Do you want to improve your church's media program, but don't really know where to start? Are you looking at subscribing to a church media website, but aren't really sure which one is best for your church? Well recently I made a post mentioning some very brief differences between CreationSwap, ShareFaith, and Graceway Media. I decided that I would do some research and bring you an in-depth analysis between all three. While this post is titled ShareFaith vs. Graceway Media, I wanted to feature CreationSwap's benefits as well. It is not something that you would necessarily join, while the other two require a membership fee, which is why we're focusing on them. This will be a completely unbiased approach considering I have only recently been exposed to all three. I have developed no loyalties to any particular one of them, however I have used material from each one. We will take a look at elements such as: cost, design quality, customization, and features. My goal is to save you the time of having to do the research, yet still being able to make an intelligent decision about what is right for your church.
We will begin with CreationSwap. I will analyze each one separately, and then will compare them in the end. This is their stated purpose: "Search royalty-free stock photos, church bulletins, sermon art, logos and more shared freely or sold by Christian artists worldwide. Also, visit our Network to connect with artists, view portfolios or post jobs free."
The biggest question on everyone's mind is: How much is this going to cost me? CreationSwap is the only one of these three media companies that offers free downloads. They also include many designs that you must purchase if you desire to use them. All of the print material including postcards, bulletins, banners, and invitations require payment of some form. Cost differs based upon the item you are purchasing. They offer a free "membership," though everything is available whether you sign-up or not.
The second biggest question you probably want to know besides cost is: How good are their materials? Because of the nature of the website, quality is hit or miss. Designers are able to create their own stuff and upload it for your use. You may find some really great designs, and then again you may not see much you like at all. I would check this site at least once a week to browse what new designs have come along and see if anything can be useful to you.
After you've picked a design, you probably want to know how easy it is to customize it for you church? If you are Photoshop savvy, some of the downloads come with PSD files that allow editing. Others only supply JPG image files making them impossible to edit text and customize for your church unless you have some advanced photo editing skills.
• Free downloads
• Printing Network
• Community Discussion and Blog Posts
• Critiques on Design Concepts
• Ability to Sell Your Artwork
One of the most valuable tools for a designer, besides the downloads themselves, is the critiques offered to designs. Even if you don't post your own designs to receive feedback, you can take a look at what some designers have created and what others are saying about it. this offers valuable insight to improve your designs for maximum effectiveness.
ShareFaith's "About" statement is a little too long to post here, but the essence of it is found toward the beginning: "In order to provide the best solutions in church digital media, our goal is to partner with churches and ministries, providing technology solutions and communication tools that will enable them to communicate the gospel more effectively." For more about them, visit their About page.
Their regular price is stated at $149/yr, per their join page, however, right now they have a special going on offering 15% if you join within a certain time. Meaning that as of the time of this writing, the price to join is $126.65/yr. They offer no free material on a normal basis, but they do offer a 10-day free trial. The limitations of that free trial are listed on their website. You can download an unlimited numbers of files during your trial, but only one sermon media loop, and websites are restricted to members only.
As a designer, my personal opinion of ShareFaith is that their design work is average or a little above average. Some of it looks good, while others seem too busy. A missionary friend of mine designed a poster based off of one of ShareFaith's backgrounds and then asked me to spice it up a little bit. I ended up throwing the whole thing out and starting from scratch by buying a stock image and creating it all in Photoshop.
This is a big plus for ShareFaith. Open any one of their Powerpoint files and you will see how many different variations of blank slide backgrounds they have available for you to use, as well as some different in service announcement files. You can download the Powerpoint itself, or a ZIP file to get the raw JPGs and edit them yourself.
• Sermon Powerpoints
• Videos and Media Clips
• Website Templates
• Tips & Ideas
• And more...
ShareFaith is the one place where you will find everything that you could possibly need for your church. They even offer a comparison chart their website that includes Graceway Media. However, the one thing this chart does not talk about is Design Quality, which is Graceway Media's biggest plus.
Graceway's stated history is "Graceway Media began in 2006 as PowerPoint Sermons, providing sermon titles and designs. The goal was to assist pastors with the presentation of their sermon, giving them quality designs and a selection to choose from. Since then, our passion for helping churches preach, teach and present the Gospel has led us to move beyond sermons and include designs for worship, specific ministries, special events, holidays and more to help the church with all aspects of design needs."
The cost for a Graceway Media membership is $249/yr for Stills or Motion graphics separately and a shocking $399/yr for their Total Media package. They do offer a free trial membership that gives you access to 24 of their design styles. Besides that, Graceway Media is by far the most expensive of the group.
Here is where Graceway Media shines. One glimpse at their designs will have you drooling for more. Each design includes a large sermon title, a Powerpoint slide with sermon title in the corner, and a blank Powerpoint slide. The motion graphics are HD quality that don't possess that cheap look some of the free media loop places have. My initial thought of the price was steep, but after seeing their graphics I could almost rationalize purchasing a membership for such great quality.
Graceway also offers the best customization system. They offer you the blank slide (as was already mentioned), PSD files for those who can change the graphics themselves, and a Retitling service for those who cannot change the slides themselves. But, as would be expected when looking at the price tag, they charge a small amount for this service. They do not state their credit price out in the open, but offer 10 free credits upon joining that they boast is a $50 value, meaning that you would be paying $5/slide.
• HD Stills
• HD Motion Graphics
Graceway is a little low of the features, limiting their work to Sermon graphics and worship video loops.
So Who Wins?
As whole, to me, Graceway Media feels like a more personal ministry. They have a picture of there whole team posted on their website that puts faces to the ministry. Since signing up for their free trial, I have been contacted twice asking how I was liking it and if I was interested in signing up for membership. But I honestly can't speak for ShareFaith since I do not personally have an account, though my church does. Well let's start tallying up the points and see who wins.
CreationSwap is free, for the most part, and so you should be visiting this website on a normal basis looking for what you can use. If you find something you like that costs some money, feel free to pay for it if you like, but you'll be paying individually for each item. Between the two membership sites, ShareFaith wins the Cost award.
Graceway Media takes home this award. I've looked at a lot of church media resource websites and GraceWay Media beats them all. Nothing is sharper or better designed that the material at Graceway.
This is a tie between ShareFaith and Graceway. ShareFaith offers plenty of materials for customizing your own materials, but that's it. Graceway offers a more sophisticated Retitling service, but it's going to cost you each time you want it done. For this reason, they each receive one point.
ShareFaith easily takes the gold for features. Their own chart, listed above, makes that evident. ShareFaith is the total church media package that has everything you will ever need.
ShareFaith wins over Graceway Media 3 to 2, unless you include the friendliness of Graceway into the mix, then it's a tie 3 to 3. The cold hard truth is that ShareFaith is cheaper and many churches need cheaper. They also offer more features, so for the church that's on a budget, ShareFaith is the only choice that's even feasible. However, if your church can afford to spend a little extra, you will get far better design quality from Graceway Media. Oh, and don't forget that regardless of who you are, you should be visiting CreationSwap for the latest freebies.