By David May
If you’re not familiar with church presentation software, you probably wonder if there’s a better way to display lyric slides, scripture text, and other media for your services. Maybe you’ve not even thought about software for the purpose of church projection being available. Well, it is available and has been for quite some time!
Royce Gray from MediaShout, the first church presentation software ever developed, says, “We were on the road with Josh McDowell and Acquire the Fire events, and we needed a way to show slides in any order. We didn’t always know what was coming next. We didn’t know of anything like that, so we decided to develop our own.”
After he and some others developed MediaShout for their events, they started demonstrating it at conferences. It was a huge hit, and youth pastors and church leaders from all over flocked to it.
Many churches changed to dedicated projection software from using PowerPoint, overhead slide projectors, or even just hymnals—and it dramatically changed the way they used media to support their services. Other companies like ProPresenter and EasyWorship followed suit to create similar offerings, and a whole industry was born.
The key difference in church presentation software and PowerPoint or similar solutions is a dedicated “control screen” to jump around in a presentation instead of just advancing straight down a slideshow. The operator is able to keep up with what’s going on in real-time as worship leaders lead songs or pastors call out points and scripture in their messages.
Media items like videos and announcement slides are also on-demand. The congregation or audience only sees the intended presentation and not the computer desktop. This technology uses multiple video outputs from a computer to send unique images to multiple screens.
While the first iteration of the MediaShout program in 2000 only allowed an image as a background, Gray says he would tell people, “Pretty soon, we’re going to have the ability to show a waterfall moving behind the lyrics.” And not long later, it would come to pass as motion backgrounds were introduced.
Some churches took a while to adjust to using screens instead of hymnals, but now the majority of churches both large and small are using church presentation software to enhance their worship times. As someone involved in ministry, you’ve probably seen how the use of media has evolved since those days.
In fact, when Gray walks into churches or conferences today and sees the beautiful imagery and video enhancing the worship environment, he is amazed at how far church presentation software has come since the term was coined nearly 20 years ago.
Church presentation software not only enhances worship services but also greatly assists pastors and church staff in their efforts to build and implement their presentations each week.
Common features include a library to store and display worship song lyrics, automated creation of scripture slides with various versions of the Bible, and editing tools for sermon notes and announcement slides. The time it takes to put together media for a service is greatly reduced when compared to creating a service in PowerPoint.
And after the presentations are created and ready to display, volunteers can be trained quickly and easily on how to run them using the features like the control screen referenced above. Volunteers can feel confident and no longer in the “hot seat” if things go out of order in the service.
With these tools to equip church staff and volunteers, an entire media ministry can be developed. The concept of media ministry, which is largely built on church presentation software as a foundation, provides a whole new avenue to serve church members and those who attend services.
Whether they are visiting the church for the first time or they have been attending for years, chances are they are used to being engaged by media outside the church.
Church presentation software simply provides the means to offer that same level of technology support to worship gatherings.
One of the key benefits of using dedicated software for this purpose is that doesn’t call attention to itself. It doesn’t distract from what is already going on in the worship service—it only enhances it. Plus, it’s designed specifically for churches.
Even so, many businesses, schools, and production companies have even started to use software options like MediaShout or ProPresenter that were designed for churches because of their many benefits for live events.
You may ask if it takes a great deal to learn how to implement and use church presentation software. The great news is, the answer is a resounding “no!” With the advances made in technology over the last 20 years, it has become easier than ever.
Both techie and non-techie pastors, worship leaders, church staff, and volunteers can start taking advantage of the benefits right away. And you’ll probably find it much easier than whatever you’ve been doing, if you aren’t using church presentation software currently.
With this information available from the top software providers in the church technology industry (many offering webinars, free trials, and dedicated customer support), there’s no reason not to jump in and start thinking about adding these tools to your ministry arsenal even today!
David May is the marketing & sales manager at MediaShout, a leading church presentation software. Version 7 is MediaShout’s newest release as of June 2019 after having launched the original church presentation software in 2000, www.mediashout.com.