You may have seen the story from Japan about the Buddhist temple where they have asked a robot to serve as their new priest. So far Mindar, the robot, mostly just preaches the same sermon over and over, but its designers are hoping that developments in the field of artificial intelligence will lead to a cyber priest whose programming and the use of algorithms will allow it to offer spiritual advice and pastoral counseling. I would think it could be really good at balancing budgets and keeping calendars.
With my retirement planned for next year, I think I may be getting out of the clergy business just in time. But, also what an opportunity for LPC to be on the cutting edge of pastoral technology. It’s not too late for us to change the call for our October 6 congregational meeting from electing a pastor search committee to electing a pastor programming committee.
Think of it. So long as we ordered some spare battery packs, our new pastor could be at work 24 hours a day. It – the PPC will have to resolve the gender issue – could be programmed to be as sensitive in bedside manner with an ill church member as it is aggressive in dodgeball with the youth group. Assuming a good WiFi connection it could download a near endless variety of sermons. Andy Stanley or Joel Osteen one week, John Piper or Tim Keller the next.
Unlike our current human pastor, the cyber pastor could sing the classic hymns or latest praise song with equal ease and ability.
Robopastor would be amazing on mission trips. It could be programmed for house construction in Guatemala and, who knows, maybe eye surgery in Burundi.
By processing and analyzing parishioners’ words picked up by its built-in microphone, with good programming for its voice synthesized voice response, it could be appropriately sensitive to social justice issues in one conversation and passionate about evangelism in another.
What do you say, LPC, shall we go with the pastor programming committee?
Of course, there is the issue of the way God seems to like to do things. Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Deborah, David, Esther, Peter, Paul, Lydia, Priscilla. God just seems to like to use flesh and blood people to get done the things he needs to get done in our world. His own son became one of us.
So, I guess despite all the potential of being on the cutting edge of pastoral technology and the amazing efficiency machines have over people, we might as well just elect a pastor search committee and pray that God guides them as they call just the right person to be our next pastor.
See you Sunday