Comments You Will Not Hear at the 12-26-10 WT Study (OCTOBER 15, 2010, pages 20-25)(MEETINGS UPBUILDING)
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If the meetings are not upbuilding it is the audience’s fault? If the food tastes like crap at a restaurant, is it the customer’s fault?
START OF ARTICLE
DO YOU SHARE
IN MAKING CHRISTIAN
“When you come together, . . . let all things
take place for upbuilding.” —1 COR. 14:26.
1. According to 1 Corinthians chapter 14, what is an
important objective of Christian meetings?
‘THAT was such an upbuilding meeting!’
Have you expressed similar sentiments
after attending a meeting at the Kingdom
Hall? No doubt you have! Congregation
meetings truly are a source of encouragement,
but that is not surprising. After
all, just as in the days of the early Christians,
an important objective of our meetings
today is to strengthen spiritually all
in attendance. Note how the apostle Paul
emphasizes that specific goal of Christian
meetings in his first letter to the Corinthians.
Throughout chapter 14, he states time
and again that each part delivered at congregation
meetings should have the same objective—“
the upbuilding of the congregation.”--
Read 1 Corinthians 14:3,12, 26.*
*It was foretold that some features of first-century
Christian meetings would cease. For example, we
no longer “speak in tongues” or “prophesy.” (1 Cor.
13:8; 14:5) Even so, Paul’s instructions give us insight
into how Christian meetings should be conducted
Yes, I would hear people say what “an upbuilding meeting” and then when I asked them what point specifically was upbuilding, they would quiet down. That is right up there when an elder or jw would say, “that was a good comment,” and I would ask which one and what did they like specifically…silence….
How strengthening is it when few if any talk to you before or after the meeting?
Footnote…to make sure jws realize no one prophesies or gives a revelation in a KH, or speaks in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:3,12,26 (NIV)
3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
2. (a) Upbuilding meetings are the result of what?
(b)What question will we consider?
2 We realize that upbuilding, or edifying,
meetings are first of all the result of the influence
of God’s spirit. Therefore, we begin
each congregation meeting with a heartfelt
prayer to Jehovah in which our heavenly Father
is asked to bless our gathering by means
of his holy spirit. Still, we know that all
members of the congregation can have a
share in making the meeting programs as
upbuilding as possible. So, then, what are
some of the steps we can personally take to
make sure that the weekly meetings conducted
at our Kingdom Hall are always a
source of spiritual refreshment and encouragement?
Heartfelt prayer….given by a brother who finds out 2 minutes before he is giving the prayer, has no idea what the theme is for the meetings. So he ends up using the 8 to 10 standard phrases heard in every KH.
If a meeting is not upbuilding though, the rank and file are held responsible, not a boring and/or unprepared speaker.
3. How important are Christian meetings?
3 To answer, we will examine some aspects
of our meetings that should be kept in mind
by those who conduct them. We will also
consider how the congregation as a whole
can share in making meetings uplifting occasions
for all who attend. This subject is of
great interest to us because our meetings are
sacred gatherings. Indeed, attending and
participating in meetings are important features
of our worship to Jehovah.—Ps. 26:12;
111:1; Isa. 66:22, 23.
I remember the elders saying that not enough people were participating….my husband pointed out if all the elders (6), their wives (6), their children (4), the MS (3), their wives (3), and the regular pioneers (3) all commented just once, there would be no problem (25 in total). How many WT articles have 25 paragraphs?
A Meeting Designed for
Studying the Bible
4, 5. What is the objective of the Watchtower
4 All of us want to benefit fully from our
weekly Watchtower Study. Hence, to understand
clearly the principal objective of that
meeting, let us review some of the adjustments
that have been made to the Watchtower magazine
and the study articles.
It is amazing that except for a few new people, that jws don’t know what the principal objective is. “ADJUSTMENTS” I remember when the questions were asked first at the WT Study and the paragraphs read after to sum up. The WTS realized that few jws prepared before the meeting and were reading the paragraph while the question was being asked…cut down on participation. So around 1970, they flipped it, read paragraph first, ask question second.
*** w77 2/1 p. 96 New Method of Conducting “Watchtower” Study *** With this in mind, we recommend to all congregations the following order of study: (1) Read the paragraph in The Watchtower (or other publication); (2) Read the question thereon; (3) Call on those raising their hands for answers, discussing fully the paragraph and supporting scriptures. There should be a number of advantages in reading the paragraphs before they are discussed. This will quickly refresh the minds of all who have studied over the lesson in advance, and in the event some have not been able to do this previous to the meeting, the reading will at least familiarize them with the material before it is discussed. Everyone will be encouraged to concentrate on the reading, rather than look ahead for the answer in the next paragraph. Those who are shy, or who are slow in organizing their thoughts, will be able to prepare better to put their words together and so gain confidence to raise their hands. There should be freer participation and fuller discussion of the finer details of the study, with emphasis on the application of key scriptures before passing on to the reading of the next paragraph.
5 Starting with the first study edition of
The Watchtower, the January 15, 2008, issue,
a significant detail was included on the front
cover. Did you notice it? Take a good look at
the cover of the magazine you are holding.
