A church in Texas has tried using artificial intelligence (AI) to design an entire Sunday service for the first time.
The Violet Crown City Church in Austin enlisted the help of an AI chat program, ChatGPT, to craft every aspect of their worship experience, including the order of prayers, choice of songs, and even asking it to compose an original song tied to the sermon.
The church’s pastor, Jay Cooper, started the service on Sunday by reading out the prompt he had given to ChatGPT, to come up with the service.
He said: “Create a Sunday morning worship service for a church that values sharing life and belonging to one another, inclusivity for all, working for justice and following in the way of Jesus. Include four familiar hymns or contemporary worship songs, a call to worship, pastoral prayer, children’s message, offering time, communion liturgy, a sermon, and one original song to reflect the message of the sermon.”
Pastor Jay shared that initially the chat had produced just a 15-minute service, and said he had had to provide more prompts to “beef-up” the results, acknowledging: “There was some human element still necessary to create today’s service”.
Reflecting on the service, one church attendee told US network KXAN he was able to worship, but that he felt the service ultimately lacked the human touch.
"I’m not sure that AI can actually express the emotions of love and kindness and empathy," the parishioner said. "I think that we must practice love and express that. Not only feel it, but we must express it."
The church advertised the service as a “one-time experiment”, reassuring congregants that it wasn’t something that was likely to be repeated, but said, "we believe it's a worthy and timely [experiment] in our ever-changing world, especially with the rise of AI.”