Artificial Intelligence

Find thoughts, resources, discussion and advice on using AI in a church context. Including tips for ways you can use AI to make mundane processes quicker, ideas for worship, and examples of how to creatively utilise this new technology in our faith exploration. 

What is AI and why does it matter?

Ultimate guide to AI and the Church

District Resources

Our Digital Enabler, Elliot Crippen, has been exploring using AI in various contexts. Find some of his thoughts, explorations, and examples here:

Creative Example: Using AI images during Holy Week
From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday 2024, I shared a design each day online created using Artificial Intelligence. Here you can find the images and some reflections on how they were received.

As part of The Kairos Movement session on Wednesday 17th January 2024, Elliot directed Chat GPT to create some opening devotions for the meeting, as a practical example of what AI worship could look like, and enabled us to base our discussions and comments on something tangible. The recording of these opening devotions is available to watch along with a summary of the discussion that took place.

Connexional Resources

Understanding the theology of AI
Recording from the Exploring Digital Online Conference by The Methodist Church on 30th September 2023 – the first main speaker session was: “AI, everywhere, all at once” by James Poulter. The talk starts at 12 mins into the video and lasts for 25 mins – a really good, but fast-paced, summary of AI in a church setting. Highly recommended.

The best resource for improving your effectiveness on social media as a church or as a Methodist, is to follow Elliot Crippen (our digital enabler) on Instagram. He posts regular social media tips for churches and offers creative examples of social media posts and videos that you might want to replicate…

Administration: AI can replicate a lot of mundane tasks, like organising diaries or taking minutes in a meeting (Zoom has an automatic function built in that will provide you with meeting summary notes). Whilst they may not be perfect, it’s often helpful in church settings where human resources are limited and administration skills lacking. 

Church Social Media: AI can assist in content creation by drafting social media posts, or suggesting creative ideas for events or campaigns. Automated social media management tools can schedule posts, analyse engagement metrics, and optimise content for wider reach.

Data analysis: Churches can use AI algorithms to analyse data collected from various sources, such as attendance records, donation information, and member demographics. This can provide insights into attendance trends, preferences, and other patterns that can help in planning events, outreach initiatives, and resource allocation. There are now AI tools built into Microsoft packages like Excel.

Sermon ideas: AI algorithms can analyse individual preferences, past sermons, and biblical texts to offer personalised sermon suggestions, ideas and templates. I wouldn’t recommend letting AI write you’re entire sermon! But it can offer helpful insite or generate new ideas as a starting point.

Prayers: exactly the same as Sermons above, AI can be used to generate prayers, or prayer ideas that you can refine. Often best to use it as a starting point for ideas. Or utilise it for more creativity by asking for a poem or being specific about the style of language. 

Photos: AI can generate images and graphics, which often are not as good as the real thing, but in many churches where photography skills are limited, generating Methodist images can be helpful (for social media, websites, publicity, flyers etc.) Particualarly as there are limited options for finding equivilent images online, as most are taken in America or The Church of England. 

There are hundreds of AI tools out there, so this is not a complete list, but rather a few recommendations of tools that Elliot, our Digital Enabler, uses:

If you already use Canva for designing graphics or posters for you church (which I would highly recommend) then it already has AI tools built in. You can generate text, images, custom designs and more using AI. Or expand an existing photograph to fill the space using AI to generate the rest of the picture!

Microsoft Copilot
Microsoft have AI tools built into most of their products now. Copilot is a rival to Chat GPT and given many of us already have Microsoft accounts, it makes accessing some AI features a lot easier. I now use Microsoft’s Image Creator as my default. Do you prefer Copilot or Chat GPT? They have become my go-to search engine instead of Google, and this is a good way to use them. 

Zoom Companion
Let AI help draft emails and chat messages, summarize meetings and chat threads, improve brainstorming with colleagues, and more — all in the easy-to-use Zoom experience you know and love. 

Automatically transcribes transcipts from a video or audio source. Can also automatically add subtitles (captions) to your videos. Easily turn your sermon video (or livestream) into a blog post. Or use AI to improve and edit audio for a video or podcast. 

These additional topics may be of interest, as they directly or indirectly relate to to the topic:

Graphic Design Help

Digital Discipleship

Digital Strategy

Digital Safeguarding

Contact our Digital Communications Enabler:

Elliot Crippen

Resources from others...

Blog articles by Premier Digital:
Can AI bring out the best of us?
Pete Philips – Jan 2022

How ethical is AI?
Pete Philips – Jan 2022

Nomad Podcast: ChatGPT – In AI We Trust? (N305)
In this episode we speak with a non-human guest: the AI chatbot, ChatGPT. We quiz ChatGPT on the ethical complexities and moral implications of weaving AI into our lives and spiritual journeys. We discuss what safeguards need to be in place to ensure AI acts as a catalyst for human flourishing, what AI can teach us about what it means to be human, and whether it could create its own religious texts, and lead its own Church of AI? After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks look for signs of hope in this emerging AI landscape.

The Ultimate Guide to AI, Pastors, and the Church
As technology advances, the use of generative A.I. will only become increasingly widespread. The church will not be exempt from this. As a result, the question for church leaders becomes not whether the church will embrace A.I., but how the church will embrace A.I. Written by Carey Nieuwhof and Kenny Jahng.

AI Christian Partnership – Resources
These reports, guides, and recordings are original, recent, and produced by member organisations in association with the AI Christian Partnership. They are designed to spark conversation and help you explore the impact of AI from a faith perspective.

Will AI write the sermon? – United Methodist Church
“I can see it now. My pastor using AI for his sermon and getting a Sunday off forever.” It is a valid fear that the broad implementation of AI is likely to disrupt several industries in the short and long term. It is also valid that parishioners may fear that the use of AI will replace the human element that is vital to well-crafted sermons and pastoral ministry as a whole. This blog aims to alleviate these fears by giving some insight and clarity regarding the use of AI in ministry.

The benefits of AI in the church – Justin Moore
Artificial intelligence (AI) is steadily carving out a place within ministry and Church Communications expert, Jason Moore, isn’t mad about it. Promising to revolutionize how we experience, share, and nurture our faith, AI can actually be used to impact the Kingdom.