'Shotgun Sermon': Texas Pastor Uses AI Chatbot to Help With Sermon


A Texas pastor who used artificial intelligence (AI) to help draft an outline of a sermon described it as being a “shotgun sermon.”

Jay Cooper, the pastor of Violet Crown City Church in Austin explained to KXAN News he became interested in seeing what a sermon would be like if it was written by ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. Cooper described the final outcome as being more like an “outline.”

While ChatGPT has been found to be helpful, is has also caused controversy among educators who are struggling to make their exams “ChatGPT-proof.” Some schools have banned the use of ChatGPT, while others are trying to find ways to use it as a learning tool.

“ChatGPT kicked out about a 15-minute service, like a shotgun sermon, an outline,” Cooper told the outlet. “It’s very clear that element is still needed. I had to fill out the service with additional prompts and add a couple prompts to the sermon to kind of beef it up.”

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After speaking with several people from the church who worked as software developers, Cooper became interested in what it would “look like to incorporate” AI into a worship service.

“A big question that comes up to me as we let AI lead worship is can a prayer written by artificial intelligence, in some way, communicate truth? Can you experience God through that?” Cooper questioned.

Ernest Chambers, a member of the church, expressed that he was unsure that AI is able to “express the emotions of love and kindness and empathy.”

“I think that we must practice love and express that,” Chambers told the outlet. “Not only feel it, but we must express it.”

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Cooper agreed an AI-generated sermon still lacked emotion, adding “human touch” is critical in both life and ministry.

“I think the messiness of humanity should be present in worship,” Cooper said.

IJR reached out to Jay Cooper for a comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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