Church AI…​Are we really ready?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is growing and its reach in our world, our society is immense. Every social network is using AI. Your banks, your insurance companies, and many of employers of your congregations are all employing AI to some degree. Churches, synods, presbyteries, dioceses, and middle judicatories need to look to capitalize on AI’s potential for bringing about the Kingdom of God in our modern world.

For starters stop thinking of the tools of the fourth/fifth industrial revolution as “just technology.” When it comes to AI, we are talking about a tool that will have an impact beyond your imagination when it comes to church planting, growing your congregations and discipleship. Start to think of AI as a highly sophisticated mechanism that touches robotics, autonomous vehicles, data analysis, self-service, and is a tool to enhance the back office efficiency. Think: Expand our mission, retain our members and improve our operations.

AI needs to behave responsibly in our churches and reflect the mission and norms which are established for bringing about the kingdom of God. The church will begin to realize that AI is not a software tool that performs tasks like the accounting software but AI is a technology that “learns” from being used. I would suggest you think of AI in the same framework as you would education. Think Innovation-Education-Collaboration. AI needs to “understand” what our missional belief systems are composed of to perform analytics better, to understand “right and wrong” and the gray in between. Think of raising AI as a new “worker” in the fields.

AI is designed as a collaboration tool, and to collaborate with people. AI is a tool that will assist in the area of maintaining data privacy of the congregation. AI will assist in governing your data privacy policy, your missional policies and your rules and directives. AI will support pastors and boards in gaining congregational trust and confidence by exercising transparency in AI-based decisions and the actions we take based on the collaboration with the support staff and ministers.

We must always remember that AI is not a replacement for human intelligence or intuition. AI is a tool that contributes to the mission of God, that is in service to humanity and is judged by our moral code and ethics. We must see AI as a tool that enhances understanding and not replaces the dignity of what humans do for a living, for the mission or their labor of love.

The church needs to begin the conversations of the role of AI before society thrust the technology into the world where there is no return. The Church needs to engage its members and its leadership at all levels in discussion with technology leaders, business leaders who are employing AI and focus on the ways and means that AI will be applied in the mission. AI more than any other tool demands discussion and innovation along with education and most importantly collaboration.

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