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Navigating AI in Ministry: A Thoughtful Approach

By Scott Hughes

IS Navigating AI

Over the past few months, I've enjoyed tutoring several pastor friends on how to use Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. Out of the blue, one of my pastor friends texted me, “Hey man. Thanks so much for teaching ChatGPT. It’s been a huge help.” We’ve heard stories of pastors calling AI “The Devil” only to return weeks later confessing they found it incredibly helpful with their day-to-day activities.

With many pastors like these, through training like our “Harnessing AI for Church Excellence” (a beginner's overview and training), we’ve explored some of the benefits of LLMs in expediting some of their administrative tasks and improving brainstorming for processes such as sermon preparation. Seeing their excitement about leveraging this new artificial intelligence (AI) technology in ministry has invigorated my desire to learn more and share this learning with other church leaders, but I recognize the importance of doing so thoughtfully.

When used discerningly, AI innovations can augment certain ministry endeavors. We’re not talking about AI writing the pastor's sermons (I wrote a separate article about that here). I hope here to express that AI can assist with sermon preparation and streamline administrative duties and mundane tasks that sometimes feel like a barrier keeping us from intentional discipleship in our communities.

Imagine dedicating more time to pastoral care, personal interactions, and community engagement thanks to AI tools helping with routine tasks like ideation, sermon feedback, and newsletter writing.

Our surveys (see below) and the conversations we’ve had with ministry leaders have revealed curiosity about AI's potential. We’ve also encountered some skepticism about the capabilities of LLMs to help ministry leaders, and this is where we are diligently working to highlight guidelines for appropriate usage.

We found that those who realize how useful these tools can be in assisting with mundane tasks want to learn more.

To address this, we will offer an "Advanced AI for Ministry" workshop that will be a focused time to clarify AI's role in ministry and to help leaders determine where the technology can assist them. We will look at developing guidelines for ministry and discovering specific-use cases, all to equip church leaders with practical, thoughtful applications of LLMs such as ChatGPT, Perplexity, and Claude.

This workshop is headlined as “Advanced,” and we’re eager to see how ministry leaders who are familiar with these tools can step into more intentional and complex use of the technology.

This focused workshop is specifically for ministry leaders with a basic grasp of LLMs. It will help elevate their understanding of the best uses for engaging with LLMs - lessening the burden of administrative tasks, improving the quality of ministry efforts, and making more time for relationships that help grow disciples.

If you want to learn more about how to thoughtfully integrate AI while staying true to your mission, or if you are interested in leveraging more of AI’s potential for ministry, we invite you to register here:

Register Today!

AI Webinar Graphic Survey

Scott Hughes is the Executive Director of Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship, Elder in the North Georgia Conference, M.Div. Asbury Theological Seminary, D. Min. Southern Methodist University, co-host of the Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way podcast, creator of the Courageous Conversations project, and facilitator of the How to Start Small Groups teaching series.

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