AI Sermon Writer??


Artificial Intelligence is now writing sermons!

If you haven't kept up, AI Chat bots are taking the world by storm. College students are having them write papers. Chat bots can create poems, songs, clever tweets, e-mails, articles, Instagram captions, jokes, and stories. All it takes are a few prompts and in seconds AI can produce creations that actually look and feel somewhat legitimate.

I have toyed with this software a little bit (at least the free versions). I've had it write jokes, songs, and poems. To me, it feels like a novelty at the moment. However, its more than just a fun oddity to be played with for some people. It is literally changing the way some people work, create, and communicate.

That's why when I heard that Chat GPT is now writing sermons, I became concerned. How can artificial intelligence properly communicate the truths of God's Word in a way that engages and changes lives?

Well, for starters, God can do anything He wants. Nothing is outside of His control. He can use anything and everything to communicate His truths. 

Secondly, it is God's Word that actually engages and changes lives. It is not dependent upon the speaker as it is dependent upon God, His Word, and the moving of His Holy Spirit.

With that said, it shouldn't really be concern that fills my heart, but a reinvigorating passion to be one of God's messengers and preach truth. As long as disciples of Jesus Christ have walked the earth, there have been poor sermons prepared and delivered. There are people giving Saturday night specials, personal story time discourses, and watered-down motivational speeches from pulpits. I joked that Chat GPT could probably write a sermon with more biblical truth than Joel Osteen.

While it breaks my heart to see the preaching of God's Word not taken seriously, I would better spend my energy being one that does take the preaching of His Word seriously, sits under Godly tutelage and mentorship, and pray fervently as I prepare for His Holy Spirit to give me His Words to preach. 

My concern resides more with the hearers, those who do not understand the difference between God's inspired word, spiritual rhetoric, or just outright plagiarism. 

A rabbi in New York actually delivered a sermon he plagiarized from AI. He confessed before delivery to his congregation that he was doing this. After he delivered the AI-written sermon, people applauded. His response was, "now you're clapping - I'm deathly afraid."

Hershael York, the Dean of Theology at Southern Seminary, said, "It lacks a soul - I don't know how else to say it."

Pastor Mike Glenn from Brentwood Baptist in Brentwood, Tennessee said, "AI will never be able to preach a decent sermon. Why? Because the gospel is more than words. It's the evidence of a changed life."

Dr. Russell Moore was quoted as saying about AI, "Preaching needs someone who knows the text and can convey that to the people. When we listen to the Word preached, we are hearing not just a word about God but a word from God." 

AI may be able to get facts straight, but AI cannot come from a place of love, compassion, experience, anguish, hurt, grief, joy, and faith. The human element is something God uses specifically to communicate His truths. After all, His Word was penned by human authors under the  authority of the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus Himself commanded His disciples through the great commission to preach the gospel.

"He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15

This is a responsibility and calling that is not meant to be delegated as an afterthought! 

I'm sure there will be clever ways for us to use AI in the church and for Kingdom purposes. It will probably turn out to be a great tool for specific kinds of ministry. However, I do not believe that it will ever replace the preaching of the Word of God.

The preaching of His Word is central to worship.

I was asked a few years ago, in a course I had to take as an Army Chaplain, to write down on an index card the reason why I preach.

This is what I wrote (the card still sits on my desk at work):

I preach as a messenger of God's Word to communicate His truths for encountering Jesus and life transformation. My prayer through preaching is that hearers would be doers and passionately serve the Lord, putting His Word into action.

A bot doesn't care why it puts together a message. It is simply doing what it is told, what it was programmed to do. 

I'll bet that I'd be much more convinced to buy a work of art from the artist than from a store clerk, especially when the artist tells me how passionate he is about the work, the love and dedication he put into the project, and explains the process from a place of deep understanding. A store clerk can give me basic information and price, but will only tell me what facts he knows, nothing more.

As God's messengers, we speak on behalf of God, empowered by His Holy Spirit. The message is coming essentially from the artist.

We talked about Christians and art on the latest episode of the podcast I am a part of

When I think about sermon writing, I see it as an art. God is creator. He created us to create for His glory. We don't create new words. We preach His words. However, the passion and love of putting those words together to share with the world is a creative process and an art. A bot cannot replicate the art of preaching, even if it can draw random pictures.

As a chaplain and pastor, I am so passionate about the art of preaching. I'm not claiming to be the best preacher in the world, but I do love preaching His Word. It is a privilege and honor.
I work alongside many men and women who preach the Word powerfully as Chaplains. However, I also work alongside some who don't. As long as I am serving God in this capacity, the Chaplains I mentor and teach will be told how important preaching is to what we do. It shouldn't ever be a Saturday Night Special or plagiarized from a sermon website. It should be crafted under God's divine moving and delivered in love, faithfulness, and boldness.

I wish I'd have the opportunity to be one of the Army Chaplain Corps Homiletics instructors. Unfortunately, there are so few spots and the timing did not work for me to pursue that track. I'd love nothing more than to teach chaplains how to preach and the importance of preaching. Its what we bring to the fight!

Pastors of all kinds, hear me! It's what you bring to the fight. Don't pawn off the teaching off God's precious Word. Don't save sermon writing as the last item on your To-Do List. Make it a priority! God's Word has the power to change lives for eternity. This is a no-fail mission week in and week out. Don't let it be an afterthought! And don't give it away to a novelty bot. 

Just because my interest was piqued, I found a website that generates AI Sermon outlines. All you have to do on this particular site which, will remain nameless, is put in a passage of scripture and AI will spit out a thesis statement and even give you the option of producing a full outline based on one of the particular thesis options it gives you. You even have the option of picking a particular theme or denominational focus.

I first typed in James 1:1-17, one of my favorites passages. Then, for kicks, I put in 2 Kings 2:23-25 (if you know, you know). 

Honestly, the thesis statements and outlines weren't bad. However, you could tell that they were dry, programmed, and even slightly off course for the particular passage, opting to stay more general and less focused.

I've already shared what I think about this above. Just thought you'd be curious like me. Enjoy.



Post a Comment