Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Artificial Intelligence vs Authentic Integrity?

Written by: on September 7, 2023

“Dealing with systems that output plausible but wrong information feels like a very new challenge” (Michael Webb)


The impact of technological advancements, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), extends across various facets of contemporary life, encompassing domains as diverse as church life and ministry. Approximately one year ago, I encountered a noteworthy post authored by a lay member of a church located in a different city. This individual shared insights via a YouTube channel regarding the utilization of AI for sermon compilation, lauding the transformative influence of AI in simplifying the tasks of numerous individuals engaged in ministry.

As I immersed myself in this individual’s YouTube presentation, I found myself captivated by the potential implications of AI integration into church ministry. It led me to contemplate whether this marked the inception of a paradigm shift toward an AI-centric model of ministry within the church. However, I maintained a stance of cautious examination, eschewing undue enthusiasm for the presented concept. My conviction was that a meticulous assessment was warranted.

Subsequently, I embarked on an exploratory venture, establishing an AI account and experimenting with the free version of chat GPT. Through this process, it became apparent that the capabilities of AI, while undeniably remarkable, lacked certain critical attributes inherent to human ministers who operate based on their individual faculties, accumulated knowledge, and personal experiences. Indeed, AI serves as a valuable tool, yet its presence in the realm of ministry should be scrutinized judiciously, with careful attention to its utility and impact on human endeavors.

Furthermore, delving into the potential perils associated with AI integration within my academic endeavors, several concerns surface. One prominent issue pertains to data reliability. The utilization of outdated or unverified datasets, such as the pre-2021 data employed by GPT, may introduce vulnerabilities into the research process, potentially inviting objections and necessitating data corrections. As Michael Webb says: “Dealing with systems that output plausible but wrong information feels like a very new challenge.”(1)

A related danger centers on plagiarism, arising from the potential deviation of AI-generated content from established academic conventions and guidelines. This deviation could inadvertently result in the unintentional appropriation of others’ intellectual property, necessitating heightened vigilance in adhering to academic standards. There is the risk of fostering intellectual complacency. The accessibility and convenience of AI tools may discourage rigorous critical thinking in the creation and analysis of academic papers, particularly within the realm of scholarly work.

While technological innovations, particularly AI, offer transformative potential across various spheres of life, including church ministry and academia, their incorporation necessitates a measured and discerning approach. Addressing concerns related to data validity, plagiarism, and the potential for diminishing critical thinking is paramount in harnessing the benefits of AI while upholding the integrity of scholarship and human endeavor.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) undoubtedly offers numerous advantages, yet it is crucial to acknowledge its inherent limitations, particularly within the academic and religious domains. Beyond issues pertaining to data quality and relevance, another noteworthy limitation emerges the substantial maintenance costs associated with AI systems. These expenses can be prohibitively high, prompting a pertinent question about whether the benefits accrued from AI justify the considerable investment, both in terms of financial resources and human capital.

Arguably, the most pivotal limitation lies in the realm of human emotions and empathy, a topic that was the focal point of a recent theological discussion within our synod. This discourse underscored the concern among clergy about the potential for AI to replace human roles, including pastoral positions, within the context of church ministry. A consensus emerged, however, that AI’s inherent shortcoming lies in its incapacity to comprehend and empathize with the complex spectrum of human emotions, struggles, and suffering. AI remains bereft of the profound emotional understanding that humans possess, rendering it unsuitable to replace human roles within the church.

Nonetheless, it is essential to recognize that AI, when employed judiciously, can make valuable contributions to academia and religious services. For instance, AI can be harnessed to offer innovative alternatives to traditional academic writing and facilitate meaningful theological discussions.

In light of these considerations, the wisdom shared by David Boudd and Michael Webb gains significance. Their stance advocates for a balanced and informed approach to AI integration. This approach entails neither wholesale rejection nor blind reliance on AI to replace human roles. Instead, it calls for a proportional and effective use of AI to enhance human capabilities and augment the positive impact of technology within academic and ecclesiastical settings.

In conclusion, it is indeed plausible to assert that AI has left its mark on virtually every facet of human endeavor. This sentiment aligns with the observation made by David Boud, who aptly stated, “They have been rapidly incorporated into workplaces at all levels and in all disciplines.”(2) Therefore, it is imperative that we heed the wisdom of Boudd and Webb to ensure that humanity retains agency in the responsible control and utilization of technological tools, including AI, to ensure the preservation of human integrity. By doing so, we can harness these technologies to advance the greater good of society and safeguard against any unintended consequences that may arise from their misuse. In light of the fact that as humans, whether AI exists or not, maintaining integrity as noble creations of God remains paramount. This is because the ultimate source of all wisdom and knowledge in the world originates from God. As the Bible says: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6).

