Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Gary Bredfeldt


Artificial Intelligence, Church, Religion, Education, Recruitment, Retention, Technology, Chatbot, New Bethlehem, Redbank Valley, Gordon Barrows, Redbank Valley Church Association


Christianity | Education


This dissertation explored the applicability of AI chatbot technology in the context of a church environment where it was used to promote an accessible and engaging online learning platform for education and ministry training. The primary objective was to develop an AI-powered chatbot to increase recruitment, improve retention, as well as support organizational sustainability as it relates to church membership. The research includes a comprehensive literature review on AI chatbot technology and its relevance to online education within the context of a religious organization. The literature review establishes the fundamentals for a theoretical framework, exploring the association between educational technology, human-computer engagement, and organizational behavior. Leveraging a mixed methods approach, the research collected insights through interviews and surveys with church leaders, members, and educators to assess the attitudes and perceptions in education and ministry training as it relates to the influence of artificial intelligence. The basis of the research involved developing an AI-powered chatbot to promote an online learning platform for the Redbank Valley Church Association in New Bethlehem, PA. The chatbot’s platform was powered by artificial intelligence to provide interactive content, personalized learning experiences, and continuous engagement to address the problem of church membership attrition. Overall, this dissertation and its research contributed to religious studies and educational technology by providing insight for religious organizations seeking to understand the challenges and benefits of innovative technologies, ministry training, enhancing educational programs, and supporting church sustainability in the digital era.