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Is Presentation Software for You?
By: Nate Ragan

It was just more than a decade ago that many of us were using overhead projectors and transparencies to display lyrics for our church services.

The songs were often displayed off-center and with the silhouette of someone's mysterious hand moving the sheet up as the end of the song neared.

Thankfully, we've come a long way since then.

Many congregations have upgraded to either a business presentation package, like PowerPoint, or a tool specifically tailored to the church, like MediaShout or EasyWorship.

Customized Tools
The creative worship technology process for many churches doesn't merely start and stop at the sanctuary's media booth.

Many times, the person building and delivering the visual worship presentation may collect materials from the worship leader, teaching pastor, and administrative assistant, as well as a host of others, depending on specific needs for the week.

Announcements, sermon notes, Bible verses, and song lyrics generally come from many sources, created with multiple applications available on most office computers. Those applications often don't include presentation tools.

In light of this, ministry presentation software packages include many of the tools necessary for content creation, as well as the features you will need to present to your audience.

The Basics
Song lyrics, Bible verses, and sermon notes often make up the majority of ministry presentations, and, to that end, worship presentation software includes simple tools to make these elements easier to use on a continual basis.

Text tools provide rich-text editing for any custom announcements or sermon notes. Bible libraries, searchable by passage or keyword, keep on-screen Scriptures painless and error-free.

Finally, song lyric features provide easy recall of previously used songs, as well as tools for importing lyrics from a step-by-step wizard, your own text files, CCLI's SongSelect Lyric Service, and, in some cases, a PowerPoint Import tool.

Slide Into Worship Lyrics
A large number of new worship presentation users are beginning their journey with a library of PowerPoint files that have been the mainstay of their creative worship tech. The moving process has required either an application-switching cut-and-paste process or grabbing default lyrics from SongSelect, losing any custom lyric tweaks and play order.

Some worship presentation tools provide a process for importing your own PowerPoint slides into the song library, ready for immediate use.

Simply choose the slides you'd like to import, select and tag the text you'd like to use for title, author, copyright, chorus, verse, and bridge, and you're ready to go.

You can even save the PowerPoint backgrounds you haveve used as individual graphic files for use in your new song lyrics.

See It On Stage
One of the most-requested features in the past couple of years has been the ability to have an additional display of song lyrics, etc. for the on-stage worship team.

Although intricate motion-backs with lyrics look great on the big screen, they don't always translate well to confidence monitors.

In addition, many churches have started to display only two to three lines of on-screen text in order to maximize phrasing and visual appeal, which is, again, not great for the worship team.

As a solution, many software developers have implemented a feature for a Stage Display. Utilizing a third output, Stage Display provides text from the main output (and/or your own custom text) over a simple black background, giving a very clean look for your worship team.

In addition to the on-screen or custom text, many Stage Display features provide the first line of the next stanza as a footnote. And, for the truly adventurous, some worship teams have begun adding chord charts to their Stage Display lyrics, minimizing the need for music stands.

Packed and Ready to Go
Now that we've looked at solutions for creating presentations from external resources and simplifying your on-stage lyric display, what about the ministry already using worship presentation tools throughout all departments on multiple computers?

Churches with multiple licenses often create various parts of weekly presentations on multiple computers and must combine these elements onto the main presentation computer.

To simplify this process, many developers have created tools for making this process much easier. You can create your entire presentation on one computer, pack all the files up into a nice folder, and open it on your presentation computer on Sunday morning.

If you're not using any presentation software, or you're only using PowerPoint, you're missing out on significant opportunities to simplify and streamline your creation process, as well as dramatically enhance your presentations.

Media presentation tools for the church come with dozens of tools custom designed to help you communicate life's most important message with your audience.

While tools like PowerPoint do handle the basics of presenting slides, church presentation tools change the game entirely with all the custom options available.

Some of those tools include dozens of versions of the Bible, access to CCLI's vast song database, and other features that mean the days of hurriedly typing in your pastor's Scripture or the new song at the last minute are gone.

In short, ministry presentation software will shorten your prep time and enhance your Sunday service. And, who doesn't want that?

Nate Ragan is director of product development and training for MediaComplete, www.mediashout.com

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