I asked an AI to name the top 5 things that have caused drift from mission in the American Church

Recently, I asked a generative AI interface some questions about the church. If you are not familiar with the term, "Generative AI," know that this is the most common AI being discussed in our news sources and everyday conversations. Generative AI is programmed to generate creative output in the form of music, images or text based on input (which is usually also text based). This is different from other AI that are programed to selectively perform tasks based on set rules or learned data - and in essence think between those rules and data points. Rather, Generative AI uses inputed learning and neural networks to generate unique and innovative content. This specific conversation took place with the Deep AI interface.

The first question that I asked the AI was, "What do you think are the top 5 things that have caused a drift from mission in the American Church?" AI does not form opinions, and may answer this question differently each time. Though, when I asked it on May 27, it used it's inputed information and neural networks to access information and give an opinion and information that is a little less biased than we would get from a thinker, blogger, leader, or influencer on the same topic. There are a few things in the list that would have made my list as well.

This is how Deep AI answered that question - 

As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions. However, here are the top 5 things that some experts and scholars consider have caused a drift from mission in the American Church:

  1. Self-focus: Many churches have become focused on their own internal needs and programs, neglecting the mission to share the love and message of Christ with the world.
  2. Lack of evangelism: Evangelism has taken a back seat to other church priorities, such as worship, discipleship, and fellowship.
  3. Comfort and complacency: Complacency and a desire for comfort have caused many Christians to neglect the call to reach the lost and instead focus on personal comfort and satisfaction.
  4. Insularity: Many churches have become isolated from the community around them, failing to engage with the broader social and cultural issues impacting their neighborhoods.
  5. Cultural conformity: Similar to the drift in the Church as a whole, the American Church has been influenced by secular culture, leading to a decline in the priority placed on evangelism and outreach.
Now, while I echo many of these concerns, I would differ on some of the facts and information. Notably, my biggest point of differentiation would be related to No. 2. I am not sure "evangelism," should ever take a backseat to "worship," which is the chief end of mankind, and additionally I am not sure how this AI identifies the difference between evangelism and discipleship. Though, if we are talking about how we have drifted from a forward-thinking expression of missional discipleship and evangelism and exchanged it for worship celebrities, culturally relevant communities and discipleship programs (rather than life on life) than I would agree with this concern.

I would love to know why an AI can identify these concerns, and yet statistically we are continuing to pursue these programs and efforts in the church more than ever. For example, recently, an individual complained to me about the culture of celebrity worship that has emerged and distracted from the church from intimacy with the heart of God, but then they admitted that in no way could they attend a small church because the worship would be subpar. At times, I notice this sort of struggle between authenticity and performance in myself.  The AI interface suggested, "...it is possible for followers of Jesus in a particular culture to become so absorbed in the prevailing worldview and practices that they may not perceive how it deviates from the original mission of the church. This can lead to mission drift, and it is important for leaders and individuals to remain vigilant and grounded in the teachings of Jesus." 

"...so absorbed in the prevailing worldview and practices that they may not perceive how it deviates from the original mission of the church..."

For each of these five concerns, I then asked the AI interface how we can work towards a better understanding of the church. Specifically, I asked - "What Bible Verse can help to teach leaders and churches to not be (insert problem here)." This is the five verses and commentary the AI interface offered for us as followers of Jesus.
  • One Bible verse that can help teach leaders and churches to not be self-focused is Philippians 2:3 which says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." This verse encourages leaders and churches to prioritize the needs and well-being of others over their own desires or ambitions, and to approach their work with a humble and servant-oriented attitude.
  • One Bible verse that can help teach leaders and churches to be focused on evangelism is Mark 16:15, which says, "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" This verse encourages leaders and churches to spread the message of the Gospel to all people and to prioritize evangelism as an important aspect of their mission and purpose.
  • One Bible verse that can help teach leaders and churches to avoid comfort and complacency is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, which says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." This verse encourages leaders and churches to remain disciplined and focused, not becoming too comfortable or complacent, but rather striving towards their goals with intention and purpose.
  • One Bible verse that can help teach leaders and churches to avoid insularity is Matthew 28:19-20, which says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." This verse encourages leaders and churches to look beyond their own community or group, and to spread the message of the Gospel to people from different backgrounds and cultures. By doing this, they can avoid becoming insular and reach a wider range of people with the message of salvation.
  • One Bible verse that can help teach leaders and churches to avoid cultural conformity is Romans 12:2, which says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." This verse encourages leaders and churches to resist the pressure to conform to the values and practices of the surrounding culture, and to instead allow themselves to be transformed by God's truth and guidance. By doing this, they can maintain their distinct identity as followers of Christ, rather than becoming absorbed into the prevailing cultural norms of the society around them.
For the sake of length, I am going to not share my commentary, on the verses and commentary presented by the AI. Though, the AI calls us to humility, differentiation, and cross-cultural realities that I can't help but resonate with (but that doesn't mean I resonate with all of it). Additionally, at this time I am not going to share my excitement, fear and/or concerns with AI. However, this AI gives us some fodder for discussion. Where do you agree or disagree? What would make your top 5 list? I think what gives me concern is that it may be that AI just formulated for us a better answer than most followers of Jesus could formulate today. That is a discipleship issue.

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