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I Asked ChatGPT To Write Me a Sermon. It Wasn’t Terrible.

In January of 2023, the company behind ChatGPT (OpenAI) received a $10 billion investment from Microsoft. That’s a lot for a company that most people didn’t even know existed six months prior.

What that investment represents though is the tech world’s belief in the future use cases of artificial intelligence. For years now, people have claimed that AI would take over the world. It seems that day has finally arrived.

I’m one of those people who is actually excited about the advent of artificial intelligence, even though it’s fraught with risks. I think it can actually be a real help to those of us who work online (which is most people) and can transform the way we work, just like the assembly line did more than 100 years ago.

That being said, it still has a long way to go before AI starts to replicate human thinking and reasoning skills (probably a good thing). Websites like ChatGPT use the material that is already present online in order to generate their output, so it’s limited by information availability.

Still, if you ask it to do something semi-complex — like write a sermon for you — it can accomplish the task, even if the results aren’t extraordinary.

I recently asked it to write me a sermon on the story of David and Goliath. I clarified in the prompt that I wanted five points, three Bible verses, and a unique story from each.

Here’s what it came up with:

Title: “Defeating Giants: Lessons from David and Goliath”

Introduction:

Good morning, beloved congregation! Today, we turn our attention to the timeless tale of David and Goliath—a story that has captivated hearts for generations. As we explore this narrative, we will uncover five valuable lessons that can guide us in facing our own giants of life. Join me as we dive into the depths of this inspiring account and draw wisdom from the Scriptures and real-life stories that illustrate these essential truths.

Point 1: Trusting God’s Strength in Our Weakness

Bible Verses:

1 Samuel 17:37 – “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Real-Life Story:

Imagine a young athlete named Alex who doubted his abilities before a crucial championship game. Despite his insecurities, he chose to trust in God’s strength, recalling the times when God had helped him overcome previous challenges. In the game’s critical moments, Alex felt a divine surge of confidence, leading his team to victory. Just as David relied on God’s strength, Alex experienced that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

Point 2: Using What God Has Given Us

Bible Verses:

4. 1 Samuel 17:40 – “Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch.”

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Real-Life Story:

Meet Jane, a talented artist who used her God-given creativity to bring hope and healing to others. Like David’s humble sling and stones, Jane’s artistic talents were her tools to touch hearts and share God’s love. She organized an art workshop at a local shelter, where the residents found solace and self-expression through art. Jane realized that God had uniquely equipped her to make a difference in the lives of those around her.

Point 3: Overcoming Fear with Faith

Bible Verses:

6. 1 Samuel 17:45 – “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Real-Life Story:

Consider Sarah, a young woman diagnosed with stage fright who dreamed of singing in her church’s worship team. Despite her fear of being judged, she decided to step out in faith, believing that God would strengthen her. On her first Sunday leading worship, as Sarah surrendered her fear to God, His presence enveloped her, and her voice resonated with power and conviction. Through faith, she overcame her fear, allowing God’s Spirit to work in and through her.

Point 4: Facing Giant Obstacles with Persistence

Bible Verses:

9. 1 Samuel 17:48 – “And when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.”

Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”

Real-Life Story:

Imagine Jack, an aspiring entrepreneur whose dream was to start a socially conscious business. He faced numerous obstacles, but with unwavering determination, he persisted in pursuing his vision. Despite repeated setbacks, Jack continued to “run quickly toward the battle line,” learning from each failure and growing stronger. In time, his perseverance bore fruit, and his business became a beacon of hope and change in the community.

Point 5: Giving Glory to God in Victory

Bible Verses:

11. 1 Samuel 17:47 – “…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Psalm 115:1 – “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Real-Life Story:

Consider Mark, a professional athlete who faced tremendous success in his career. Instead of boasting in his achievements, Mark humbly acknowledged that his gifts and victories were a reflection of God’s goodness. He regularly used his platform to glorify God, inspiring others to see the Lord’s hand in their own lives. Mark’s commitment to giving glory to God magnified the impact of his influence on and off the field.

Conclusion:

The story of David and Goliath teaches us profound lessons about trusting God’s strength, using our God-given gifts, overcoming fear with faith, persisting through obstacles, and giving glory to God in all circumstances. Just as real-life stories of Alex, Jane, Sarah, Jack, and Mark illustrate these truths, we too can apply these principles to face the giants in our lives. May we be inspired by the faith and courage of David, knowing that with God’s help, we can conquer any giant that stands in our way. Let us rely on His strength, persevere in faith, and give glory to the Almighty as we journey through life’s challenges. Amen.

How to Actually Use ChatGPT to Help With Sermon Preparation

Obviously, no one in their right mind would ever ascend into the pulpit to preach this sermon as is. Not only is it extremely weak from a doctrinal standpoint, it also just doesn’t have much meat on the bones for people to hold on to.

The points are just…the points.

That being said, as a starting point, I believe ChatGPT can be a great tool in sermon preparation. Here is how I would use it if I were relying on it to help craft a sermon.

Use the Right Prompt to Specify Exactly What I Want

I went through about 10 different prompts before I got what I was wanting. Some had too few verses, others had really vague stories, while a few provided points that were so vague you couldn’t even really tell what the Text was.

You’ll probably have to do the same. When you use ChatGPT for whatever purpose you choose, make sure you focus on the prompts.

Use ChatGPT for Research Purposes

The limitation mentioned above (that it can only use information already on the internet) is actually one of ChatGPT’s greatest strengths. While you never want to use it to write your sermons for you, I believe it’s absolute best use case is as a research tool.

In that regard, it’s insanely powerful.

Imagine that you are tasked with teaching an adult class on the subject of prayer. You could use ChatGPT to craft possible discussion questions around that subject.

I did that and here’s what it came up with.

Are they perfect? Far from it. But can you use them as a launching point for your own questions? Absolutely.

Create a Calendar of Future Topics

I’ve relied on a preaching calendar for years, and most of my preacher friends have as well. It helps me stay diversified in my preaching, instead of sitting on a hobby horse for several months while the people roll their eyes so far back in their head they can see the guy behind them.

When I asked ChatGPT to create a preaching calendar, it spit out 52 weeks worth of topics ranging from “Prayer as Conversation With God” to “Blessed to Be a Blessing.” It even included verses to use as the basis for the sermon itself.

Feel free to experiment with your own calendar. Take what you like, and trash the rest.

Generate a List of Alternate Sermon Titles

Sermon titles don’t always pique people’s interest. A lesson titled “Lessons From the Philippian Jailor” doesn’t pack quite the same punch as “From Chains to Freedom: Insights from the Philippian Jailer.”

One has style, the other seems like an afterthought (hopefully both have substance, though).

If you’re struggling to come up with a unique title for your sermon, ask ChatGPT to come up with a list of alternate titles. Find the one that appeals to your audience the most, or mix and match to come up with just the right one.

ChatGPT Should Never Replace Sermon Preparation

Allow me to clarify one point: ChatGPT should never — EVER — be used as a replacement for work. Preaching isn’t just about memorizing a few points, it is — as one preacher put it — “storming the will.” It’s calling people to action, warning of danger and filling with hope.

The preacher that uses ChatGPT as an excuse to be lazy won’t last long with a church. Moreover, it’s an insult to the God that died to give us the hope of Heaven.

The preacher that uses it wisely — as a research tool, brainstorming assistant, or proofreader (among others) — will find it to be a huge help. A gamechanger, even.

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