In general, the job of a lecturer (under Australian terminology- I think the terminology is different in America) can be divided up into two main areas of focus: research and teaching, with the latter involving writing up lesson and assessment plans, managing your tutors, delivering lectures to hundreds of students and maybe some tutorials to a few dozen students, marking and moderating assessment, etc. My understanding is that the people hired for these roles are often PhD students or postdocs who have also worked as tutors during their time as PhD students/postdocs - their tutoring gives them teaching experience, while their work as a PhD student or postdoc gives them research experience.

However, because tutorials are generally much smaller than a full lecture, and they would often be following someone else’s lecture notes rather than writing their own, I was wondering if it might be advantageous for someone in those positions to get some experience preaching in a church? Much like a lecturer, a preacher would need to write their own lesson plans, and then deliver the content of those lessons to an audience of hundreds of individuals, in a format fairly similar to that of a university lecture.

As a result, I could see an argument about why delivering Sunday sermons would be advantageous for developing some of the skills a university lecturer would need. However, I’m not certain if it would actually work in your favour if you were to list that experience on your CV.

And so, my Question: would a typical young researcher who is seeking a lecturer role find it advantageous to list experience working as a church preacher? While religious discrimination would of course be illegal, might they find it working against them?

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    Just, for the love of God, make sure that's not your only reason to preach.
    – Mast
    Oct 8, 2019 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


Would preaching at a church help you to become a better lecturer? Almost certainly, as would any similar experience. During the later stages of my PhD I worked in a very popular small museum giving tours and answering questions from the public. I always tell my students that it was the best way for me to hone my speaking abilities: I really learned how to catch attentions and to convey information in a stimulating way. Further, answering hundreds of questions every day (some of which were strange to say the least) prepared me to diplomatically deal with whatever questions are tossed at me after lectures, talks, and conference papers. If preaching does similar for you, you'll see benefits.

Would putting preaching at a church on your CV help you land an academic job? No, except in the rare case of that being directly relevant to your teaching post: e.g. I had a housemate who did a PhD in religion, taught at a missionary training school, and landed a job at a religious affiliated Uni in the religion department...they would benefit from preaching on their CV. Just as my museum experience was considered "not lecturing", preaching would be the same. You're simply not drawing on the same pedagogical focus, nor are you teaching towards markable learning outcomes.

Edit to answer your final question. No, I truly doubt you would face any discrimination for mentioning preaching on your CV. You would, however, face panel members who would fail to see why such information is relevant on an academic CV. I didn't put my museum job on my academic CV when I was an early career researcher because it wasn't related to my academic work and was, thus, tangential.

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    I agree that panel members [may] fail to see why [preaching] is relevant, but I disagree with your conclusion that such experience need be omitted. I advocate presenting the information differently, e.g., by explaining what experience was gained. Alternatively, present the information in a covering letter, e.g., I have X years experience of public speaking to audiences of approximately Y-Z people.
    – user2768
    Oct 8, 2019 at 12:59
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    I’m going to try to phrase this carefully, and please forgive me if I don’t do so carefully enough. As someone who was once very religious, I value freedom of religion and inclusivity of people of all religions. That said, what people worry about with religious colleagues isn’t their religion, it’s whether they have appropriate boundaries between their private religious life and their professional life. Having this on your CV might be a red flag because it’s blurs that distinction. You might make people worry that you’ll preach in class. I think it’d be safer to leave it off. Oct 8, 2019 at 19:11
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    In part this is because CVs don’t let you add context. In a conversation or even a teaching statement, you could give the context that your question gives and the chances of it being seen as a red flag would be much lower. Oct 8, 2019 at 19:17
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    @NoahSnyder that probably should be a separate answer.
    – TimRias
    Oct 9, 2019 at 7:00
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    As @NoahSnyder mentions, a teaching statement is the ideal place to mention this, or any similar experiences. It’s relevant, but in an unconventional way that requires some explanation; so the place to mention it is somewhere that there’s space for the explanation.
    – PLL
    Oct 9, 2019 at 8:54

Well, any public speaking helps you develop your lecturing skills. Thankfully, as a PhD student, you will usually have more than enough chances to train this specific skill - though teaching, but also through giving research talks, speaking at seminars, and possibly at public events. Additional speaking experience outside of a university setting may of course help, but how much is a different question (and also depends on how much you still have to learn in this particular dimension).

would a typical young researcher who is seeking a lecturer role find it advantageous to list experience working as a church preacher?

Not really, no - but not because of religious discrimination. Firstly, despite the name, the practical skill of "lecturing" isn't key in the assessment of future lecturers in the first place - your research agenda and overall teaching evaluations carry significantly more weight than whether you are extremely good at this individual element of teaching. Secondly, you seem to be overestimating how different it really is to speak in front of a few hundred people in contrast to 20 or 40 (something that any PhD has typically routinely done during their studies). A larger crowd may initially be intimidating, but in my experience this feeling passes relatively quickly, and then it really does not matter if you are talking in front of a handful of people or a full classroom. In that sense I can't imagine that whether you have been preaching or not makes any real difference to a selection committee.

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    I would think there's a big difference between preaching, where it doesn't seem like the audience is invited to ask questions very often, vs lecturing in a teaching context. Oct 10, 2019 at 20:57

Yes and no. It could even be a terrible hindrance

Personally it will help you develop communication skills and give you experience reading the public and to modulate your voice. BUT it could hinder your career and damage your reputation.

As @GrotesqueSI mentioned, mentioning that sort of experience would, at best, not be relevant. But at worst it would be a direct affront to science, progress and academia. After all, humans can divide atoms and re-engineer genes, but here is a primitive 'scammer' that has been at selling 'the opium of societies' to people to keep them like controllable lambs ready for the slaughter. Yes, I know it sounds extreme and exaggerated, but it's not unrealistic and the opinion on religion would vary from countries, institutions and individuals. None the less, churches are independent lucrative organizations normally not associated with universities.

More so, in many countries, by law, its illegal to preach religion in (public) schools, and the school authorities would see you as a possible violator of laws.

Another reason for not consider preaching as experience or at least not mention it, its that the public is quite different. Religious people dont go to church to learn and be educated, nor do they ask questions or establish debates on the topics like it happens in classrooms, academic conferences/symposiums or seminars. So the experience would not be relevant.

Rather than churches perhaps you could consider imparting classes on the field of your studies during weekends, even if particular ones or as a consultor. That Do counts as experience.

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