How AI Can Help With Ideas and Prep

AI content generators are creating quite a dilemma in school and university classrooms. One educator mistakenly tried to use ChatGPT to tell him whether or not it had authored the students’ essays. In fact, ChatGPT doesn’t work like that, and its willingness to claim their essays as its own created a problem when he failed much of the class.

It is absolutely the case that Artificial Intelligence chatbots can generate mind-blowing amounts of content on nearly any subject in the world. The way it works is that you give the AI chatbot a prompt, and it responds by trying to fill your request.

Two of the main options in this category are:

If Google could Google Google

In my opinion, the experience feels a lot like receiving a nice summary of the main responses for a Google search on any topic. Generally, the responses I’ve seen are surface level, as if a person spent an afternoon reading a few key articles to try and understand a topic. I’m going to provide a few examples of some of the kinds of prompts I’ve tried, and I’ll copy and paste some of the results to demonstrate how it works.

“Suggest five possible titles for a series about Ephesians”

Google Bard responds:

Here are five possible titles for a sermon series about Ephesians:

  1. Ephesians: The Mystery of the Gospel
  2. Ephesians: The Church, the Body of Christ
  3. Ephesians: The Armor of God
  4. Ephesians: The Life of Love
  5. Ephesians: The Hope of Glory

These titles are all based on key themes in the book of Ephesians, and they would provide a good framework for a sermon series that explores the rich theology and practical application of this important book of the Bible.

Here is a brief overview of each title:

  • Ephesians: The Mystery of the Gospel – This title highlights the central theme of the book of Ephesians, which is the mystery of the gospel. This mystery is that God has chosen to save people from all nations through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This message is a mystery because it is beyond human understanding, but it is also the greatest news in the world.
  • Ephesians: The Church, the Body of Christ – This title emphasizes the importance of the church in the life of the Christian. The church is the body of Christ, and it is through the church that we are able to grow in our faith, learn to love one another, and serve the world.
  • Ephesians: The Armor of God – This title focuses on the importance of spiritual warfare in the life of the Christian. Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that we are engaged in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil. In this battle, we need to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand firm against the enemy.
  • Ephesians: The Life of Love – This title highlights the importance of love in the Christian life. Paul writes in Ephesians 5 that love is the greatest gift that we can give to one another. Love is the foundation of the Christian community, and it is the power that transforms the world.
  • Ephesians: The Hope of Glory – This title points to the future hope that we have as Christians. Paul writes in Ephesians 2 that we are saved by grace through faith, and that we are destined to spend eternity with God. This hope gives us strength to endure the challenges of life, and it motivates us to live for God today.

These are just a few possible titles for a sermon series about Ephesians. There are many other ways to approach this book, and the best approach will depend on the needs of the congregation. However, these titles provide a good starting point for a sermon series that will help people to grow in their understanding of this important book of the Bible.

“Why are the Nashville Predators a respectable hockey franchise?”

ChatGPT responds:

The Nashville Predators are considered a respectable hockey franchise for several reasons:

  1. Consistent Success: Since their inception in 1998, the Predators have achieved a remarkable level of consistency and success. They have made the playoffs in multiple seasons and have become known as a team that is consistently competitive. Making the playoffs on a regular basis is a significant achievement in the highly competitive National Hockey League (NHL), and the Predators have established themselves as a team that can compete with the best.
  2. Strong Fanbase: Nashville has developed a passionate and dedicated fanbase that supports the team through thick and thin. The Predators’ home games at the Bridgestone Arena are known for their lively atmosphere, with enthusiastic crowds that contribute to the team’s success. The support of the fans has helped the Predators build a strong hockey culture in the city and has contributed to the team’s reputation as a respectable franchise.
  3. Community Involvement: The Predators organization is actively involved in the Nashville community, engaging in various charitable and community initiatives. They have developed programs to promote youth hockey and support local organizations, making a positive impact beyond the hockey rink. Their commitment to community involvement enhances their reputation and demonstrates their dedication to the city and its residents.
  4. Strong Leadership: The Predators have had stable and effective leadership over the years. From ownership to coaching staff, the organization has shown a commitment to building a successful team. Their leadership has made sound decisions, including hiring skilled coaches, general managers, and scouting staff to build a competitive roster.
  5. Player Development: The Predators have a strong track record of developing and nurturing talent. They have drafted and developed several players who have become key contributors to the team’s success. The organization’s emphasis on player development has helped them build a strong foundation for sustained success.
  6. Innovative Approach: The Predators are known for their innovative and analytical approach to the game. They have embraced advanced statistics and analytics to gain a competitive edge. Their commitment to using data-driven decision-making has helped them identify undervalued players, make strategic roster moves, and optimize their performance on the ice.

