Jehovah's Witness Sunday Meetings
What are they like? What can visitors expect who just pop in?
Do they offer communion? Pass the plate? How long do the meetings last? Who gives the talks? How are visitors treated?
Just curious. My grandfather used to walk across the street to the Kingdom Hall and listen to them on Wednesday evenings. He didn't agree with many things he heard, but he liked to hear religious discussions and talks.
It is more like school than a religious meeting in my opinion . No communion , no passing of a contribution plate ,no greet your neighbor ,awful congregation singing with no choir . Strangers are warmly greeted usually with many offers of Free home Bible Study .
The study session following the public talk is a Q&A, with the approved answers appearing in the Watchtower article above the list of questions. Proper preparation for the meeting includes underlining or highlighting all the answers for the questions of the week. Independent thinking and creative, thoughful answers are out of place, just repeat what the article says. It's a lot like playing "Where's Waldo?" with words instead of pictures.
On Sunday there are two meetings (Public Talk 30 minutes, Watchtower Study 45 minutes), the first is opened up with a song and prayer followed by the 'public talk' that an approved 'Brother' drafts (or simply reads verbatim) from an outline provided by the Org which can be compared to a sermon. All just sit and listen. The second meeting is called the 'Watchtower Study' it too is started off with a song followed by a paragraph by paragraph (unless they are combined) reading from the selected WT article from the Watchtower-Study edition (not the 'public Watchtower' that is distributed in field service), after each paragraph(s) a question(s) is purposed from the bottom of the page and the audience is called upon for comment. Usually the commentary is just a reiteration of the paragraph stated with openers like "I really appreciated' or 'As the paragraph highlights'.... when the paragraphs include the commandment to 'read scripture' all flip their bibles to the passage, the WT Conductor may ask for 'deeper' comments to include other non-read scriptures found in the paragraph(s) too.
Communion is only for the 'anointed' and only done once a year on the evening of Nisan 14 (March 30 this year). The 'anointed' are allegedly those who claim to be of a literal 144,000 class of Xians who are joint-heirs with Christ and will rule with him in the 'new system' (millennial reign). Until 2007 this number was supposed to be sealed in 1935 but apparenly the Govening Body of the WTS has decided to open up its membership again as remaining GB who qualify under the sealing die off and are replaced with younger men.
Not passing a plate is a hallmark of the religion dating back to the 1870s (though there is a donation box at the back of the Kingdom Hall)........not that there isn't occasional commentary as to how members can donate, discussed during the mid-week service meeting. During the circuit or district events such as the circuit assembly, special day assembly and district convention there is always strong and repetitive comments on where the donation stations are located and ending with a summary of monies collected and facility costs.... these events are the WTS's money makers.
Visitors can expect to be 'love-bombed'... Mark Waldman who co-authored the book "Why We Believe What We Believe" in an interview with Tavis Smiley said he loved visiting churches ......and his all time favorite due to the love-bombing was the JW Kingdom Hall. Ours is a religion sustained not on retention but on conversion so love-bombing is an automatic response for many. However if the visitor pops in and expects to fully participate but goes beyond the comfort of the local BOE.....his microphone will be cut off, if he continues to be a 'distubrance' he will be asked to leave.......that said most visitors don't participate, they only observe.
Hope that was helpful......
As far as how they treat strangers, usually very well. It's part of the "love bombing"...they don't tell you that a few years later you may be ignored entirely for weeks on end, because they're either focused on the next new person, or busy with their particular clique.
yknot described how the meeting goes pretty well, though.
The Public Talk is sort of like a sermon - it's probably the closest thing offered at the KH to a "normal" or mainline church. Except the words "church", "sermon" and other liturgical terms make JWs cringe. The WT Study is utterly alien to any normal churchgoing experience. It's a little like school, I guess, except that it feels a lot more like indoctrination. Forget about communion. The Memorial is an absolute Christ-denying farce, a commercial for the next Public Talk. And yes, you will get lots of love... at first.
Don't mean to editorialize. It's just that being in this organization for so long made me realize with absolute lucidity how far they were keeping me from Christ. I ultimately rejected Him when I felt Him calling me out of the WT out of fear of losing my wife and kids. I ended up losing them anyway. Please don't make the same mistake. If you want a personal relationship with your Lord and Saviour, then just go ahead and have one. Church and fellowship are merely tools to enhance that relationship. Find a gathering of people who you really make you feel like you're in the presence of the Lord, if you're able to. If you seriously find that in the JW religion, well, then, don't let anyone stop you. But please educate yourself and realize what you're in for. Their "Dedication to Jehovah" is as much dedication to the organization as anything, much more so than to Christ in my opinion.
It is a complete waste of time. The "public talk" is boring, and more so since they reduced it to 30 minutes and eliminated whatever little interesting parts there once were. And, the washtowel study is reading the paragraphs twice (once by the reader, once more in the comments).
You're better off in regular church--or just not going at all.