Teaching higher ed vis-a-vis congregational ministry


While my undergrad degree is in Computer Information Systems, my graduate work prepared me for religious ministry. Now that my role is promoting and supporting faculty in their use of technology, I’ve often felt, and sometimes had to argue*, that there’s a lot of similarities between teaching in a university and ministering in a congregation.

Both faculty and clergy lecture or preach, and most give homework to their pupils. Both are expected to research or study in their respective fields and become authorities in their subject areas. Both depend on feedback from their constituents to know how well they’re doing in their work. Both jobs can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting, and therefore require self-care. Both academia and the church (at least the clergy) are historic ivory towers with long credentialing processes of entry. Both roles are respected as community leaders, and sometimes approached by media or primary students for their sage advice.

While there are many overlaps or commonalities, there are also some differences. Professors are subject to peer review and are often expected to publish. Ministers on the other hand may have little peer review (depending on denomination) or may be subject to periodic judicatory review. Ministers work with the same congregation–albeit with some fluctuations–year after year; teachers work with different groups of students from term to term with the whole lot changing every four years.

How do salaries compare? I have no data… I hope they’re both doing what they love. šŸ˜‰

Do you see any other points of commonality or departure?

I graduated from MTSO in 2007 (photo by DeaPeaJay)

*The one time I argued for the likeness between the two was when I was applying for the position of Instructional Technologist that I now hold here at OWU. I still feel that my training has served me well and is useful in this position.

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