How to organize the files used for making a sldeshow for a church service

In many churches, one of the main ways to encourage people to sing is to show them the words of the songs or hymns being used.

If you do this using leaflets or slides (PowerPoint etc), then you need to make a new master leaflet or slide-set for each service.

Some people make the leaflet or slideshow is by typing up the the words each time they are needed, or by copy-and-pasting from the last time they used the particular hymn.  However:
  • Typing songs again and again isn't good use of your time, and there is a high chance that you will have mistakes.
  • It may be hard to find the file from the last time you used a particular song - and maybe you used different verses on that day
  • It can be hard to get the formatting consistent across all the slides if you're typing them manually.

An alternative it to use a song-library to make worship-aids. With this approach, you organise the files on your computer like this:

1    Make a "library" of files, putting one song or prayer per file (think of these as master files)

2    Make a set of templates, one for each type of service
(You make like to download some templates from as a starting point:   many congregations customize these to meet local needs, and work from their own templates.)

3  For each service,
  • Make a new file for the service (based on the template), and 
  • For each song, hymn or prayer, "include" it from the library into the file you are making for the service.

Advantages of this approach:

Consistency:  get a hymn right in the library, and it will be correct every time you use it.

Speed:  with practice, it's possible to assemble the slideshow for a Mass with all parts sung in about 10 minutes, once you have the list of service music, hymns and verses being used.

Professional "look":  by using the formatting and template features in your slideshow or word-processing tools, you can make a workship aid which is not distracting and which lets people focus on the content.

How it works in practise:

The following steps describe one way of organising the files on your computer when you are applying the "make your worship aid from a library" approach, and how this works as you make the files you need for each service.

1)  Have separate folders (aka directories) for Songs and Prayers

And a folder for Templates

Add folders for Current and Previous service files:

Putting them all together, your file system looks like this:

2  To prepare for a service:

Start with a template

Include the Songs and Prayers that you need.  For detailed information about this step, see:
Or if you use a different program, see your instruction manual.

Do any other preparation that is needed

For example removing reminder-slides from the file, selecting which verses to include, adding extra slides of items that you don't normally have).

5 After each service, "clean up" by removing or archiving the files for that service.

The suggestions above are one way to organise the electronic files that are used to make hymn leaflets and worship aids.   They are not the "only" solution - it really doesn't matter how you organise your files - so long as everyone on the team understands how you work and the job gets done each week.

But the approach suggested has been developed to help with exercising good stewardship in managing your music team's time and effort.

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