Jul 19, 2023

Barna CEO David Kinnaman on Our Plans to Explore AI

Yet another major technological advance is here—the widespread use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

For some time, our team has been using the phrase “digital Babylon” to describe our complex, algorithm-driven, always-connected culture. Just a few years ago, in our book Faith for Exiles, my co-author Mark Matlock and I asserted that “screens disciple.” At the time, we wrote, “Digital Babylon moves at the pace of fiber optics, and the idol is fitting in and being up to speed.”

We couldn’t have known just how much the pace would quicken. Since then, the world has navigated a pandemic that accelerated the forces of digitization—and isolation—in our culture.

Now, society is recognizing that the once far-off possibilities of artificial intelligence have rapidly become the reality of our present.

As never before, Christian leaders and the people they serve are wrestling with what it means to follow Jesus in the digital age. It’s increasingly essential to know how to live what our friend Andy Crouch calls “a tech-wise life.” These are just some of the reasons I believe that understanding what AI means for ministry will be vitally important to the future of the Church and our communities.

Whether you’re compelled, curious, confused or concerned about these new technologies, you probably have a lot of questions—about how AI might influence your day-to-day life, your job, your family, your worship gatherings and so on.

At Barna, we believe in the power of asking good questions. And our team is hard at work with plans to produce fresh research and thoughtful resources about technology and AI.

In the coming months, you can expect to see ongoing reporting on trends and perspectives of AI, conversations with trusted pastors and experts, as well as learning opportunities for you or your team. We’re also grateful to be showing up alongside our partners at Gloo to lend some of our insights to their “AI & the Church Initiative.”

Our hope is to cut through the noise and to provide clarity and creativity in an ever-evolving culture.

Living and leading well in digital Babylon is about more than keeping up. It’s about faithfully approaching the challenges and opportunities of our time, so we each can experience personal flourishing, community transformation and a renewed Church.

Barna CoLab | AI & Tech in Your Church

Determining the Role New Technologies Play in Your Ministry

Stay tuned for more on this topic in the near future—and in the meantime, here are three ways to get involved:

  • To help you work through the questions you may have about AI and reach conclusions that align with your beliefs and goals, we’re hosting a six-week CoLab dedicated to exploring the role of tech and AI in church ministry. Register today to reserve your spot.
  • Help us shape the research. Fill out this brief form and tell Barna what you’d like to know about tech and AI.
  • If you’re a church leader, you can also take this 5-minute AI & the Church assessment, hosted by our partners at Gloo, designed to help us hear about your use of AI and how you feel about it.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.

© Barna Group, 2023.

About the Author

David Kinnaman is the CEO of Barna Group. He is the author of the bestselling books Faith For Exiles, Good Faith, You Lost Me and unChristian.

Connect with David Kinnaman

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