Presentation You can Praise

Worship presentation software creates a unified package of song lyrics, prayer announcements, sermon notes, scripture readings, and video clips, bringing a new level of sophistication to worship—easily managed by one worship coordinator with a computer at hand. But are all programs the same? Our reviews give you the answers you need.

While the traditional hymnal and hymn boards continue to be used in many congregations, a growing number of churches are embracing multimedia technology to enhance their worship service. Just as copies of bound music gave way to overhead projectors and transparencies, now computers and LCD projectors have replaced these technologies.

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Specialized software is required to manage and generate the lyrics, announcements, video clips, and sermons that are projected in support of the worship service. In its most basic form, the software is designed to replace printed pages distributed to the congregation with the same text projected to a location visible to all. This could be accomplished by typing the words in a word processor using a large typeface and projecting them onto a screen, but our visual culture places high expectations on these displays. Software that can enhance and automate the visuals that the congregation sees helps the worship leader fill this need.

Microsoft’s PowerPoint is probably the most familiar piece of software in the presentation category. It allows a user to create slides that can be displayed, one by one, at a pace that matches the objectives of the presenter. Software designed for worship presentations goes far beyond this utility, integrating images, video, text, and even PowerPoint presentations into a package that can be modified during the course of the worship service, to accommodate both the Spirit-driven worship leader and the typist with poor spelling!

Technical Concerns

Worship presentation software is designed to be run through one computer that controls both a monitor and a projection or display device. In this configuration, the worship coordinator can transparently control everything the congregation experiences. One monitor will display the software control interface, while the other displays the worship sequence. The coordinator can make on-the-fly adjustments to the sequence of the visible content: correct misspellings, substitute praise songs, show Bible passages that the pastor mentions, and notify parents that they are needed in the nursery—all without any awkward onscreen moments.

In order for this scheme to work, the computer that runs the software must be equipped to handle multiple displays. Most laptops are equipped with an external display port that can be configured to run the second monitor while the control panel of the software shows on its LCD. Desktop computers are another matter. These computers will generally require an additional video card to support the second display. Unfortunately, a slot on the motherboard to support this second display adapter is not always available. Keep this important requirement in mind when considering multimedia equipment.

The Learning Curve

The complexity of the worship presentation software is another important consideration. Two measures of complexity must be evaluated. The first is the challenge of creating the service structure, and the second is the friendliness of the live presentation interface. Each software package uses its own unique interface, and many adopt their own language and model for creating a presentation. Some are more intuitive, while others require a good deal of upfront learning before attaining proficiency.

If you have ministry staff that can devote a large number of initial hours to learning the intricacies and features of a product, the complexity issue doesn’t matter much. On the other hand, if the worship ministry is staffed by volunteers with a limited amount of time to devote to the creation and operation of each Sunday’s service, a product with a lower training requirement is much more attractive. Continue reading

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