Free Computer Programs for Small Church Digital Media Creation

Technology has always been a favorite hobby of mine.  So much, that I teach it to others.  With that, I’ve come across some great tools for ministry and small churches (even larger ones would benefit.  I’ve actually wrote about several tools before (Check them out here).  Some of these are new finds for me.  Several of these programs are called opensource software.  Which means that the code behind the program is available for people to read and edit.  These programs mimic high-end programs, but were usually intended for those wanting to learn coding or wanted to create there variations to the programs they want.  While I can read and edit the code, my biggest attraction to these programs is they are free, work great, and provide a lot of practical use to digital media creation.  So here is a quick reference guide for the software, it’s use, my review, where to get tutorials, and the link to download (download at your own risk).  The first four are opensource, the last ones are web-based and do not require a download, just an internet browser (I use Google Chrome).

Graphic Design – Inkscape

Info & Review:  If you want to design logos, posters, other artwork, and some photo manipulation, Inkscape is a great option.  The comparable software to Inkscape is Adobe Illustrator.  Inkscape is a very powerful and polished software in this comparison.  I love it and have used both of these software.  I have used Inkscape more and will go with it over Illustrator.  It is simple to use after if you follow the built-in guide and watch the tutorials.

Best tutorial(s): Logos by Nick on Youtube.


Photo Editing – GIMP

Info & Review: GIMP is the parallel to Adobe’s Photoshop.  You may use some free/paid apps on your smart device to edit your photos, but if you want professional photographer level capabilities, then these programs are the way to go.  GIMP does have a little bit more of a learning curve than Inkscape, or its own comparable software in Photoshop.  Still, you can’t beat free and once you learn the basics of GIMP, it is another powerful program for photo editing, posters, and some graphic design.

Best tutorial(s):  Again, Logos by nick on Youtube.


Publishing – Scribus

Info & Review:  If you are focusing solely on bulletins, posters, cards, and other creative documents, Scribus might help you.  Scribus is the opensource version to Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign.  It is not as powerful as those programs in my opinion.  However, it will do on a small budget if you are wanting more options than a Word document might give you.

Best tutorial(s): Tutorials on Youtube and the main website for scribus.


Audio Editing – Audacity

Info & Review:  There are a lot of powerful and paid-for software for audio editing.  Audacity is a gold standard for both the free and paid alternatives.  I have used Adobe Audition and Presonus interfaces with Studio One software.  Audacity is a great place to start if you need some basic recordings made and convert them to MP3 files later (sermons on website or other ministry options like CD’s).  There are lots of effects and tools to make some clean recordings.  The only thing you would need to pay for is the hardware to get sound.  However, if you have a smart phone, chances are you can record with it, load it to your computer and edit with Audacity.

Best tutorial(s):  The main website and Youtube.


Websites – Wix

Info & Review:  Adobe has a software for building websites called Dreamweaver.  I’ve not used it but have it on my computer, haha!  I have used browser-based platforms because of ease of use and the ability to have domain and hosting all in one.  With most of these you can build your website and launch it for free, but to have better options, you will go up different levels for payment.  I’ve used GoDaddy and WordPress (my personal site) but for the church I have really taken a liking to Wix.  It’s easy to use, up to date, and fairly cheap once you want to pay for the domain name.

Best tutorial(s): The website has a walk through tutorial and other available.  It is also helpful to look at other church websites to get ideas of what to include.



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