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When Jackson Carroll began “Pulpit & Pew,” his large research project on pastoral leadership, he considered pastors a “troubled profession,” and braced himself for what his investigation might reveal. But five years of study, including a major national telephone survey and 23 focus groups across the country, convinced Carroll his gloomy forecast didn’t stand up.

 

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In 2004, after nearly three decades as a pastor, the Rev. John Terpstra found himself straining to find joy and meaning in what he did for a living. He was in his early-50s and wondered what would come next.

When Jackson Carroll began “Pulpit & Pew,” his large research project on pastoral leadership, he considered pastors a “troubled profession,” and braced himself for what his investigation might reveal. But five years of study, including a major national telephone survey and 23 focus groups across the country, convinced Carroll his gloomy forecast didn’t stand up.

Even lay people can, and should, ask tough questions about polls to see if their claims match their findings. And when it comes to poll data we should all be informed consumers.

Fewer than half of the parents surveyed in a recent study said their faith community is supportive of their child with special needs. A church must include all, and here are some ways to do that.

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