Mary, I'm in the same situation as you, having elderly JW parents. I've been inactive for almost 30 years, My parents know the reasons I left, but I never DAed myself because I didn't want to give the WTS the satisfaction and because I wanted to stay in touch with my parents. If the WT DFs the inactive, my parents will have to choose whether to stay in contact with me, a very stressful and wrenching decision to have to make at their stage in life. I haven't fully thought through all the possible outcomes if this happens, but it looks like I'd better start thinking about it.
Statistical effect of disassociating the inactive
I'm just really not buying this. I don't think there's any significant motivation for them to attempt such an administrative nightmare. Plus: How to define "inactive?" The Society's definition of that term is "one who does not engage in the field ministry." That means there are many attending the meetings who are inactive by the Society's definition. Would this include them, too?
A token 15 minutes of field service once every six months would prevent inactivity. I can now see elders asking: "Can you not recall 15 minutes of talking about the kingdom in the last half year?" That would prevent you from being labeled "inactive". You would simply be irregular.
Parakeet, don't worry. To date, there is no proof or evidence that the WTS intends to consider the inactive having da'd themselves. The focus in the publications is still to get these people back. I wonder how the WTS will get past the scriptures on finding the one lost sheep out of the 99 who remain? When the WTS starts applying the scriptures in Matthew 18:12 and Luke 15:4-7 differently than they do below, then we might be concerned. The WTS never just jumps into a new application, they always soften up the rank and file.
The psalmist wanted to keep living and praising Jehovah, but in some undisclosed way, he had ?wandered like a lost sheep.? (Psalm 119:175, 176) Some who have wandered away from the Christian congregation may still love God and may want to praise him. Let us therefore do all we can to help them so that they may again find spiritual security and experience the joy of praising Jehovah with his people.?Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 5:6, 7.
EncouragingtheInactive: The elders make a special effort to encourage those who have become irregular or inactive, helping them to return to regular participation in all congregation activity. Loving shepherding calls have helped many to attend congregation meetings regularly and become built up spiritually to the point where they are sharing again in the field ministry. All such efforts on the part of the elders reflect Jehovah?s loving care and the active leadership of Jesus Christ. He set the pattern of showing such concern for any of his sheep who may have strayed or got lost.?Matt. 18:12-14; John 10:16, 27-29.
Brooklyn loves the stats and it would be good for them, but it would have a devastating long-term effect; all of those who reactivated just to keep their families would be a very poor influence on everybody else. These people would also wear down pretty quickly - they were happily invisible and now they have to punch their card every month again and go to all these meetings; it wouldn't last. They won't go out without a fight, and they'll take a lot of people with them. As I haven't quite recovered my compassion for JWs I say bring it on. They do love a bit of melodrama, it's almost like being persecuted.
I was at some friends' house last night. They're ex-Dubs but never DF'd. Their son is an elder in another congregation, so Dave kinda asked him about any "big announcement" that might be upcoming. His son said it had something to do with the tract and "false religion", so I have a feeling that it's not going to be anything about shunning inactive members. Maybe they're going to annouce (again) that "Millions Now Living Will Never Die", or some such crap.
The Society is famous for circulating rumours, trying to get everyone all excited about nothing. For example, it was either last year or the year before, my sister and BIL were "invited" to a "Special Talk" where rumours were (naturally) flying about as to what this Special Talk was about. Had the Great Tribulation started? Should they start stocking up on provisions for when Gog turns on the Witnesses? Turns out, the "Special Talk" was nothing more than a culmination of experiences of brothers in foreign lands. That was it. Several Dubs were angry that they "wasted" their afternoon, because they were still expected to go to the Bookstudy that morning, then out in Service, then drive 2 hours to attend a meeting showing what slackers they are when you compare them to the brothers in Third World countries.
So I have a feeling that whatever announcement the WTS is going to make in the next month or so, will be like a puff of smoke that will peter out practically before it's announced.
