Advances in computer technology, in the form of software and web-based worship service planning resources, have dramatically advanced just about every aspect of worship service planning in recent years. Some bemoan that the technological advances suppress spontaneity of the worship experience, but it would appear most worship leaders have embraced the technology at their disposal, as they are used extensively in most churches today.
Excellence in worship leadership doesn't just happen. It takes time and hard work.
Those who have the responsibility of producing worship services must artfully combine all elements of worship that a congregation will experience, including music; chord charts, music streaming, and popular songs, Church Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), audio; loops and tracks, visual; lighting and screen presentation and logistics; and online planning tools. This task is easier today because of the myriad of tools that are available to assist them, to fit within just about every budget, from the small church to the megachurch.
Understand that the products mentioned here do not represent an endorsement of those products. At the same time, any other resources available on the market not mentioned, should not be construed as a vote of no confidence in those products, but time and space do not allow exploring each one of them.
Collectively, all links and resources listed are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather, selective.
The breakdown below also seeks to take into account which products would fit within small and large budgets, for a church of every size. Product costs have been chosen not to be listed here, even though that information can be easily found on each of the product's respective websites.
OpenSong: A free, open-source software application created to manage lyrics, chords, lead sheets, overheads, computer projection, and more.
OpenLP: A feature rich open-source church presentation platform created for use in churches large and small.
PowerPoint: View, edit, or create impactful presentations wherever you are, with an intuitive touch experience designed for phones and tablets.
ShareFaith Presenter: A PowerPoint plugin that transforms PowerPoint into a full-fledged worship presentation software.
EasyWorship: Create the service you want with stunning backgrounds for worship and eye-catching sermon videos from our media store.
ProPresenter: The definitive choice in worship and presentation software for churches, schools, businesses, presentations, and concerts.
MediaShout: Give your church the best presentations with MediaShout6. Compare MediaShout6 to other church presentation software and see how easy it is to start presenting your sermons and worship services with the most robust church software on the planet.
Medium to Large Churches
As described above, either EasyWorship, ProPresenter or MediaShout would be applicable here.
Planning Center Online: Putting together a worship service shouldn't feel like a circus. If you're juggling music prep, volunteer scheduling, or service planning, Planning Center has apps made just for you.
Proclaim: powerful features, and ever-expanding Pro Media library of 10,000-plus motions and stills, and 50GB of storage for sermon publishing.
ProPresenter: As described above.
As described above, either Planning Center Online, Proclaim or ProPresenter would serve churches with such a budget.
Some web-based worship planning systems will allow you to try their product free of charge and will structure pricing, based on the size of your congregation. One such solution is QuickWorship.
The following is a selection guide to help you consider the dynamics of owning, using and integrating all software available to your ministry:
Instruction Manual: Is there a manual available online?
Training: Is there a training guide to use as your church tech staff changes?
Support: Is there online tech support?
Controls: How easy is the software to use? Can you reassign keys? Can you show different screens on two or more projectors simultaneously?
Song Lyric Technical Features: Can you repeat the chorus or specified line or add a new song "on the fly"?
Graphic/Font Integration: Will the software handle all the graphic formats that you need? (JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, TIF, etc.)
Movie/Animation/Video Integration: Will the software work with the movie formats that you need? (WMV, MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, MOV, Flash, etc.)
Audio: Does the software allow integration/playing of Mp3, WAV, etc.?
Bible Text Features: If you plan to use the software to show scripture text, does the software provide the versions of the scriptures that you want to use?
Service Planning/Integration: Does the software allow for printing of service schedules? Does the software permit automated CCLI data recording?
PowerPoint Integration: Is it important to you that this software easily integrates PowerPoint presentations?
Auxiliary Features: Do you need "Nursery Call" features? (The ability to show some text or numbers at the side of the screen without interrupting the presentation)
Specialty Features: Does the software have a teleprompter feature?
Music Features: Do you need the ability to show chords or another musical notation?
Costs: Does the software have different levels of cost? Is there a free version? Is the cost a "one time cost," or are you buying a subscription?
Do your computers function using the Apple or Windows operating system?
Do you have the appropriate computer system to run the software?
Does your computer support the video resolutions required?
In closing, I believe that most worship leaders would agree that there is wisdom in preparing for worship. Quoting contemporary Christian music artist and worship leader Chris Tomlin (paraphrasing) Excellence in worship leadership doesn't just happen. It takes time and hard work. Commit to be prepared. Then, when you gather for worship, lead with confidence.