A pastor in Austin, Texas, prompted artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to write an entire Sunday service for a Methodist church.
Pastor Jay Cooper used the AI prompt to write a 15-minute service used at the progressive Methodist Violet Crown City Church in north Austin, Texas, TimCast reported.
“ChatGPT kicked out about a 15-minute service, like a shotgun sermon, an outline,” Cooper said. “It’s very clear that a human element is still needed. I had to fill out the service with additional prompts and add a couple prompts to the sermon to kind of beef it up.”
“There’s so many different applications for AI,” he continued. “I just had the idea, ‘What would it look like to incorporate this into a worship service?’”
The pastor explained that he wanted to hold the AI-led service to force worshipers to question "what is sacred?" and whether or not AI can communicate truth.
“A big question that comes up to me as we let AI lead worship is can a prayer written by artificial intelligence in some way communicate truth? Can you experience God through that?” Cooper questioned. “Perhaps something resonates with them and then it opens their mind to, maybe I’m not looking for the sacred enough in the rest of the world.”
However, at least one church attendee told The Hill that the sermon was missing a human element. Ernest Chamber heard the AI-generated preaching and said it failed to communicate kindness and empathy.
“I’m not sure that AI can actually express the emotions of love and kindness and empathy,” Chambers said. “I think that we must practice love and express that. Not only feel it, but we must express it.”
Cooper agreed that the sermon was missing "the human touch," which he said is "critical in life and in ministry."
The Violet Crown City Church is a pro-"LGBTQIA+" church that states on its website that all "gender identities" need to "resist" "oppression."
"United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities [are equipped] to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves."
"As children created uniquely and beautifully in the very image and likeness of God, we believe that our sexual orientation and gender identity are given to us as a gift," the site goes on. "Therefore, our community commits itself to being a safe and welcoming place in Austin for all and to working for full inclusion in the global United Methodist Church for our LGBTQIA+ siblings."
Pastor Cooper noted that he does not plan to use AI to write a service again in the future.
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