Overall, the Nashville Predators’ combination of consistent success, strong fanbase, community involvement, leadership, player development, and innovative approach have contributed to their reputation as a respectable hockey franchise.

What are some best practices for teaching teenagers the Bible in an engaging way?

ChatGPT responds:

When teaching teenagers the Bible, it’s important to create an engaging and relevant learning experience that captures their attention and fosters their spiritual growth. Here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Relate to their lives: Connect the teachings of the Bible to the teenagers’ everyday experiences and challenges. Help them understand how the biblical principles can guide their decision-making, relationships, and personal development.
  2. Use interactive activities: Incorporate interactive activities such as group discussions, role-plays, debates, and hands-on projects. These activities encourage active participation, critical thinking, and personal reflection.
  3. Incorporate multimedia: Utilize multimedia resources such as videos, music, visual aids, and online tools to enhance engagement. Multimedia can help bring biblical stories to life and make complex concepts more accessible and relatable.
  4. Encourage questions and dialogue: Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where teenagers feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their thoughts. Foster open discussions and encourage peer-to-peer interaction to promote a deeper understanding of the Bible.
  5. Personal application: Guide teenagers in applying biblical principles to their own lives. Help them explore how the teachings can impact their relationships, character development, and decision-making processes. Encourage them to set personal goals based on their biblical understanding.
  6. Use age-appropriate resources: Select age-appropriate Bible translations, study guides, devotionals, and supplementary materials that align with teenagers’ cognitive abilities and interests. Consider using resources that address contemporary issues relevant to their lives.
  7. Emphasize relevance: Highlight the timeless relevance of the Bible by illustrating how its teachings are applicable to the challenges teenagers face in today’s world. Show them that the Bible offers wisdom, guidance, and hope in navigating their daily lives.
  8. Encourage personal exploration: Provide opportunities for teenagers to explore the Bible independently. Recommend reading plans, suggest relevant passages for personal reflection, and provide resources that enable them to dive deeper into specific topics of interest.
  9. Foster community and mentorship: Create a sense of belonging by fostering a supportive and inclusive community among the teenagers. Encourage mentorship and small group settings where they can develop relationships with peers and adult leaders who can guide them on their spiritual journey.
  10. Model authenticity and faith: Be a role model by living out the principles and values of the Bible in your own life. Show vulnerability, share personal experiences, and be honest about your own faith journey. Authenticity can inspire teenagers and make the teachings more relatable.

Remember, the goal is not only to transmit knowledge but also to inspire a genuine love for God and a desire to live according to biblical principles. By incorporating these best practices, you can create a dynamic and engaging environment for teenagers to grow spiritually and develop a deeper understanding of the Bible.

And here is Google Bard’s response to the same question prompt:

Here are some best practices for teaching teenagers the Bible in an engaging way:

