When February of 2008 came around, the Watchtower Society was facing two dilemmas.
First, courts in the US were creeping closer to establishing a widespread precedent that church volunteers could trigger liability suits for their
respective religions, just as surely as if they were employees. A 17 million dollar judgement against a Catholic diocese in the midwest set the
pace in 2005 - and sent shock waves thru the Society's legal dept. It was just a matter of time before a car accident occurred involving
some elder or publisher and caused the Watchtower to be listed as a 'deep pocket' defendant. Eventually, publishers and elders in particular
would be seen as agents of local circuits, if not the Society itself - which put pressure on them to de-emphasize the door to door "ministry"
in most developed nations.
Second, while the expulsion of old Bethelites helped with expenses, the fact remained that contributions continued to sag - and general
expenses continued to move upward. Simply selling off real estate to prop up the printing of the Awake magazine was not seen as
reasonable. In addition, some Governing Body members thought little of the Awake and actually reasoned ( in private) that such a
shortage of revenue was a sign from Jehovah that the End was finally at hand! ( although other members harbored no such illusions).
In response, The Watchtower sent out letters downplaying the door to door work, in favor of telephone witnessing, informal witnessing,
letter writing - and using only the Bible when going door to door ( as a means of detaching themselves from publishers, who didn't offer any
Watchtower literature). After they dumped the publication of the Awake, this was melded into a strident appeal to emphasize the
Bible itself - while also dropping the Watchtower printing down to about 12 million per issue.
While the "Preaching work" continued technically - and emphasized tracts more than ever - the fact is, it was reduced to the level
of many churches in Christendom. It became obvious , even to the Society, that the huge numbers of hours still reported were simply
a fiction. It also became increasingly evident to publishers that the Governing Body and its helpers had little interest in the congregations,
as they were content to exploit the Watchtower's assets for personal travel, luxury, and stocking their liquor cabinets.
They stopped reporting world wide statistics and quietly allowed congregations to become "autonomous". A few became "born again",
some joined Adventist groups and most just faded away. By 2020, the average American didn't know what a "Jehovah's Witness" ever was.