7 Insights On How Churches Are Adopting AI In 2024 

July 1, 2024

In 2024, Exponential AI NEXT partnered with AIforChurchLeaders.com, Church Tech Today, Gloo, and other leading organizations to conduct a national survey of church leaders regarding AI usage today. The goal was to measure how perspectives and adoption rates may have shifted recently as generative AI capabilities continued advancing and more churches experimented with the solutions available.

This 2024 State of AI in the Church Survey drew input from a wide range of churches across denominations, involving respondents in a variety of ministry roles like pastors, staff members, volunteers, and lay leaders. The comprehensive questionnaire covered current AI usage, favored tools and applications, perceived benefits, ethical concerns, policy needs, training requirements, and more.

The responses provide a window into the evolving state of AI adoption and changing attitudes within churches as they navigate this technological shift. While enthusiasm is growing around AI’s potential to enhance ministry efforts, the data also reveals persistent apprehensions around ethical implications that need to be addressed through prudent policies and best practices.

By taking a deeper look at these 2024 survey findings, church leaders can gain valuable insights to inform their own AI integration strategies. The results highlight emerging needs, challenges, and opportunities as faith communities strive to harness AI’s capabilities responsibly in spiritual contexts.

The 2024 data reveals several notable shifts and trends:

1. Increased Utilization Across Use Cases In The Church

The data suggests that while AI adoption is growing, approximately 37 percent of churches reported leveraging AI technologies at least occasionally in a 2023 AI and the Church Survey conducted by Gloo. However, the current 2024 State of AI in the Church Survey now reports over 66 percent of church staff use AI tools occasionally, weekly, or daily. 

While usage has increased, consistent and widespread daily/weekly usage has not been achieved yet across the majority of church leaders surveyed. The variety of reported usage frequencies highlights the diverse levels of AI integration currently underway in churches. It seems that some have fully embraced the tools for daily ministry work, while others are still in exploratory phases or have not adopted AI at all.

As AI capabilities continue advancing and best practices emerge, the frequency of utilization will be an important metric to track the normalization of these technologies within ministry contexts over time. Targeted training and guidance may help increase regular AI tool usage for appropriate ministry applications among the cohorts of occasional, rare or non-users

In terms of how they are using AI tools, sermon preparation, informational/research, article generation, and content production were the top AI use cases reported.

The current survey shows growing adoption of AI for audio/video editing, data analysis, automation of administrative processes, and other use cases beyond the initial focus areas. This diversification highlights how churches are exploring AI’s potential across a widening array of ministry activities and operations.

2. Mainstream AI Tool Adoption Is Happening

Mainstream AI tools like ChatGPT (25 percent), Grammarly (13 percent), and Canva’s Magic AI features (10 percent) gained significant traction among respondents.

This suggests churches are moving beyond niche, specialized AI solutions and increasingly embracing more accessible, multi-purpose tools that can be leveraged across various ministry needs. The adoption of well-known, user-friendly platforms lowers barriers to AI experimentation.

3. Leaders Are Balancing Excitement And Ethical Concerns

A notable 87 percent of respondents were in favor of using AI for ministry purposes in 2024, in contrast to only 8.7 percent in 2023 who believed that the church should enthusiastically embrace AI.

However, fewer leaders reported ethical concerns with 19 percent highly concerned about ethical issues related to church AI usage in 2024, while in 2023, 29 percent reported that they were extremely concerned.

This data suggests a growing openness and excitement around AI’s potential to enhance ministry effectiveness, balanced by persistent ethical apprehensions around ensuring these technologies align with spiritual values when applied to religious contexts.

4. Training On Tools & Best Practices Is Needed

While AI adoption increased from 2023 to 2024, the variety of tool usage across different use cases highlighted the need for guidance on maximizing AI’s benefits responsibly.

This aligns with the 58 percent of respondents who indicated they believed in the need for moderate to extensive training on effective AI integration into their church. Church-specific resources like AI for Church Leaders’ monthly workshops and Exponential’s AI NEXT content series are emerging to meet this demand for best practices.

Respondents identified the following categories of training as most valuable:

  • Training on specific AI tools
  • Building communication tools and workflows
  • Content creation and design
  • Fundamentals of AI

5. Perspectives on Integration Are Evolving

In 2023, 41.39 percent felt the church should moderately leverage AI for ministry, while 16.72 percent wanted to resist its use altogether. In 2024, 87 percent indicated a positive posture toward AI in ministry with any and all degrees of use suggesting a more embracing stance was taking hold.

As churches gained more experience with AI, they recognized its potential while adopting a nuanced approach – neither fully resisting nor aggressively embracing the technologies. A balanced, ethical integration strategy was emerging as the preferred path forward.

6. Ethical Concerns Persist For Churches

Despite the increasing adoption of AI tools, there remained significant ethical concerns among respondents still in 2024:

  • 19 percent were highly concerned about ethical concerns related to using AI in churches, less than levels seen in the 2023 survey.
  • 64 percent were somewhat concerned about the ethical implications of AI usage for ministry purposes.

This data indicates that nearly 83 percent of respondents had some level of ethical concern around integrating AI technologies into spiritual activities and church operations.

The variety of AI tool usage across different use cases highlighted in the 2024 survey underscores the versatility of these technologies, which in turn infers the necessity for articulated guidance on navigating the ethical complexities that arise when applying AI to areas of most concern to participants in the survey, which include:

  • Moral and theological implications
  • Replacement of human interactions
  • Privacy and data security
  • Bias and discrimination

This highlights the importance of developing ethical frameworks and best practices for responsible implementation across different ministry applications, establishing clear guidelines and policies as well as providing in-depth training resources to equip church leaders.

7. The Path Forward For AI Adoption By Churches

The 2024 data also showed significant opportunities for churches in the short term:

  • 40 percent of respondents indicated their church has an AI policy, or is open to considering one.
  • 35 percent said they haven’t yet, but are planning on leading their teams / staff to discuss the topic of AI in ministry work.
  • 42 percent shared that the #1 factor that would encourage AI adoption is the availability of training / education for ministry contexts
  • 58 percent identified the need for moderate to extensive training on AI to integrate it into their church effectively.
  • 29 percent indicated that seeing other churches use it / use case examples would drive their own adoption of AI

Addressing these factors through education, open dialogue, and participation in peer-to-peer communities are some of the best ways to address the ongoing challenge of AI adoption in the church.

While churches embraced AI more robustly in 2024 across various use cases and tools, they continued balancing excitement over AI’s potential with ethical concerns. Exploring AI NEXT’s educational resources is one way that pastors and leaders can begin to increase proficiency as well as address these issues at large.

Kenny Jahng

Kenny Jahng

Kenny Jahng is the Editor-in-Chief of ChurchTechToday.com and founder of AiForChurchLeaders.com. He is deeply committed to helping ministries connect with the right audiences. Kenny is also the Chief Clarity Officer at Big Click Syndicate, a strategic marketing advisory firm. He holds certifications as a StoryBrand Copywriter Guide and Jasper AI expert, and is the creator of the A.R.T. of Engagement content marketing framework, which has helped ministries worldwide build stronger connections with their audiences. With a passion for empowering Christian leaders to achieve their marketing goals, Kenny can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram or via BigClickSyndicate.com.
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