Setting Up a Church Projection System

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January 18, 2013

Setting Up a Church Projection System

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Using video and motion backgrounds is a constantly growing trend for churches and worship groups, but initiating this type of project can be a little overwhelming. We’ve put together a little check list of sorts to help get you started and answer some of those daunting questions.

What You Need

If you want to start incorporating video into your worship service, there are a few fundamental supplies you need to get your hands on first.

  • A Projector. Have a budget? Great! Buy one on Amazon. Don’t have a budget? Reach out to local libraries or schools to see if you can borrow or rent one.
  • A computer. It can be a PC, a Mac, a laptop or a desktop. You can make anything work!
  • Cables. We’ll have a whole section on picking the right one later on.
  • Software. We’ll get to this later on, too.

Picking the Layout for Your Space

Keep the size of your space in mind when you’re setting up your video space. While you may have seen some really sweet three screen setups at a large church down the road, your one room sanctuary may require something a little more subtle. The best way to figure out what YOUR church needs is to try sitting in every seat in the house. Look at the different perspectives and try to determine one central location for your projection screen. Make sure it’s not too close to anyone, and that it can be viewed from all angles.

Once you’ve determined where you want to project your video, you need to find a place for the projector to go. There are a few things to keep in mind here. You obviously need to test the limits of your projector and put in a place that is far enough away from the screen that you can use minimal cables to connect it to your computer, but close enough that you still get a nice, crisp picture.

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Picking the Right Cables

There are a few different types of cables you can use to connect your projector to your computer. Each has its own pros and cons:


HDMI cables are probably the most popular cables. It is a single connector that carries both audio and video. Though these are pretty dependable and easy to use, they lose signal after about 32 feet. If your projector is further away from your computer you’ll need a balun (basically a booster) to keep the signal going.


A DVI can reach a farther distance, but all DVIs are a little different so you need to be aware of what your projector and computer can handle. Some are purely digital, while others can send both a digital and an analog signal. This is the most flexible of your options, but you may have to get some different types of adapters to make it work perfectly with your system.


VGA is also known as RBG-HV. This type of cable carries an analog signal, but is ideal for large rooms where a digital signal may not survive. You can get VGA cables that run as far as 100 feet, so if you’re in a big space this is most definitely a good choice for you.

Picking the Right Software

There are plenty of different software options out there for you. Here’s some of our favorites (organized by budget) and a little bit about the media that they’re compatible with.

Free (or almost free) Software

PowerPoint is a slide show tool that comes with the Microsoft Office Suite. It is available for both PCs and Macs. While it doesn’t have any specific bells and whistles designed for churches, its wide spread availability makes it a popular choice for churches. PowerPoint works best with .wmv files.

Windows Movie Maker is a simple video editor that comes standard on most PCs. It will allow you to add basic text, music and transitions to your presentation. Windows Movie Maker works well with .wmv files.

iMovie is the Apple version of Windows Movie Maker. This program comes standard on all Apple computers and is very user friendly. iMovie will allow you to edit simple videos, as well as add text, music and transitions. This program works best with .mov files.

Keynote is the Apple version of PowerPoint. It allows for simple slide show presentations and has customization features such as animations and video embedding. Keynote works best with .mov video files.

Easy Worship is a multimedia tool that was designed specifically for worship presentations. It easily allows you to incorporate Bible verses and song lyrics without ever leaving the application. Easy Worship works best with .wmv and .avi video files.

Church Specific (and typically NOT free) Presentation Software

Easy Worship is a multimedia tool that was designed specifically for worship presentations. It easily allows you to incorporate Bible verses and song lyrics without ever leaving the application. Easy Worship works best with .wmv and .avi video files.

Similar to Easy Worship, ProPresenter was created specifically for church media. It has great features like allowing you to edit upcoming slides without disrupting the slide being shown on the projector.

Media Shout is a very user friendly church worship software that is designed for creating slides, hosting video and presenting countdowns. It is available for both Mac and PC and is compatible with .wmv and .mov files.

Song Show Plus is particularly good at presenting worship song lyrics through its easy to use interface. They offer multiple plug ins and extra features so you can customize the program to meet your organization’s specific needs. Song Show Plus is compatible with .wmv and .avi files.

Worship Him is an affordable yet affective presentation tools designed for church use. Different licensing agreements allows your organization to customize the software and only pay for what you need. Worship Him only works on Windows computer and is best compatible with .avi files.


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