Artificial Intelligence and Baptist Associations

Artificial intelligence applications like ChatGPT are growing fast. The creators themselves are surprised by the rapidly growing interest in this resource. Part of their surprise is that the accuracy rate is still not where they think it will be anytime soon.

I use ChatGPT as a research and background tool. I asked what she knew about Baptist organizations. On February 26, 2023, I asked the following question: What is the importance of Baptist organizations to the Southern Baptist Convention?

Here’s what ChatGPT said:

“Baptist associations are important to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for several reasons.

“First, they provide a way for local churches to network and work together in mission and service. Associations typically consist of a group of churches in a geographic area that share common beliefs and practices. By coming together in one association, churches can pool their resources and work together on projects that would be difficult to manage alone.”

“Communication and Cooperation”

“Second, clubs serve as a channel for communication and collaboration between local churches and the larger SBC. Associations are usually affiliated with a state convention, which in turn is affiliated with the SBC. This structure allows the churches to participate in the work of the Convention and have a voice in its decision-making processes.

“Third, associations provide funds to train and support pastors and other church leaders. Many associations offer workshops, conferences, and other resources to help pastors and leaders develop their skills and deepen their understanding of Baptist theology and practice.

“Overall, Baptist organizations play an important role in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention by connecting local churches, facilitating collaboration and communication, and providing support and training to church leaders.”

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I have posted the answer on social media groups for the Baptist Network and elsewhere. I asked if ChatGPT got it right. The response has been positive – some commented it was almost scary.

Was it complete and correct? No, but it would point a questioner in a generally correct direction.

What does that mean?

So the Internet contains enough information to get a first understanding of Baptist organizations in the Southern Baptist tradition.

The use of the phrase “in the Southern Baptist tradition” is important because many of the three dozen Baptist churches in North America have associations as part of their denominational structure.

First, artificial intelligence apps like ChatGPT are helpful in summarizing information about Baptist unions in the Southern Baptist tradition. But they should not be accepted as authoritative. Baptist clubs as a family have a relationship quality that ChatGPT does not know.

Second, AI answers are incomplete.

Sometimes they lack qualitative understanding. Such understanding requires subjective experience. The contextual and doctrinal understanding of associations varies widely across North America.

Third, AI can provide properties that the requester had not thought of. This can be informative, or at least make a reader think when they need to think more deeply about associations.

Fourth, the answers to certain questions we ask ChatGPT may change with each new update to the app’s content database.

Fifth, an AI app’s response should never be written or spoken without attribution. Attribution is mandatory. I put quotes around the answer that AI gave me. I also dated when the information was accessed and the specific app I used.

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For federated churches and for individual churches and their leaders, artificial intelligence apps can be a great source of initial research on any topic relevant to church and denominational ministry.

warning notice

For some religious, spiritual, and theological questions, the app includes a warning in its response that it is not an expert on the question being asked or the subject matter of the query. This is ethical and responsible.

One phrase I see in response to questions asked to ChatGPT is “As a language model AI, I have no personal opinions or beliefs.”

Let’s all be so ethical and responsible in our speaking and writing.

Use ChatGPT and other similar apps for research, background information and to stimulate your thinking – but always remember that your knowledge of our Kingdom relationships is far richer.