They have already set limits to their use of the illustration of the one leaving the ninety-nine. If I "fade" and in my "spiritually weakened" state I do something "unchristian," i.e. something in violation of the arbitrary rules of the Governing Body ... such as celebrate a birthday ... and it becomes known, then whether or not I have wandered away will have little impact on whether they require repentance and reactivation (as part of demonstrating repentance) in order for me to avoid being disfellowshipped.
All I am suggesting is that they will make a doctrinal division between those who have wandered away that can be brought back and those who have wandered away and have been eaten by the wolves, have placed themselves beyond the care of the shepherds. The difference would be in the response of the individual sheep. In this line of reasoning, if they don't respond to the shepherds (don't reactivate), they aren't Jesus' sheep. The line of reasoning is aleady used with inactive ones that engage in what the WTS calls "gross wrongdoing" so, in my opinion, it isn't really all that great a stretch. Reactivating is one of the absolute requirements to avoid disfellowshipping in such a case.
AuldSoul, remember what I said was the the WTS always conditions or prepares the rank and file for changes such as you propose. To date, I have not seen that in the WTS publications. The WTS also surmised in the 1950's that it was too bad that they could not stone wrongdoers...so far the WTS has not instituted that policy nor pursued it any farther or any longer in its publications.
It would take some conditioning to make rank and file with inactive relatives to accept a change like this. I know of at least 5 elders who still associate with df'd family members and several rank and file who do the same. The question is how many hours, how many meetings (more than the 1 hour monthly that is obligatory now for physically healthy JWs; how many meetings, all five weekly, how many can be missed, do they need to get a written excuse from an elder?)
No, I personally believe based on what the WTS has in print currently, that they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they forced inactive JWs to go back with the threat of saying that not turning in time is an act of disassociation. They would make active enemies of some of the inactive, the few that might go back would be members in name only, and even some rank and file may even do less than they are now. There are more rank and file now that do just the minimum, who bring down the average. The WTS calls them "token" witnesses. What would be the next step? Kick out JWs who only get in 1 or 2 hours a month? Is a person automatically considered having DA'd themselves at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years? Can the rank and file turn in one hour every 6 months and avoid censure? Is a person inactive because they miss meetings or because they don't turn in one hour a month to the congregation?
I don't believe that the publications or the talks by the COs/DOs support the idea that the WTS is planning consider inactive JWs as having DA'd themselves.
Now, I do know that elders visit inactive JWs with the view of provoking them to make a statement that the elders can interpret as a statement of disassociation. But then they had done that for many years.
were shunned by family; not for wrongdoing, but merely not going to meetings
Not going to meetings is considered a 'wrong doing'. To me, the ongoing distinction about what constitutes wrong-doing and where a person fits into that category in order to enforce shunning, does nothing but give power to other people to treat someone else like crap. The Watchtower can baptize and fellowship with a rapist, a liar and a thief but disfellowship and shun someone for questioning their doctrine, smoking a cigarette or one act of fornication or adultery. My relatives enforce shunning to the extreme once a person is disfellowshipped for any reason. They do not shun disassociated or inactive ones. If the word comes down that all disassociated or inactive people will be disfellowshipped if they do not return - the faders in the family will be shunned. Right now they have the privilege of family communication that disfellowshipped ones don't. Inactive ones in the family, despite multiple marriages and divorces and other 'worldly' vices, are still welcome in the Witness home and treated warmly whereas any disfellowshipped person (no matter the reason) is barred from any contact. My relatives would take the hard line and cut off all family members if the Society said to do it, because in their eyes they will be stronger Witnesses. I don't see a lot of people leaving should the WTS decide to slam the door on inactive ones - they will simply buy into the mess like they always do and continue to sacrifice their lives and families for nothing. sammieswife.
I sense that preliminary steps are being taken now to bring this change forward.
Based on what, I wonder? Sensing something from fear or emotion is one thing, having a good reason to believe it is quite another.
If they contemplated such a course, it would mean d/a'ing people who had no connection any more at all. For what good? Some of us are in contact but unless we cause any trouble they have no reason to act that way.
Not that they make any attempt to re activate me, but in their eyes there is always the possibility that I would come back to the fold. I knew one or two over the years when I was in, who came back after some years absence.