In the flow of news and even around the dinner table, advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have become a frequent topic of discussion—even debate—as its prevalence in our day-to-day lives increases.
For many Christians, conversations about its widespread presence involve concerns about how to use AI ethically and responsibly, while protecting biblical truth, values, and principles. If that foundation is in place, many pastors and ministry leaders are opening their eyes to a number of its possible benefits, from analyzing data and streamlining administrative tasks to enhancing communication and amplifying outreach.
If AI can effectively boost human capabilities and simplify operations across various industries, why couldn’t it do the same in the ministry space? If we’re committed to fulfilling the Great Commission across the entire globe, AI is an opportunity to accelerate that mission by communicating the Gospel to a broader audience more efficiently and effectively.
In 1979, I emigrated from Iran to California, earned a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence and spent many years working as a Research Scientist in the tech space. I left the field when I felt God call me to dedicate my life to reaching Iranians with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s interesting how these two seemingly unrelated seasons of my life are now poised to intersect in a profound and potentially kingdom-building way. I can clearly see that if used thoughtfully, AI can be a very effective tool to enhance ministry efforts and accelerate the sharing of the gospel to the entire world.
Although its potential benefits are many, in its most basic form, advancements in AI can support these fundamental elements of day-to-day ministry operations:
- Data Mining, Analysis and Insights
AI is a master at transcribing information from one format to another or sorting and analyzing large amounts of data. Even better, it can process and analyze large volumes of data at high speeds, making it possible to identify patterns and trends that could easily be missed by humans, and then make predictions about future outcomes.
In a ministry setting, utilizing AI tools to analyze congregation data, such as attendance, giving trends, and demographic information could guide data-driven decisions for ministry planning. Those who engage virtually, either via live streaming or satellite broadcasts spanning the globe, can be identified, evaluated, and then discipled with lessons personalized to where they are in their spiritual journey, and at what level of spiritual maturity they are. In the parts of the world where there are significant barriers to sharing the Gospel, such as Iran, AI can help to identify the optimal areas to invest evangelism and discipleship resources, targeting people who are the most reachable and ripest for harvest and church leadership and present the gospel according to their background and level of openness to it.
- Communication, Outreach, and Virtual Ministry Opportunities
While person-to-person contact will always be paramount, for ministries that span many borders, automated communication processes using AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants can create interactive experiences that engage people in conversations about faith, answer their questions, and provide personalized resources for discipleship and prayer.
AI could be used to protect Christians by identifying the Government agents who contact our global church and pretend to be Christians in order to infiltrate our underground house churches.
As we consider the opportunities AI offers to the world today, we must remember that while it’s a powerful tool, it should complement, not replace, the relational aspects of ministry, such as community, spiritual guidance, prayer, and emotional support. Our use of technology must be balanced with the compassionate, divinely inspired love and human connection that is essential for ministry.
- Language Translation
If your congregation or ministry is multicultural, AI can help in translating sermons and materials into multiple languages, ensuring everyone feels included. Of course, it’s important to consider cultural and linguistic nuances to ensure the content is accurate and culturally sensitive.
AI technology is also able to support agencies that are working to translate the Bible into every language. Making the Word of God available in every heart language fosters greater receptivity to the gospel message and helps the reader feel seen and valued.
- Content Creation
While AI should never replace the inspiration we receive from God, it can assist in generating content such as blog posts, newsletters, and social media updates. It can also help in generating sermon outlines and ideas, although this is where it’s important to be sure the output is biblically sound and aligns with how the Holy Spirit is leading. Just as we wouldn’t assume every Bible commentary out there is inherently true without using spiritual discernment, the same must be considered with AI content creation.
Hormoz Shariat is the founder of Iran Alive Ministries, which utilizes satellite TV to reach people in Iran and the rest of the Middle East. He firmly believes that Iran will be the first Islamic nation that turns to Christ. He is the author of Iran’s Great Awakening.