I spoke to a group of high school students in the spring of 2023 and asked them how their teachers were addressing AI tools like ChatGPT. To my surprise, they had never heard of ChatGPT. In response, I just looked at their Student Pastor and said, “Sorry, man!”

Jump forward a couple months, and the situation is 100% different. By now, they have all heard of ChatGPT and other AI tools that are being rolled out almost daily. 

In our rapidly advancing world, the exponential growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an undeniable force shaping various industries. As pastors and leaders, I think it is important for us to consider how AI might impact our own roles and responsibilities.

I understand that the idea of using AI tools professionally may be a stretch for you, but I want to challenge you to go on a journey with me with an open mind. 

Understanding the Growth of AI

Before we dive into the specifics of AI’s potential role in pastoral work, let us briefly acknowledge the remarkable growth of AI in recent years. From self-driving cars to personalized virtual assistants, AI has revolutionized numerous sectors, making task completion more efficient and effective. And, yet, while AI offers immense possibilities for a variety of industries, it’s no secret that its use and implementation should be considered thoughtfully and with care.

There is a line...

As pastors and leaders, there are both spiritual and relational aspects of our job that we could outsource to AI tools. However, to do so would be a disservice to ourselves and the people we serve. For example, just because AI can write a sermon for us in under five minutes does not mean we should use the tool this way. Doing so removes sermon prep’s spiritual and relational components that make messages impactful and personable. 

So, while there are endless things AI tools can do for us, it is important to recognize that there is a line on what we should be using it for. 

That being said, what can AI do?

One way to view AI is as an administrative assistant, helping us streamline various tasks and enhance our overall effectiveness. Imagine having an AI-powered tool that can manage our schedules, analyze data for meaningful insights, and aid in sermon preparation. By delegating routine administrative duties to AI, we can free up valuable time and resources, allowing us to focus on deeper aspects of our ministry that require our unique human touch.

Embracing the Potential of AI

Let’s consider specific administrative tasks we do every week. Did you know AI can summarize articles, draft documents, analyze data, write reports, and manage schedules? Historically, these tasks have taken hours of my time, and yours, each week. But now, these can be completed in a fraction of the time. By letting AI attend to these tasks, we can focus on what truly matters. We can stay focused on nurturing relationships, guiding and supporting people in their spiritual journey, and building a vibrant community. It’s important to remember that technology, when used intentionally and thoughtfully, can enhance our work instead of replacing our calling. By using AI as a helpful assistant, we can navigate our responsibilities more strategically, ensuring that our impact as pastors continues to grow in this ever-changing world.

Getting Started with AI Tools

Using AI tools effectively is similar to using any other tool; it takes time and practice. I encourage you to sign up for a free Chat GPT account and see what it is capable of. Then, check out part two of this series, complete with a free step-by-step download.

Here are three prompts to get you started on your AI journey: 

  1. “Write three tweets with relevant hashtags based on the following sermon.” Then copy and paste your sermon from the weekend into the box. 
  2.  “Give me the most important three points the author makes in (insert book title)”
  3. “Create a team building event that can be completed in (insert timeframe), using these items: (list items), that focuses on (insert team skill you want to work on).”

If you are already using ChatGPT and other AI tools, I would love to hear from you! And if you want to learn more about how I am using AI, don’t skip part two.

Check Out Part 2–
How to AI in 2023: A Pastor’s Guide to ChatGPT