This funny and provocative essay by the blogger at Stuff Wayne Writes asks us to consider whether robots will one day do the job of rectors. It concludes:
As far as I can tell, there is only one significant ability human ministers have that robots cannot replicate—interacting with God. Although I’m hesitant to speak for God, it seems unlikely that God’s Spirit communicates with machines (regardless of how many times I’ve prayed for God to “make this stupid printer work for once”). Assuming God won’t begin to fill robots with the Holy Spirit, human pastors still have this one unique attribute on the robots.
However, that’s a fairly niche ability, non-essential to day-to-day productivity in most of our churches. Sure, it used to be a big part of the job, but times have changed. As one of my mentors often told me, “If you take the Holy Spirit out of the book of Acts, you’d lose about 90% of the content. But, if you take the Holy Spirit out of our churches, 90% of our activities would continue unchanged.”
To adapt this observation for the impending robot revolution, if you replaced today’s pastors with robots, 90% of our activities would only improve.
So, our only chance to retain our jobs is to change the game. If ministry is about what we can produce—our sermons, songs, and services—then we’re running an unwinnable race against the machines. However, we might have a chance if we lean into our uniquely human relationship with God.
So let’s prioritize prayer more, and spend more time listening for God’s voice. Let’s read the Bible, not just to figure out how we can turn it into a top-notch lesson, but to figure out where God is calling our community. Let’s teach people how to follow God’s lead, and then listen as God speaks through them. Let’s take risks—maybe we’ll see the dead come back to life.
Or, we can continue as usual and let the robots win.
Hat tip, Kit Carlson.