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God's Potters

Pastoral ministry is an occupation in flux. In this comprehensive study Jackson Carroll considers the many factors -- changing roles among clergy and laypeople, the opening of ordination to women, an increasing shortage of clergy, and more -- that are shaping congregations and ministers today. Building on Paul's image of Christians as "clay jars," Carroll paints a portrait of "God's potters" -- pastors whose calling is to form their congregational jars so that they reveal rather than hide God's treasure.

A veteran clergy watcher, Carroll uses data from what is likely the most representative survey of Protestant and Catholic clergy ever undertaken, as well as focus group interviews and congregational responses, to take a hard look at who is doing ministry today, what it involves, and how pastors are faring in leading their congregations. Significantly, his study covers clergy from a broad range of traditions -- Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black churches.

Replete with pertinent tables and figures, "God's Potters" culminates with specific strategies for strengthening pastoral leadership and nurturing excellence in ministry.

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About the Author

Jackson W Carroll is the Ruth W and A Morris Williams Jr Professor Emeritus of Religion and Society and recently retired as director of Pulpit and Pew: Research on Pastoral Leadership at Duke Divinity School.


The Christian Century -Carroll combines his own sage insights with the responses of focus groups to define excellence in ministry and to suggest means to encourage and sustain it. His section on 'Some Marks of Excellent Ministry' is alone worth the price of the book; it will be required reading in every ministry course I teach.-William H. Willimon -- Bishop of North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church -Jack Carroll has been listening to us pastors through his massive Pulpit & Pew survey. This illuminating book details what we have learned about ourselves and what this master church observer thinks about us as leaders in congregational formation.-

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