A Texas church has used ChatGPT to hold a service written entirely by artificial intelligence.
The ai-generated service was held Sunday at the leftist Methodist Violet Crown City Church in north Austin.
Pastor Jay Cooper told The Hill that he used ChatGPT to knock out a “shotgun sermon.”
“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 uses prompts input by the user to create content, including articles, essays, and much more.
“There’s so many different applications for AI,” Cooper continued. “I just had the idea, ‘What would it look like to incorporate this into a worship service?’”
Ernest Chambers, who attends Violet Crown City Church, said that the sermon was missing “feeling.”
“I’m not sure that AI can actually express the emotions of love and kindness and empathy,” Chambers told The Hill. “I think that we must practice love and express that. Not only feel it, but we must express it.”
Cooper explained that his reason for holding the ai service was to grapple with the question of “what is sacred?”
“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. “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 agreed with Chambers that the sermon was missing emotion.
“I think the human touch is critical in life and in ministry,” Cooper said. “I think the messiness of humanity should be present in worship.”
Cooper does not plan to continue using ChatGPT sermons.
Samantha Shorey, a communication studies assistant professor with the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communications, told the outlet that while writing entire sermons may not be the best use of ChatGPT, the tool could be useful for finding passages related to specific topics.
“Can you help me find a passage that relates to grief? Or could you help me find a passage that relates to being at a difficult crossroads in your life?” Shorey suggested as prompts.