Hear a good Sunday sermon? AI ready to make preacher’s words count all week long

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Church leaders and volunteers will soon have access to an artificial intelligence platform that aims to shave hours off their day-to-day tasks by generating content from sermons to engage fellow Christians when they are not in the pews. 

Upcoming platform Pulpit AI, founded by Michael Whittle, is expected to launch later this summer and will serve as a tool for Christian leaders looking to take the tedious work out of crafting religious blog posts, devotionals and prayer guides and social media posts.

“We want to help pastors of small to medium-sized churches be able to make content for their congregations to interact with throughout the week and on social media,” Whittle told Fox News Digital. “We think every pastor should, if they want, have a digital signal to their congregations beyond the sermon.

“Most small to medium-sized churches have small or completely volunteer staff, so they have zero operational leverage when it comes to media and resources for their church,” he added. “If we can help a church media team get past the blank page, we can not only save them crazy amounts of time, we can help every church become a resourcing church for their people.”

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Bible opened to verse

A congregant reads a referred passage from her Bible during services at Highland Colony Baptist Church in Ridgeland, Mississippi, Nov. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Puplit AI “doesn’t and never will” generate sermons, instead it serves as a tool where the user uploads a sermon or religious podcast in order to repurpose it into “social media highlights, blog posts, discussion questions, and the other content churches use to reach their congregations and communities day in and day out,” Whittle said.

“Pulpit AI analyzes long form audio and video, then repurposes that into various forms of content,” Whittle said. “Pulpit AI’s output is taken directly from the source material. If the source material is theologically solid, the content Pulpit AI creates will reflect that back.”

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last year, a chatbot system that can mimic human conversation based on prompts, changed the game on artificial intelligence as users flocked to the system to help with school assignments, crafting work emails or even to draft letters to object a parking ticket.

Open AI logo

OpenAI logo on the website displayed on a phone screen and ChatGPT on AppStore displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on June 8, 2023. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Following the release of the ChatGPT, some religious leaders warned to not use the program to craft sermons or homilies, arguing a computer can not preach. For Whittle, he says “most churches” will likely “widely adopt various niche tools that help them do the administrative tasks of day-to-day church building more efficiently,” while noting that theological and philosophical debates need to take place before using AI for the creation of sermons. 

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“In the realm of sermon creation, in service experiences, etc. I think there still needs to be many theological and philosophical conversations to be had about what large language models we are using and how,” he said.

Pulpit AI subsequently strikes the balance between assisting pastors and keeping them up-to-date on technological advances, without stripping them of their authority as a preacher in the form of actually writing sermons.

Church pews

Window light shines on rows of empty church pews in a Church Sanctuary without any people in it. (iStock)

“Just in the last week, I have had brilliant thinkers and leaders at major seminaries and denominations reach out and share how they are thinking about this, and I am really encouraged,” he said. 

“The church community at large should not just blindly embrace this revolutionary moment, but also we can’t totally dismiss it,” he went on. “It’s here, and I think we have a duty to make sure there are faithful people who are building products that harness the power of the technology for good.”

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Whittle said he expects to see a “massive win” as pastors integrate the system into their workflow to help create content that the faithful can reflect on throughout the week. 

Small sanctuary

Sanctuary of a small church with pews and pulpit. (iStock)

“I think offering their congregations formational content to interact with throughout the week that is homegrown is a massive win,” he said. “Our congregations are being formed online, largely from Christian influencers who have no local church accountability or pastoral insight into the people they are creating content for. This is a way for the local church to be a part of their congregation’s digital diet.”

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In addition, pastors and church staffers will likely save hours each week, according to Whittle, allowing them to spend more time with the congregation. 

GhatGPT openAI logo

ChatGPT logo and AI Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken, May 4, 2023. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

“I also think if we can help pastors and church staff to leverage time–about five or more hours a week–for a church staff member to get out from behind a computer and spend that time with people in their church, we are hopefully helping churches become more relational,” he said. 

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Roughly 500 people have already signed up for Pulpit AI, which is expected to officially launch later this summer following a testing period over the next few weeks. 

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