Is the WT really hemorrhaging members?

by GentlyFeral 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • GentlyFeral

    While reading one of Gumby's threads today, I figured out how to articulate something that's been bothering me about our analysis of WT statistics for a long time:

    The supposedly "missing" publishers.

    Recall your own first year of field slavery: you needed to be going out in service regularly, and turning in time, before you even qualified for baptism, didn't you? So you showed up in the Society's "publisher" column before you showed up in the "baptism" column.

    Everyone seems to overlook this – that virtually all of those baptized in a given year have already showed up as publishers in the previous year's service report, if not earlier. So doesn't this mean the whole Baptisms - (ThisYear'sPublishers - LastYear'sPublishers) = Loss equation is invalid? And that the only figure that matters is the number of average publishers from year to year?

    gently feral

  • IP_SEC
    Is the WT really hemmorhaging members?

    I've heard it directly from the horses mouth.

    The society makes it very hard to be accurate in counting growth and loss by the distinction betwixt UBPs and BPs. The over all growth/decline isnt completely directly linked to new baptisms.

  • eyeslice

    I am not sure that 'hemorrhaging' would be quite the right word. Hemorrhaging, literally is acute, very rapid and substantial blood loss.

    My feeling is that most congregations in the developed western world are at best stagnant and at worst in slow decline. Most congregations have a core of diehards who will never leave. However, round the edges, the WT is finding it increasingly difficult to motivate the rank and file to do yet more 'end of the world' preaching.

    If you look at the growth figures for the west, it must be obvious even to the Governing Body, that the huge amount of effort put into the preaching work is totally fruitless. The majority of those baptized are Witness kids so what a waste all those hours of fields service must be.


  • garybuss

    I believe number of publishers and number of baptized are not related. I started as a publisher when I was 7 years old and reported every month thanks to my parents. I wasn't baptized until I was 12. I could have started and stopped being a publisher three times BEFORE I was baptized.

  • jgnat

    OK, it's not a hemhorrage, it's a slow leak. I agree that

    Baptisms - (ThisYear'sPublishers - LastYear'sPublishers) = Loss

    won't be entirely accurate, but the exceptions would make it look worse, not better, for them. Since publishers are added BEFORE baptism, this year's publishers will be slightly higher than this year's baptisms. But we don't have the data to make an accurate head count. To be accurate it would have to be:

    Publishers added - (ThisYear'sPublishers - LastYear'sPublishers) = Loss


    Baptisms - (Deaths+Left) = Loss

  • willyloman

    I suspect it varies from place to place. If the place you live has substantially fewer dubs than, say, 10 years ago, you are convinced their numbers are dwindling rapidly. I can only speak to the handful of congos I'm familiar with. In every case, their attendance has either remained the same or gone way down over the past decade. Perhaps a lot of people moved; however, we live in an area with substantial population growth which should have more than made up for that.

    So, from where I sit, the dubs are visibly losing members. I hope that'sthe case elsewhere since I'd love to think many others are gaining the freedom I'm enjoying. But it doesn't really matter to me whether they disappear or not. They are irrelevant to me now.

  • Honesty

    I like to examine it from a 'Circuit' point of view.

    When I first joined the club there were approximately 3200 publishers in the circuit. As time passed, especially after 1995 the circuit was 'simplified' in that other congregations were added from other circuits and some were moved to other circuits. The last Circus A$$embly I attended had approximately 1600 attendees. I find it incredible that about half of the 3200 from my first Circus A$$embly had been assimilated into other circuits and at the same time 'growth' had not improved attendance figures.

  • willyloman

    honesty: ditto for me, from a circuit point of view. Ten years ago, our circuit attracted 1700 to 1800 dubs. The last one I went to, more than two years ago, had 1400. There have been no "adjustments" to the makeup of the circuit, in terms of congos. And this is in an area where the population has at least doubled in that time, so you'd think that move-ins alone would create substantial growth. At the very least, it would certainly offset the number of people leaving.

    The real eye-opener is when you contrast that with the previous decade. Twenty years ago, we were in a congo with about 65 publishers. Ten years later, the congo had grown dramatically, then split, and both congos totalled about 260 pubs. Today, there are still two congos there and the total attendance is just under 240, despite the fact that the area has since enjoyed one of the highest population increases in the western U.S. Ironically, it was similar population growth and move-ins that sparked the big increase in the previous decade. But in the last 10 years that just didn't happen.

    This spells a problem for JWs, in my opinion. To illustrate using hypothetical (but to scale) numbers:

    If the population of an area is 100,000 and there are 150 dubs there, and the population booms to 200,000 at which time there are 300 dubs there, you would expect that when the population hits 600,000 there would be 600 dubs. But in fact, there are 275. Clearly, the train has left the tracks.

  • JH

    Once the "die hards" die of old age, there will be a rapid decline in numbers and quality.

  • joelbear

    who knows?

    they count people who count time, as little as 15 minutes.

    i actually think the memorial attendance minus average publishers number is the most telling. it shows how many people think of themselves as witnesses but do not actively participate.

    who knows if they even report the numbers honestly.

    what is more important is how much influence they have over x amount of people's lives. even witnesses who count time show a smaller amount of influence over their lives. they want influence because they want time, they want time because they want them to sell books.

    the most important numbers to the watchtower is the number of publications placed and amount of donations received. that is the core.

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