The wave of artificial intelligence is coming crashing down on every aspect of society and the church is not exempt. While this tool presents enormous benefits and challenges, there are ways you can use it right now to help you minister more effectively.
Introduction to AI Chatbots in Church Ministry
Artificial intelligence chat bots are systems that have been trained on lots of information — over 45 terabytes of text data from books, articles and web pages. To put that in language we can understand that is 765,000 hours of music or 11,250 movies worth of data.
This next generation of chatbots are not just responding based off of a decision tree a programmer set-up, “Chat GPT is a type of AI language model that uses deep learning to generate responses based on large amounts of natural language data. This means that it can be trained on a wide range of inputs and contexts, and can generate responses that are more human-like and adaptable to new situations.”
In other words, the technology gets smarter and smarter over time, the more learning, information and input it receives. So how can this technology be useful in digital discipleship? Where does it have the potential to make a positive impact?
Brainstorming with a Bot
You may not think of brainstorming with a language model, but if you’re ready to engage in back-and-forth conversation then this is a positive outcome of using ChatGPT, an AI language model trained by OpenAI“
For example, I engaged with the language model to come up with an idea and in asking several questions back and forth the idea was refined and customized to my need.
This use of the technology could be helpful if you’re on a small team or have no team at all or even if you want to use it as a starting point for a project.
Finding Church Technology Solutions with AI Chatbots
You can ask Chat GPT for different ways to solve your technology problems. For example, I am creating a Digital Discipleship Challenge that churches can complete, and I wanted to figure out the best technology solution for delivering the challenge so I asked Chat GPT.
The language model suggested five different methods I could use, and when I responded and said that the PDF solution probably wouldn’t be the best idea, it responded with alternative ideas, which included using project management tools, social media and storage solutions like DropBox.
Going through this process might introduce you to ideas you hadn’t initially thought of.
Streamlining Church Communications with Virtual Assistants
One of the most popular uses of Chat GPT at the moment is its ability to produce text. As a result people are flocking towards the technology to write emails, sales letters and more. Chat GPT even suggested that it can write sermons when I asked it for use cases.
As I look down the line at the potential good and harm of this technology, I can see that there is the danger that people become too reliant upon it to do the work.
In the long run, as I think of our emerging learners (read: little kids), this could result in people who have not developed the proper skills to write, read or research thoroughly as there may be the thinking that there are machines to do it for you.
While there are numerous warnings with the interface of the software that say this is a “Free Research Preview. ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts” the language model speaks with so much authority and is so knowledgeable that people will likely see it as a source of credible information.
It is important now, more than ever, that students are thought to think critically and to parse through information as content creation will likely come from language model sources more and more as time progresses.
Now that I’ve hopped off of my soapbox, I do believe there is potential in getting Chat GPT or a similar virtual assistant to help in producing text for various purposes.
Creating a Personalized Worship Experience with ChatGPT
If you or your ministry leaders are looking for ideas or ways it can engage with members in its community, Chat GPT can provide activity suggestions. You can specify the people who will be attending as well as their interests, age and needs and you will get a list of suggestions to draw from.
This might be a good starting point for you and you may find some ideas to get the group agenda started for youth ministry meeting, learning activities with kids, program activities, camping outings and even cooking demonstrations.
Automating Administrative Tasks with Chatbots
There is the opportunity for churches to use Chat GPT to help them respond to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
When I asked ChatGPT about the cost for this service it responded:
“The cost of setting up a Chat GPT chatbot for a church’s FAQ database can vary depending on several factors, such as the size of the church, the complexity of the FAQ database, and the level of customization and support required. However, here are some rough estimates based on different church sizes:
- Small church (less than 100 members): A small church may be able to use a basic, pre-built Chat GPT model with limited customization. The cost for such a model could range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year.
- Medium church (100-500 members): A medium-sized church may require more customization and support, such as integrating the chatbot into their website or social media channels. The cost for such a model could range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars per year.
- Large church (500+ members): A large church may require a highly customized and sophisticated Chat GPT model, as well as extensive support and training for their staff. The cost for such a model could range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Your Thoughts on Chat GPT
So, are you thinking of engaging with Chat GPT for any of your church’s needs? What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence in the digital discipleship space? We’d love to hear from you.
If you’d like to understand how your church can be more effective in the online space, you can sign-up for a digital church checkup. We would love to help you realize new ways you can minister online.