Small communities that don’t have a big budget but do want to enjoy the benefits of church software can consider free packages a convenient solution. There is a very wide variety from which to choose from, from audio and video helpers, directory management programs, phone book and picture organizers, and many, many more. The main disadvantage of free software is that it doesn’t offer as many fancy features as the ones that cost money, but the money that you save compensates this drawback 100%. These programs are just one-click away as there are many sites nowadays that put the software at the public’s disposal. You just download the ones that best suits your needs, without having to take a walk to the store. Some of the programs are executables, so that means you just download the file(s) to a directory of your choice and, after extracting the files, run the batch file (.bat extension) that installs the application. Usually programs come with a documentation that explains in detail the installation steps.
In order to compare free church applications one must know what features each of them have to offer. The more complex applications combine two or more features while keeping a nice, user-friendly interface that allows the program to be used by a wide range of people, not only by computer literates. If you are not sure what to look for or you don’t have very much time to spend researching websites, we can help you by presenting the types of free software available at the moment and where you can download them from. Simpler church software usually falls into one of these categories:
Audio and Multimedia
There are special church software applications, most commonly knwon as 'Photo Directories', that allow you to create professional looking directories in no time and manage church listings, add people from your congregations, their contact information, birthday details and other useful information. This way it's easier to provide information on your church to site visitors and to keep the membership management. Download from here.
Audio and Video Tools
You can choose to begin each day with a Scripture reading or a church song with special audio file players like 'Proverb-a-Day' for Windows. There are also a variety of programs for helping you study the Bible in a more systematic way, for example 'AGES Software Demo of the Master Christian Library CD', e-SWORD or BiblePro. The CDs and DVDs include the most popular Bibles and fast search engines to easily look-up references and commentaries. With user-friendly interfaces and feature-rich capabilities, these software packages are designed especially for students and beginners who want to study the Bible but find it a bit overwhelming. The CDs contain a growing collection of over 200 texts and 15,000 verserts in 5 to 50 different languages.
Lyric Projection Software
If your church has a projector and you want to use it to display lyrics, you can opt for one of the free church software solutions instead of the old PowerPoint. Easy to use software is now designed for managing lyrics, chords, lead sheets, overheads and computer projections. You can try one of OpenSong's releases for Windows, MAC-OSX or Linux operating systems that comes with lyric translation in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and other common foreign languages. Some other good options are OpenLP, Higher PowerPoint and VpsX, which include thumbnail-driven slide navigation, easy show preview/switching, creating on-the-fly slides from lyrics, scripture, PowerPoint, etc, and have an integrated web library to aid worship leaders' planning.
Database administration tools
Maybe the most common type of church software availble online, this application gives you an easy way to manage, track, and organize data of a small church. Most of them have an intuitive interface for people who are not familiar with databases. The ready-to-use church member management solutions make it easy to install and use. Many of them also include calendar for the staff and church. The versions that cost money are suplemented with a spreadsheet wizard for easily exporting data to Microsoft Excel. You can try the CHBD Church Database (see the image below).
Open Source Solutions
If you choose to create a website for your church you can choose one of the free open source solutions that are very easy to deploy and use. Here are some examples:
'Church Website in a Box' is a MySQL/PHP content management system designed to be easily deployed and used by any church. All content management and configuration can be done using a web browser. It can be downloaded from here.
. Paristemi (named after a greek word which means to present) is anfully-customizable, database driven Open Source solution designed especially for churches and non-profit organizations. For the web administrator it offers: secure data and manipulation, spam prevention measures, integrated Google & Web search along with Bible and specific database search, Bible Gateway and Paypal integration. On the website, the user will be able to see announcements, current events, library catalog, prayer requests, ministries, worship music and a daly Bible verset. You can found out more information about Paristemi and download it from its website: http://www.paristemi.com/.
Church Software is a multi-feature application used to display Bible verses, Worship Songs, PowerPoints, Videos, Birthdays and Wedding anniversaries to the projector and to make church administration easy in any supported language. It can be downloaded here.