A Texas church hosted a Sunday service the was generated entirely by artificial intelligence.
The Violet Crown City Church in north Austin used ChatGPT to develop a sermon, with pastor Jay Cooper saying he got the idea after reading about the technology and wondering what it might be like to use in during a service, according to a report from KXAN.
“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.”
ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, has continued to gain popularity in recent months. The service has been used to help with a variety of applications, including generating ideas or the outline for articles, essays, and even books. In some cases, ChatGPT or similar platforms have been used to write entire articles and books, while others have used the technology to help assist with research.
“There’s so many different applications for AI,” Cooper said. “I just had the idea, ‘What would it look like to incorporate this into a worship service?'”
Cooper said he talked with members of the congregation before attempting the service, though some expressed afterward that AI would have a hard time replacing the human element.
“I’m not sure that AI can actually express the emotions of love and kindness and empathy,” Ernest Chambers, who attended the service, told KXAN. “I think that we must practice love and express that. Not only feel it, but we must express it.”
Cooper seemingly agreed with that sentiment, saying that “that human touch” is “critical” in both “life and ministry.”
Nevertheless, Cooper believes the experiment was an opportunity for both himself and those in attendance to learn more about what it means to worship.
“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 asked.
Cooper noted that its possible AI-generated sermons could pick up on components that resonate with people, helping them open their eyes to new ideas and ways of thinking.
“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,” Cooper said.
Despite the experiment, Cooper said that using AI for the service was a one time deal and he currently has no plans to do a similar service.
“I think the messiness of humanity should be present in worship,” Cooper said.