions is only going to discover the basics. That is the market where comparative reviews focusing on differentiators would be useful to.

  12. Rev. Bryan Stamper said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 11:54 am

    I’d say try a FREE program called Opensong. It’s tricky to download and get set-up but it works great on our Macs. Go to opensong.org and prepare to putz around to figure out everything to download. It doesn’t do moving video BUT it has a lot of great features, including chord charting and transposing.

    It works great for us, and again, it’s free.

  13. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    Lee,

    You’re right, we don’t discriminate. We honestly think that’s in the eye of the beholder. That’s why in the body of the article we called it a “buyer’s guide.” “Review” is shorter – fits a title better.

    Bryan,

    Thanks for suggesting that. We’ve got Opensong and a few others listed in our software section, which you can get to by the link at the bottom of the article.

    Beth and others,

    We agree that the type editing capabilities of these programs are limited. This is why we recommend Photoshop, ultimately, for anyone interested in truly designed images for screens in worship.

    Keep those comments coming!

  14. pr. sigue said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    this was very very helpful. i loved media shout and used it for 3 years now but when i switched to mac i just had no way of using the cool software. about to try the demo for liveworship now. thank you for your reviews. it truly was the determining factor to my decision. God bless.
    ~mark

  15. Jim Galbreath said,

    Wrote on June 20, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

    Our single biggest frustration is integrating smooth video into worship presentations. I’d like to see more data on that feature in these programs, and I’d love to read other folks’ experiences with this type of software on different video formats (e.g. MO’s nifty clips and loops!).

  16. Mike Dennis said,

    Wrote on July 5, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

    We’ve used Powerpoint, Keynote (liked it), ProPresenter (2.x) and LiveWorship in our services. We’ve demoed MediaShout 2.5 and ProPresenter 3.0 behind the scenes.

    We wanted more features than PowerPoint and Keynote (I personally think Keynote’s layout is the strongest of any of the programs, though it’s weak on universal text style changes).

    Our new computer is an iMac, so we decided against MediaShout 3 (in BootCamp) when the MediaShout for Mac was dropped. We wanted an integrated environment and simplicity (ie – we didn’t want to dual boot), and Parallels wasn’t able to handle MediaShout yet.

    ProPresenter came out just as we made our decision. There were several features not yet available (Bibles for example) that we wanted, so we decided against it. But I think it has major promise and may emerge as the best of class on OS X.

    We chose LiveWorship and have been extremely happy. It has some non-intuitive elements (for example, the only way to access the text editor is through a rt. click menu), but overall, it very easy to learn and work with.

    Has tons of features, including a live video feed. Our team are mostly Windows folks at their jobs and homes, but have taken to the drag and drop interface quickly. There are a couple of bible versions they are still working at securing rights to use. But excellent out of the box in our experience.

  17. Midnight Oil Productions | Reading | Archive » Ask the MO Guys August 2007 said,

    Wrote on August 8, 2007 @ 11:16 am

    [...] Worship Presentation Software Review 2007 [...]

  18. Allan W. said,

    Wrote on August 8, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    Great review, thanks. I’m about to make the leap into ProPresenter 3 after checking it out for a few days here at the Luis Palau Association. I use Media Shout 3.2 currently to run videos, graphics, loops, and announcements at our Christian festivals and donor events. I’m looking for a Mac app that does most of what it does (more elegantly, I hope).

    I like what I see with PP3, and they’re making good strides. Love to hear what other users think – any good user groups/forums out there for PP3?

  19. kbob said,

    Wrote on May 13, 2008 @ 5:00 am

    Two points:

    OpenSong, as already mentioned, has a Mac version available (for OS X), but it also works for Linux and Windows, making a truly cross platform solution. The lack of PPT integration ended up being a big shortcoming for our volunteers when we were trying it. Now that we?ve gone primarily to IMAG, the lack of video support isn?t as big a deal.

    For what it?s worth-the text over images looks as good or better than any other WS we tried, except perhaps EW.

    Next-Presentation Manager

    I?d love to know what you guys think of it. We?re looking around again, as our setup rapidly evolves. We?re wanting to run three screens (our MoM/Pastor are pushing this, believe it or not). Currently, we?re thinking of using the left screen for Spanish translations (we also do live audio translations from english to spanish, or vice versa when the speaker is speaking in spanish), and the right screen for english, with the middle screen being IMAG.

    Presentation manager can handle driving two different screens with two different but optionally linked databases at the same time. It can also do this on a single screen, which others can do as well.

    For us, that?s an important feature due both to lack of volunteers and money for additional pcs, and even space to put the second WS operator.

    I think it?s the ability to link screens one and two together, while still displaying something different on each one. You can still drive backgrounds behind the text et al.

    They were still in beta when I first checked it out, but everything looked fairly tight at that time.

    Not having a Mac, and not looking to go that way, I?d be curious to see how PM compares with the feature set in PP3.

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