Wednesday, October 04, 2023

AI Takes Over Methodist Church Worship Service

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

The headline reads, "Church in AI takeover as sermon led by ChatGPT in artificial intelligence breakthrough."

Artificial Intelligence tool ChatGPT was used to transform the tradition of a Sunday service at the Violet Crown City Church, a Methodist church in North Austin, Texas.

I mention this because this will not be the last church to turn over its pulpit to AI.

This "progress" is coming to churches across the country.

I will also be talking about the removal of the Speaker of the House on the radio this morning.

Be informed, not misled.

The news story reads: "The word of God has now been officially taken over by AI as proved by this robot-generated sermon, which included humans worshipping."

I wouldn't say it has been "taken over," but those in ministry are certainly trying to lead the church in that direction. This pastor is one of them.

"You can now forget the stereotype that religion is backward as this Methodist Church in Texas now uses artificial intelligence to conduct a service with ChatGPT."

On September 17, 2023, the Violet Crown City Church, a Methodist church in North Austin, US, transformed the tradition of Sunday service into the new age with Artificial Intelligence.

Pastor Jay Cooper, of Violet Crown City Church, decided to debut an AI-generated worship service for his congregation.

Jay came across this idea of using AI to worship God through using Chat GPT himself for personal use such as writing humorous country music lyrics for fun, and thought it would be a great way to move his congregation into the 21st century by introducing them to AI in a way that still lets them worship God.

Using AI, Jay recorded the service while letting the artificial intelligence generator conduct the service, with AI being able to create prayers, a sermon, and an original song based on the sermon itself.

Jay insisted he was able to use AI in a way that many would not have thought of and take the stereotype that Christianity meant being unaccepting and stuck in the past.

“The idea to create an AI-generated worship service came from my belief that the church should not only be aware of the most pressing issues of our world but also to actively engage in them,” Jay said.

The local television station in Austin, KXAN, reported, "From the classroom to the workplace, artificial intelligence has made its way into several parts of our lives... But now, it’s in the church, as well. The Violet Crown City Church in north Austin hosted a Sunday service entirely created by AI."

Fox News said, "With artificial intelligence seemingly infiltrating every facet of our lives, one church decided to experiment with the technology for one of its services last week."

The Violet Crown City Church in Austin held an AI-generated service on Sunday, describing the experiment as "uncharted territory." 

"This Sunday we’re entering somewhat uncharted territory by letting ChatGPT create the order of worship, prayers, sermon, liturgy, and even an original song for our 10 a.m. service," the church wrote on its official Facebook page. 

How did the church members feel about this type of "progress?"

“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.”

Pastor Cooper said he got the idea after reading more about AI and speaking with members of the congregation who are software developers.

Church attendee Ernest Chambers said he was able to worship during the service, but ultimately, it was still missing a key ingredient for him: feelings.

“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.”

Samantha Shorey, a communication studies assistant professor with the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communications, was appointed to a study panel focused on exploring the future of AI in society.

Shorey said now is a critical point for communities to decide the appropriate use of this technology and which spaces to welcome it into.

Her biggest concern is putting too much trust in text generated by a computer. She encouraged thinking critically about AI content.


Will this become the norm for this church?

The New York Post reported, "Cooper plans to keep his sermon on the motherboard to a one-time experience only, at least for now."

“It was missing the most important component of worship, which is heart and the human spirit of joy and authenticity,” the pastor added.

“Never say never, I suppose, since it’s possible AI may yet be of use for us in some way in the church, but for now we won’t be using it again to generate any components of Sunday morning worship services.”

Several religious leaders across various faiths began experimenting with ChatGPT as a writing tool when it became immensely popular last winter as well.

Though, as Cooper and other clergymen previously pointed out, you can’t get soul from syntax — yet.


For context, we should know that 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.

While they seem uninterested in continuing to use ChatGPT for their church services, they remain deeply committed to re-writing biblical teachings on homosexuality.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Steadfast. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.