In the wide world of church ministry, there’s a whole lot of issues to think about — from the mundane to the monumental. What form of church government should you adopt? What method of baptism is best? Should you use brass or aluminum offering plates? What brand of paper towels should you buy? There are big issues and there are not-so-big issues. One of the many issues you need to face has to do with presentation software.
The eternal destiny of souls isn’t dependent upon your presentation software. But, like all aspects of church life, it deserves a close look and some clear answers. Besides, the role it plays in church ministry can be very important. That’s why you should take a few minutes to read this article on the importance of church presentation software, and how to make the choice that’s best for you and your ministry.
Who needs presentation software?
We’ve given this article a pretentious-sounding title —”Why Every Church Needs Presentation Software.” Now, let’s burrow down into this issue a bit. Does every church need presentation software, really? We’ve assembled a few reasons why your ministry might (or might not) need presentation software. Here are at least four questions to ask as you’re deciding whether or not to use presentation software.
Are you already projecting information on a screen? If you are like more than 80% of churches in the United States, you probably already have a computer and projector in your church. Any software that puts information on the screen is presentation software, and the king of all presentation softwares is Microsoft PowerPoint. Yet, as we’ll explain later, Microsoft PowerPoint is not ideally adapted to the needs of most churches. At any rate, if you use a projector already, you’re going to need presentation software.
Are you ministering to a modern culture? Today’s culture is media saturated. In every pocket, upon every desk, and within every room are glowing screens with words, pictures, information, music, and video. This is the medium of modern communication. Church ministry attempts to reach a culture by using the same language. Hieroglyph, papyri, and cuneiform just aren’t going to cut it when you’re learning a new worship song or distributing the Sunday announcements. The optimal form of communication for most modern churches is media — projected on a screen and viewed by all. And that form of communication calls for presentation software.
Do you sing songs? If your church sings, there’s a good chance you can benefit from presentation software. In addition to be a cost-effective alternative to hymnbooks, it’s also an aesthetic improvement and an aid to most congregational singing. Projection software powers this improvement, and makes possible.
Do you want to make your preaching more memorable? Media, in its multiform manifestations, can add so much to a message — visual outlines, pictures, video clips, motion backgrounds, Scripture on screen, etc. Communication researchers have proven that the more ways that we receive information, the better that information will stick. For example, if you preach a message using your voice alone, people will remember some of it. If you add in visual aids, object lessons, video clips, and other features, the message is far more likely to last. That’s the power of presentation software. It allows you to share the message using additional forms of media. This serves to clarify, reinforce, illustrate, and enhance your preaching.
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, there’s a good chance you need presentation software. That leads to the next logical question — which presentation software should you choose?
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How should you choose presentation software?
When you’re faced choosing presentation software, the options can be baffling. You can choose software that might set you back a few thousand bucks. You can go for dinky, buggy applications that will cause more frustration than satisfaction. To simplify things, make your choice according to the following three guidelines: Capability, cost, and comfortability. (We’ve alliterated the list, so it’s more like a sermon outline.)
Capability – The software you choose should be able to do what you want it to do. There’s more to a presentation software than just getting stuff to show up on a big screen. A lot more. Presentation software can fulfill the following tasks:
- Organize your slideshow
- Generate countdown timers
- Allow video editing
- Manage multiple projection screens
- Provide on-the-fly editing and behind-the-scene readjustment
- Allow text-over-video
- Create slide transition effects
- Provide in-presentation video clips
- Display live video feed
- Automatically generate song lyrics
- Add Scripture text without leaving the software
- Provide pre-designed templates for quicker setup
- Add animations and text effects
- Allow multiple editor access
- Create environmental projection
- Store information and presentations in the cloud
- Insert sound effects and audio clips
The array of capabilities is virtually endless. That means you need to decide what you really need. No single presentation software will give you everything, but that’s okay. Because you don’t really need everything. Besides, even if you did want to get everything, you might not be able to afford it. Instead, you should come up with a list of the features that are important to you. For most churches, it will look like this:
- Easily add song lyrics
- Display video, including adding text-over-video
- Use countdown timers
- Easily insert Scripture text
Now, let’s talk dollars and cents. How much should you expect to pay? Presentation software runs the cost gamut. A brief survey we conducted found prices that range from $1,515 on the high end to $399 on the low end. Of course, additional licensing (for additional computers) and add-ons like custom remotes, more customer support, added modules, and other features can quickly drive this price up. A church, on average, can expect to spend around $500 for presentation software that meets their needs and allows access on at least three computers. Obviously, this cost does not include the purchase of computers, display screens, projectors, and media bundles or subscription services.
Once you’ve determined your cost and capability, you may feel good about making your choice. But there’s one more really critical factor to keep in mind — comfortability. Look at it this way. Let’s say you have a shiny new presentation software. You’re eager to unwrap your software, plug it in, and let it roll. People are going to be so amazed. But wait. How do you work the thing? The software presents a bewildering array of buttons, modules, interfaces, plug-ins, menus, layers, and screens. Did you just blow five-hundred bucks on more software than you know how to handle?
Some churches are privileged to have highly talented, tech-savvy individuals in their congregation who are comfortable with high-end software, and who can easily manage a church’s media needs. In other churches, less tech-savvy volunteers may be in charge of the presentation software. How do you find a software that meets your needs, but doesn’t frustrate your volunteers?
There’s a reason why PowerPoint is the go-to solution for the vast majority of churches in the United States, according to a recent Sharefaith survey. PowerPoint’s low cost combined with its familiar interface makes it a comfortable environment for most users. Despite its inherent advantages, however, PowerPoint has the disadvantage of limited features for use in a worship setting. Nonetheless, as far as comfortability goes, PowerPoint takes the cake.
What’s the best solution?
If you’re looking for a solution to the presentation software issue, hopefully you’ve gained some clarity from this guide. Our presentation software solution, Sharefaith Presenter, is the single system that best meets the needs of most churches, providing them with the features they need, at a price they can afford, and with a familiar interface that they can easily manage.
- Capability: Sharefaith Presenter is packed with features that most churches crave, but that PowerPoint simply can’t provide.
- Cost: At $99, Sharefaith Presenter is a jaw-dropping low price, especially compared to the not-so-cheap alternatives.
- Comfortability: Because it is a PowerPoint plugin, Sharefaith retains the easy interface of PowerPoint, while enhancing it with the customized high-end features of full-fledged presentation software.
In today’s church ministry environment, it’s important to consider the impact and importance of media. Sharefaith Presenter provides a solution that churches need, allowing them to better focus on the glorious task of sharing Christ with the world.