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Pastors: Lead Not Your Church into Fear of AI

We can use generative apps for ministry and make our congregations aware of its dangers.

As a pastor, most of my emails deal with the usual ministry matters: schedules for Bible study, comments about worship services, or misplaced Tupperware at a recent potluck. But lately, I’ve had several church leaders asking me questions about artificial intelligence (AI).

Some have requested resources on how to leverage its capabilities and avoid its dangers. Others have asked me for advice on how they can help their congregations avoid AI scams, like automated voice clones of their pastors calling to solicit money.

As an author of Redeeming Technology: A Christian Approach to Healthy Digital Habits, a PhD candidate in digital ecclesiology, and a pastor, I think often about emerging technologies and the church.

My Lutheran church tradition is not known for being particularly futuristic or technological—we once looked askance at lightning rods as an impediment to divine providence. But it’s not only Lutherans who are suddenly curious about AI. It seems like everyone is interested in AI today, including many who are worried about its dangers.

Geoffrey Hinton, known as the “godfather” of AI, recently quit his post at Google based on concerns about the lack of policy surrounding it. The Supreme Court recently weighed in on a case about internet regulations of computer algorithms. And hundreds of scientists, tech experts, and industry leaders recently posted a statement warning that AI poses a grave risk to humanity, comparable to pandemics and nuclear war.

Evangelical leaders have also produced statements, and AI experts have weighed in on how it may impact the future of theology and biblical interpretation. As pastors, we can help our congregations think through the potential impact of generative AI, …

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