There, at the base of the tower, you will note
an open Bible. That added feature underscores
the reason why we have the Watchtower
Study. It is to study the Bible with the
help of this magazine. Yes, at our weekly
Watchtower Study, God’s Word is “being expounded,”
and just as in the time of Nehemiah
of old, there is “a putting of meaning
into it.”—Neh. 8:8; Isa. 54:13.
So why does the WTS feel the need to underscore that the Bible is primary hasn’t it been since 1879? Yet the WTS teaches that the Bible cannot be understood without WT publications.
Notice too that the WTS now has to “order” the conductor and the audience to read certain scriptures right there in the meeting. How many of the rank and file or even the elders have looked up the cited scriptures before the meeting, very few?
***w94 10/1 p. 8 Even as Bible prophecy pointed forward to the Messiah, it also directs us to the close-knit body of anointed Christian Witnesses that now serve as the faithful and discreet slave. It helps us to understand the Word of God. All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the “greatly diversified wisdom of God” can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.—John 6:68.
6. (a) What adjustment was made to the Watchtower
Study? (b) What should be kept in mind regarding
6 Because the Bible is our main textbook,
an adjustment was made to the Watchtower
Study. Several cited scriptures in the study
articles are marked “read.” All of us are encouraged
to follow the reading of these
scriptures during the meeting, using our
own copy of the Bible. (Acts 17:11) Why?
When we see God’s counsel in our own Bible,
it makes a deeper impression on us.
(Heb. 4:12) Therefore, before such scriptures
are read out loud, the one conducting the
meeting should give all in attendance sufficient
time to look up these scriptures and
to follow along as the verses are read.
Is the Bible the main textbook? “Encouraged” or forced to do so as the whole audience is encouraged and “given enough time to look these up.” How much time would that be?
I can remember being told about a WT conductor asking, “Now what is the basis of our beliefs,” as he held up the WT. I thought the PO would bust a gut putting up his hand and grabbing the mike to spit out, “the Bible.”
More Time Available to
Express Our Faith
7. What opportunity do we have during the Watchtower
7 Still another adjustment to the Watchtower
study articles has to do with their
length. In recent years, they are shorter.
Thus, during the Watchtower Study, less time
is used for reading paragraphs while more
time is available for giving comments. More
in the congregation now have an opportunity
to make a public expression of their faith
by answering a printed question, by giving
an application of a scripture, by relating
a brief experience that illustrates the wisdom
of following Bible principles, or in
other ways. Some time should also be spent
discussing the artwork.—Read Psalm 22:22;
35:18; 40: 9.
Adjustment—shorter articles—I can remember some articles being 36 paragraphs and the WTS would stop mid article at paragraph 22, to continue on and into the 2 nd article the next week.
More….make a public expression—actually ends up being more dead air, or the conductor ends up talking too much, or Sister Prissy comments for the 5 th time.
Can you make an application of a scripture if it is not already in the paragraph?
Can a jw really tell a personal experience as it is material outside the article?
Discussing the artwork—some child saying “Jesus”
8, 9. What is the role of the Watchtower Study conductor?
congregation so that the meeting will be upbuilding
8 However, that additional time for giving
a variety of comments will be available
only if participants comment briefly and the
one conducting the meeting refrains from
commenting too often himself during the
Watchtower Study. So, then, what may help a
conductor to find the proper balance between
his comments and those given by the
Do you get the message that people are not commenting at the meetings?
9 To answer, consider an illustration. A
Watchtower Study that is well-conducted is
like a bouquet of flowers that delights the
eye. Just as a large bouquet is made up
of many individual flowers, so a Watchtower
Study is made up of many different
comments. And just as the individual
flowers in a bouquet differ in size
and color, so the comments given during
the meeting vary in length and manner
of presentation. And where does the
conductor fit in? His occasional
comments are like
the few pieces of greenery
that are carefully added
to a bouquet. These pieces
do not dominate; rather,
they serve to provide structure
and to unify the whole.
Similarly, the one who conducts
needs to keep in mind
that his role is, not to overwhelm,
but to complement
the expressions of praise
that are offered by the congregation.
Yes, when the
many diverse comments
given by the congregation
and the few well-placed remarks
made by the conductor
are skillfully put
together, they form a beautiful
bouquet of words that
will delight all in attendance.
The only way they will get the comments they want are if
1) The rank and file actually read the magazines before the meeting
2) The rank and file actually look up the scriptures and see why they were chosen
3) The rank and file actually raise their hands
Ten Ways to Make Meetings Upbuilding for Yourself
Prepare in advance. When you study in
advance the material that will be discussed at
the Kingdom Hall, the meetings will capture
your interest more fully and leave a deeper
Attend regularly. Since a good attendance
Is more encouraging to everyone present, your
presence makes a difference.
Arrive on time. If you are seated before the
program starts, you can join in the opening
song and prayer, which form part of our worship
Come well-equipped.Bring your Bible and
the publication(s) used during the meeting so
that you can follow along and better grasp
what is being discussed.
Avoid distractions. For example, read
electronic text messages after, not during,
the meetings. In that way, you keep personal
affairs in their proper place.
