You want to get started with media ministry, but with the basic software adding up to $50+ a month, how do small churches enter the game? Are there free alternatives to software we use in church?
In today’s video, we’re showing you the best free alternatives to the software you need for media ministry.
TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch)
We’ve grown into a time of SaaS, or, Software As A Service. You no longer have to spend thousands of dollars to get a software, but you do have to commit to a monthly charge.
A few apps and services may be no big deal, but you’ll see a big hit to your budget after you start juggling 10 or more payments.
And what about when you don’t have a media budget at all?
One of the biggest questions we get in the Church Media Hacks group is, “How can we do this without a budget?”
I.E. How can you play the church media game for free?
We want to introduce you to our friend, Open Source Software.
What Is Open Source Software?
Open Source Software is software that some person or organization created and released under the GNU license.
A GNU license means you can’t take a software and repackage it to sell it. You can make any changes you want but you can’t charge for the software. The software is always free.
Open Source Software has been around since the 1980s, where you would pick it up on a floppy disk).
You’ll find Open Source Software to cover just about anything you need from word processing, audio mixing, even accounting!
So here are our favorite Open Source Software for your church.
Libre Office – Microsoft Office Alternative
Libre Office actually evolved out of another open source software, Open Office. And it is slick.
Here’s what we love about Libre Office…
- Alternatives for Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and Access.
- Libre Office will read and write most Office file types
- It’s updated often
Download Libre Office at libreoffice.org/
GIMP – Photoshop Alternative
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. For all intents and purposes, it’s a clone of Photoshop. If you already know how to use Photoshop, you’ll see that 90% of GIMP looks and functions exactly the same.
Here’s what we love about GIMP…
- Operates the same as Photoshop…I.E. your workflow will look the same
- Integrates with Scribus and Inkscape (see below)
- They have an active community that builds plugins to keep it ever-expanding
Download GIMP at gimp.org
Inkscape – Illustrator Alternative
Vector illustration is what you need to be making posters and banners with. But instead of paying $50/mo for Adobe Creative Suite with Illustrator, you can get Inkscape for free.
Here’s what we love about Inkscape…
- Pro vectoring tools to do all the same drawing as Illustrator
- Creates perfect SVG files as well as PNG, EPS, PDF, and other formats
Download Inkscape at inkscape.org
Scribus – InDesign & Publisher Alternative
While Publisher is a fine tool to use for your newsletters and bulletins, all your publications will have that amateur look to them. So you want a pro publishing tool.
As with Illustrator, InDesign is another service you have to pay for. So instead, you can use Scribus, an open source publishing tool.
Here’s what we love about Scribus:
- Easily create professional-looking publications with all the layout tools you need
- You can see their portfolio and judge yourself
Download Scribus at scribus.net
RawTherapee – Lightroom Alternative
When you get that new fancy DSLR camera, you still need software to edit your pictures.
Not only that, but you want to shoot RAW, meaning you take all the data into your camera and develop it later.
Normally you’d use Lightroom to develop your RAW photos, but RawTherapee will do the job for free.
Here’s what we love about RawTherapee:
- High-quality, non-destructive editing
- All the color handling you find in Lightroom to tweak your photos the way you need
- Supports virtually all DSLR cameras and raw files
- Integrates with GIMP
Download RawTherapee at rawtherapee.com
HitFilm Express – Premiere and Final Cut Alternative
The makers of HitFilm are editors themselves. So knowing what everyone needs to properly edit a video, they build their own software called HitFilm. And the Express version is free to use with most of the features from the full software.
Here’s what we love about HitFilm Express:
- Non-linear editing just like Premiere
- Includes some After Effects features like particle acceleration and 3D modeling
- Free video tutorials on their site
- They even have free masterclasses with project files to grow your skills LINK
Download HitFilm Express at fxhome.com/express
Can Open Source Software Completely Replace The “Real Thing?”
If you use all of the above software, you can totally and completely avoid paying for Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office.
While it may be nice to have the “name-brand” apps and services, you have to ask, do you really need it? You can write letters and make bulletins just as well without spending the money.
Eventually when you grow, you may need advanced features such as real-time collaboration. But again, you don’t need to hamstring your limited budget to get these advanced features when it’s just you or a few people in the church office.
So yes, open source software can completely replace the apps and services that cost money. You may not want to use them forever, but don’t feel like you’re getting half a product. These open source softwares are fully fleshed out and continue to get better over time.
Audacity – Audition Alternative
Audacity has been around for a long time. If you need to edit audio, trim sermons, or tweak levels and noise, Audacity can do it all for free.
Here’s what we love about Audacity:
- All the recording and exporting capabilities you need
- While the main software can do a lot of audio editing, there are plugins available to expand its capabilities
- Very efficient and runs fast on any machine (perfect if you have to edit sermons on a decade-old computer)
Download Audacity at audacityteam.org
Blender – After Effects Alternative
Someone watching live asked about an After Effects alternative. (NOTE: When you watch live on Fridays at 11:45am, you can ask questions and get answers in real-time)
Blender started off as an open source alternative to 3ds Max. But over time it’s evolved to have many of the capabilities as After Effects.
We haven’t used it, but if you want to try it out, download Blender at blender.org
What About Support?
You sit with the entirety of human knowledge at your fingertips. So if you have a question on these softwares, chances are someone’s made an article or tutorial for you.
Additionally, many Open Source Software websites have a knowledge base, forums, and active communities to answer your questions.
Lack of budget is not an excuse anymore. You have the ability to create professional video, audio, and written publications now for FREE with Open Source Software.
You no longer have to take out your own credit card or beg for money from the financial committee. Download these apps NOW and start making professional media like we do.
So think about a software you want but can’t afford. If it’s not on this list, do a Google search for the product and add “open source” at the end. You may be surprised what’s out there…
Do you use any of these softwares or have another favorite Open Source Software? Let us know in the comments below!