(1) Michael Webb, Chat GPT and its Impact on Education, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eMgz1LWSXLOeFrPcAMDf0z5KEwFVhAs7, Accessed September 6, 2023.

(2) David Boud, Assesment AI, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eMgz1LWSXLOeFrPcAMDf0z5KEwFVhAs7, Accessed September 6, 2023.

About the Author


Dinka Utomo

Dinka Nehemia Utomo is an ordained pastor of the Protestant Church in the Western part of Indonesia (Gereja Protestan di Indonesia bagian Barat or GPIB). He has served for more than 15 years. The first five years of his ministry were in the remote area of East Kalimantan, including people from the indigenous Dayak tribe in the small villages in the middle of the forest, frequently reached using small boats down the river. For more than 15 years, Dinka has served several GPIB congregations in several cities in Indonesia. He has always had a passion for equipping Christian families, teaching and guiding them to build equal relations between husband and wife, maintaining commitment, love, and loyalty, creating a healthy and constructive Christian family atmosphere, and rejecting all forms of violence and sexual violence. Dinka's beloved wife, Verra, is also a GPIB pastor. They have two blessed children. Dinka and his wife and children love to spend quality family time, such as lunch or dinner, and vacation to exotic places.

9 responses to “Artificial Intelligence vs Authentic Integrity?”

  1. Esther Edwards says:

    Thank you for your well-written post! Yes, “a balanced and informed approach to AI integration” is warranted. I, also, can see how the use of AI could help lessen the weight of preparation in so many areas within church leadership. As with anything, though, used in excess and without restraint, it could lead to lazy thinking and hinder growth if relied on without the use of wisdom and caution.

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Esther, thanks for your response! For me, the issue of AI is pushing us to accept it as a reality that is raised in this digital era. On the other hand, that issue also pushes us to utilize it wisely, especially in academic and ministry settings. By doing that, we can save the next generations to stay authentic as humans.

  2. Hey Dinka, I loved that phrase in regard to AI, that it should be ‘scrutinized judiciously’ WOW! I could not get past your word judiciously and thought, that’s the key. I need to put the time in to see when AI is helpful and when it’s not helpful. In fact, I need to study judiciously throughout this program. Thanks again Dinka for your wisdom. You are brilliant my friend. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Oxford!

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Todd, thanks for responding!
      The reason is because God has created us in His image. He puts His wisdom inside our minds and hearts. Therefore, every new phenomenon on earth including AI, we can’t avoid, but we can utilize it to glorify His name and bless the world. See you in Oxford!

  3. Adam Harris says:

    Great posts Dinka, good personal analysis of how you’ve explored AI in regards to ministry. I’m curious, what specific aspect of AI do you find most helpful in ministry at this point? Or do you? This week was my first time engaging it.

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Adam, thank you for your response!
      Speaking about AI, I would like to see it as technologies or digital technologies that closely integrate into our daily lives, such as search engine technology like Google or Bing. That technology has helped us for decades in academic and ministry settings. Nowadays, technology has been increasingly developed, such as chat-GPT. But until this day, I have never used it to help me to create my sermons or any theological reflections. I am sure that God is the ultimate source of wisdom. And the other reason I want to be authentic in my ministry.

  4. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    This is because the ultimate source of all wisdom and knowledge in the world originates from God. As the Bible says: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Hmm.. this led my mind to a place I hadn’t gone yet, though a lot of the videos went there, to the creation of AI. AI is human made. It takes a human being to work the coding behind all of it, so seems to be a beautiful partnership in its organic conception at least. How can we use our God given wisdom to speak into this technology?

    • mm Dinka Utomo says:

      Hi Jana, thanks for responding!
      It’s a good question! First of all, I’m in line with your thoughts regarding AI being made by humans. If we draw it further, humans are created by God, therefore what humans have is basically from God. However, as humans, we have to utilize our wisdom regarding technology so it can bring far more qualities in this life and for whole creations.

  5. mm Russell Chun says:

    “A stance of cautious examination” is probably the best place to be right now.

    I haven’t purchased an electric car yet, because I want all the kinks to be worked out. I do think Electric is the way to go, but I hear so many weird things. Case in point, it explodes after salt crystals link the batter terminals after the car has been flooded. YIKES. I think I’ll wait a bit.

    Same thing for AI. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will have the chance to wait. It is here NOW.

    AI reminds me of teenagers. I put up the guardrails, set the rules and they learn to live within that space. Sometimes they wander out of bounds and there is consequences for that.

    Perhaps we train AI the way we teach teenagers, we embrace their quirks and guide them in the right direction.

    Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.


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