Church leaders and staff are among the professions most at risk from Artificial Intelligence (AI). That’s according to a study by the UK Department of Education.
It ranked clergy at 13th out of 365 occupational categories as being most exposed to AI tools such as ChatGPT. Telemarketers, solicitors, managements consultants and psychologists topped the list. The figures are based on what key skills are used in each profession, such as written comprehension and inductive reasoning.
Methodist Minister and Digital Theologian Reverend Dr. Pete Phillips told Premier Christian News (PCN) that while the many administrative tasks in running a church can be helped massively by AI technology, he struggles to see how the pastoral and emotional sides of church ministry could be carried out by a robot.
“Yesterday, I spent most of the day working with a family who had been bereaved, we have a crematorium service, then we transitioned over to the Thanksgiving service, and then a wake. And I just wonder how AI would have coped with all of that,” he queried.
“I suppose it could have recited the words, I’m not sure it could have written the talk for the service. I’m not sure they could have done all the kinds of social engagement, which I did, as I walked around the tables. It’s true that AI could help. But they certainly can’t do away with the human touch of a clergy person,” Dr. Phillips observed.
PCN reports AI tools used to organise church admin and digital communication are common place in thousands of churches. Dr. Phillips noted that Chat GPT is being used by pastors for producing hymns, sermon-writing, and even full service planning — all with questionable results.