  • Choose relevant topics. When choosing Bible passages to study, consider the interests and needs of your students. What are they struggling with? What are they curious about? By choosing topics that are relevant to their lives, you’ll make the Bible more meaningful and engaging for them.
  • Use active learning methods. Don’t just lecture at your students. Instead, use active learning methods that get them involved in the learning process. This could include discussion, role-playing, games, or hands-on activities.
  • Make it personal. Help your students connect the Bible to their own lives. Ask them questions about how the passage applies to them. Share your own personal experiences and insights. By making the Bible personal, you’ll help your students see its relevance and power.
  • Use visuals. Teenagers are visual learners, so use visuals to help them understand the Bible. This could include illustrations, maps, charts, or videos.
  • Tell stories. People learn best through stories, so use stories from the Bible to engage your students. Make the stories come alive by using vivid language and gestures.
  • Create a safe space. Teenagers need to feel safe and comfortable in order to learn. Create a space where they feel free to ask questions, share their thoughts, and make mistakes.
  • Be yourself. The most important thing is to be yourself and let your personality shine through. If you’re passionate about the Bible and excited to share it with your students, they’ll be more likely to be engaged.

Here are some Bible topics that you may want to consider teaching teenagers:

  • The life of Jesus Christ: This is a great place to start, as it’s the central story of the Bible.
  • The Ten Commandments: These are foundational principles for living a moral and ethical life.
  • The parables of Jesus: These stories teach important lessons about God, life, and relationships.
  • The book of Psalms: These poems express a wide range of emotions, from joy to sorrow to hope.
  • The book of Proverbs: These wise sayings offer practical advice on how to live a good life.

No matter what topics you choose, make sure to use the best practices above to engage your students and help them learn about the Bible in a meaningful way.

Pretty Good, But Not Yet Able Completely to Replace Humans

I’ve been favorably impressed with the quality of Chatbot resposes and content. I continue to be impressed how with each new category I think of to prompt with, the chatbot programs consistently provide a satisfying response.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains how your brain is designed to have faster thinking processes, which are more conditioned and automatic, and slower thinking processes, which we must intentionally engage to make happen. It’s part of why you could miss a major change in your home decorations or along a drive you make every day. The places where your brain can automatically show an internal film, you will see a version of what you always see, and only with intentional effort can you engage with what’s around you and see it more clearly.

But either type of thinking can still be a drain on your energy and mental resources. In my opinion, a real benefit of using AI chatbots is that they can provide excellent starting points and initial brainstorming. A quick list of reasons and basic analysis can be useful to have in hand as you consider how to go deeper. I’ve found I’m able to reserve my more focused concentration for the weightier matters of what I’m thinking and writing about. It doesn’t bother me at all to take a few suggestions for how I might consider dividing up a Biblical book to study, what a survey of ideas could be about key themes in a portion of Scripture, or some ideas on what I might title my study. Having helpful suggestions lets me save the better part of my thinking for the meat of the content I’m engaging.

It is also the case that many AI-generated articles, in my opinion, suffer from being either factually inaccurate or too clear cut. There have been some topics I have asked questions about and the chatbot responded with an opinion and a Scripture citation that when I looked it up, was incorrect, as in, the Scripture didn’t say what the chatbot quoted it as saying. Sometimes the chatbot has ended up advocating, or worse assuming, a position on a particular doctrine or text that I have totally disagreed with. On such occasions, the content has been presented as if it’s solid and reliable, and only because of my education would I know there is a problem with what’s being presented.

The typical responses often have a very canned feel to them. Well-written and intentionally organized, but also very safe and within bounds in terms of style and content, often crossing the line into the repetitive. Frequent admonitions to be reasonable, patient, open, and similar advice I’ve seen sprinkled throughout many of the responses I’ve read. I don’t believe AI on its own is yet sufficient to replace human beings, especially if we are engaging our higher thinking and creativity. Likewise, it would be a mistake to take everything gleaned from an AI article without examining the factual claims critically to be sure the information is accurate. But for basic brainstorming, ideas, analysis, and starting points for your projects, AI chatbots can be an incredible tool.

Amazingly, both of the AI options I used to create this post are available free! Especially if you have a Gmail account, you already have a Google account, and Bard is very easy to set up. Try it out and let me know what you think!

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  1. I miss you! AI is a very hot topic of conversation right now. This was another interesting blog post! Thanks Mark!

  2. Very cool stuff! You have provided a few good reasons for using AI while engaging your brain! That makes the whole idea of it easier to see the benefits of it.

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