Will the change to the Watchtower be followed by a change to the meetings?

by yaddayadda 27 Replies latest jw friends

  • yaddayadda

    I expect that a significant change to the meetings is on the horizon, most probably in the form of a shift of the bookstudy from a weeknight to a condensed Saturday morning version. Some congregations already hold bookstudy groups on Saturday mornings. A universal change to this for the whole organisation make senses as it would help resolve a number of growing problems for the Society, specifically, meeting attendance is clearly diminishing at the rate of knots in the Western world, many elders are burning out and resigning because they cannot cope with all the pressure heaped up on them that so many meetings in no small measure contributes towards, and magazine 'sales' are apparently down and such a change would work in very well with the upcoming new change to the Watchtower magazine in January 2008.

    The Society is under increasing pressure to do something to boost flagging meeting attendance and to ease the burden on the elders. The Society is fully aware that the elders carry a heavy load, something starkly admitted in the 1st April 2007 Watchtower. No doubt the GB is bugged by increasing reports from the worldwide Branches of elders burning out. Historically the Society has declined to do anything realistic about this problem but this can't go on for much longer. The Society is evidently struggling with the issue of what to do about losing more and more senior 'family men' type elders that are being replaced by increasingly younger, single, MS school graduate, pioneering type elders.

    By removing the burden of having to drag the family to the bookstudy on a weeknight through combining the bookstudy with Saturday morning FS, the Society can claim to be addressing these problems. It would kill a number of birds with one stone. Firstly, The Society can say that it is trying to make the load a little less 'heavy' for elders and families by eliminating the need to attend two weeknight meetings. Meeting attendance may also be bolstered from shifting the bookstudy to Saturday morning since partificipation at the remaining weeknight meeting (the Theocratic Misery School and Service Meeting) is likely to increase. The rank and file will be more inclined to get off their chuffs to attend the TMS and SM instead of opting to sacrifice one weeknight meeting for the other, especially during winter. The TMS and SM would logically be moved to a Wednesday night. This would also have the benefit of JWs having more time for 'personal study' and bible reading. The Society is accused by outsiders of squashing desire for genuine 'personal study' and bible reading because there of so much emphasis on and time spent in relation to the meetings.

    Furthermore, as we know, there is tremendous psychological pressure (peer pressure) on JW's to attend EVERY meeting. Not attending all the meetings usually results in being treated more coldly, even being 'marked', by some in the congregation. Shifting the bookstudy to a Saturday morning, before field service, may put pressure on the slackers to get out on FS more, even if only for one hour. It may therefore have a reinvigorating effect on such slacker/inactive ones. The new version bookstudy could be a half-hour to 40 minute version to be immediately followed by magazine presentation demonstrations before everyone heads out into the 'magazine work'. This would most probably boost the Saturday morning 'magazine work' activity.

    It would make completely sense for the Society to bring in such a change in 2008 to coincide with the renewed emphasis on offering magazines that will undoubtedly accompany the change to the Watchtower in January 2008.

    You heard it from me first.

  • Gill

    I suspect that they will have to shorten the school and Service meeting rather than cut a meeting all together. They can't allow the pubs time to think inbetween meetings or they will lose more of them.

    I also suspect that they will STOP all reporting of FS and only pioneers etc will have to report, but not for a few years yet.

    The WTBTS is in the process of beginning to die. No new members to speak of and its publishing interests slowly reducing. They will collect all their financial assets together and try to 'survive' on the interest. They seem to make more than enough on their investments.

    So, no fewer meetings but much shorter meetings. Perhaps the public talk also down to half and hour and the WT study to, supposedly so that the bros have more time in FS. But they cannot cut the essential regular mind control meetings just the length of time.

  • willyloman

    Actually, we didn't hear it from you first. This has been trotted out many times before and the consensus is: Not gonna happen.

    It makes perfect sense, however. And if you were in charge of the WTS, and implemented this change, you'd be one popular guy.

    But the Society is not going to take the pressure off the dubs. As one GB member reportedly said when the idea of eliminating one weekly meeting was floated: "The friends would just watch more TV."

    Besides, the elimination of one "for the public" WT magazine doesn't change the meeting arrangement. The dubs-only WT will have all the study articles for the month.

  • minimus

    Everyone has said that the Society was going to shorten meetings or do something revolutionary. It never happens.

  • Gill

    Minimus - Do you remember when public talks and the watchtower study were one hour each. Then they were reduced to 3/4 of an hour each.

    The ministry school and service meeting used to be one hour each and they were reduced to 3/4 of an hour long also.

    Pioneers used to have to do 100 hours a month.

    Publishers ALL had to at least do 1 hour a month and now some can get away with 15 mins.

    There used to be subscriptions. There used to be 2 Awakes a month.

    They weren't allowed vaccinations.

    They weren't allowed organ transplants.

    They weren't allowed blood fractions blah de blah!

    It's all change but slowly in WT land.

    As the Wt dies there will be many more changes and reductions and eliminations.

    Didn't they once publish lots of books and now they publish 'bits of paper'.

  • willyloman

    I think Min's points was that "it hasn't happened yet," despite frequent speculation that one meeting would be eliminated. The meetings, no matter whether they are 45, 55, or 60 minutes long, are a means of control that the Society would be unlikely to surrender. But, hey, anything's possible.

  • Blueblades

    When you look back at the history of the society before they make any big changes they test the waters first.They do this by spoon feeding. They let out a little at a time, spoon feeding is the way the society got away with lots of changes over the past.


  • Gill

    I agree. As I said in the previous post, they can't cut the amount of meetings as that would losen their control of the dubs time, but they can definitely cut the length of time of the meetings just as they have done in the past. And also, change happens ALL of the time in WT land. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING stays the same in that evolving organization. It is evolving itself to death.

  • yaddayadda

    Gill, I'm not suggesting they will cut out a meeting, rather that they will simply shift the bookstudy to Saturday morning. That way they can avoid any suggestion that they are providing less spiritual food.

    Willyman, that quote by Ray Franz about one of the GB saying that the publishers will only use the extra time to 'watch tv' is an old quote, going way back to the 1970's. Any slackers who might be inclined to do this can simply be encouraged to do more 'personal study'. The Society could stimulate more personal study and self-sufficiency by the rank and file through, say, scrapping the currently pathetic 'days text' and replacing it with a much better, comprehensive version that encourages the JW to read, say, a whole chapter of the bible every day augmented by a much fuller scriptural discussion instead.

    That is, by the way, another prediction of mine: a complete overhaul of the 'days text'.

    Yes, this has obviously been mentioned numerous times in the past, but I am speaking of it specifically in the context of the relatively recent developments of decreasing publisher stats in the western world, decreasing meeting attendance, increasing elder burn-out, and has become very apparent through the recent changes to the Awake and future change to the Watchtower, the cashflow/costs problems the Society is increasingly experiencing.

    As Gill has enumerated, the Society HAS made many changes before, although nothing particularly 'revolutionary' as you say. But shifting the bookstudy to a Saturday morning is hardly 'revolutionary'. It would be mere arrangement rejigging that has obvious flow-on benefits.

  • yaddayadda

    Please read my posts again. I'm predicting a foreseeable SHIFT in the day/time for the bookstudy, not an elimination of it.

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