Participate. When more give comments,
more are encouraged and built up by the
diverse expressions of faith.
Keep your comments brief. This gives as
many as possible an opportunity to share in
Fulfill assignments. As students in the Theocratic
Ministry School or as participants in
the Service Meeting, prepare well, rehearse in
advance, and try hard not to cancel your
Commend participants. Tell those who have
a part at the meeting or who give comments
how much their efforts are appreciated.
Associate. Kind greetings and upbuilding
conversations before and after meetings add
much to the pleasure and benefits that come
from being present.
“Let Us Always Offer
to God a Sacrifice
10. How did early Christians view congregation
10 Paul’s description of Christian meetings found
at 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 gives us insight into how
those gatherings were conducted in the first century.
In commenting on these verses, one Bible scholar
writes: “The really notable thing about an
early Church service must have been that almost
everyone came feeling that he had
both the privilege and the obligation of contributing
something to it. A man did not
come with the sole intention of being a passive
listener; he came not only to receive but
to give.” Indeed, early Christians viewed
congregation meetings as opportunities to
express their faith.—Rom.10:10.
Who is the Bible scholar? William Barclay…why leave out his name and where this came from and when?
11. (a) What contributes greatly to upbuilding
meetings, and why? (b) Applying what suggestions
may improve our comments at meetings? (See footnote.)
11 Expressing our faith at meetings greatly
contributes to “the upbuilding of the congregation.”
Surely you will agree that no
matter how many years we may have been
attending meetings, it remains a true pleasure
to listen to the comments made by our
brothers and sisters. We are touched by a
heartfelt answer expressed by an elderly,
faithful fellow believer; we feel uplifted by
an insightful observation made by a caring
elder; and we cannot help but smile when a
child blurts out a spontaneous comment
that expresses genuine love for Jehovah.
Clearly, by giving comments, all of us share
in making Christian meetings upbuilding.*
*For suggestions on how to improve our comments
at the meetings, see The Watchtower, September 1, 2003,
Do you enjoy listening to brothers and sisters read their comments from the paragraph or say “the paragraph says” or “the Watchtower says” rather than “the Bible says”?
Do children comment spontaneously or are they coached to give an answer to use words they just were told to say, words they have no idea what they mean?
Where is the love expressed for Jesus?
12. (a) What can be learned from the examples of
Moses and Jeremiah? (b) What role does prayer play
in giving comments?
12 For those who are timid, though, giving
comments can be a real challenge. If that is
the case with you, it may be helpful to remember
that your situation is not unusual.
In fact, even such faithful servants of God as
Moses and Jeremiah expressed a lack of confidence
in their ability to speak in public.
(Ex. 4:10; Jer.1:6) Yet, just as Jehovah helped
those servants of old to praise him publicly,
God will help you to offer sacrifices of praise.
(Read Hebrews 13:15.) How can you receive
Jehovah’s help in overcoming your fear of
giving comments? First, prepare well for the
meeting. Then, before you go to the Kingdom
Hall, approach Jehovah in prayer and
specifically petition him to give you the
courage to give a comment. (Phil. 4:6) You
are requesting something that is “according
to his will,” so you can be confident that Jehovah will
answer your prayer.—1 John 5:14;
Moses and Jeremiah—OT examples
Prepare well by reading the scriptures or human words?
Pray to God (where is Jesus in this process?)
Meetings That Aim to ‘Upbuild,
Encourage, and Console’
13. (a) What effect should our meetings have
upon those in attendance? (b) What question is of
special importance to elders?
13 Paul states that an important purpose of
congregation meetings is to ‘upbuild, encourage,
and console’ those in attendance.*
(1 Cor. 14:3) How can Christian elders today
make sure that their meeting parts indeed
lift the spirits of their brothers and sisters
and leave them consoled? To answer, let us
consider a meeting that Jesus conducted
shortly after his resurrection.
*As to the difference between “encourage” and “console,”
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words explains that the Greek word translated
“console” denotes “a greater degree of tenderness than
[encourage].”—Compare John 11:19.
Is it better to give comments or to talk and commend people before and after the meetings if the intent is to encourage?
Is the WTS saying that the elders should not browbeat the congregation to do more…what does the WTS do in this matter?
What is the Greek word…why not say what it is?
14. (a) What events preceded a meeting that was
arranged by Jesus? (b) Why must the apostles have
been relieved when “Jesus approached and spoke to
14 First, note the events that preceded that
meeting. Just before Jesus was put to death,
the apostles “abandoned him and fled,” and
as foretold, they were “scattered each one to
his own house.” (Mark 14:50; John 16:32)
Then, after his resurrection, Jesus invited his
downhearted apostles to attend a special
meeting.* In response, “the eleven disciples
went into Galilee to the mountain where Jesus
had arranged for them.” When they
arrived, “Jesus approached and spoke to
them.” (Matt. 28:10, 16, 18) Imagine how relieved
the apostles must have been when Jesus
took that initiative! What did Jesus discuss?
*This may have been the occasion to which Paul later
referred when he said that Jesus “appeared to upward
of five hundred.”—1 Cor. 15:6.
Notice that Jesus did not invite any women. Had they run away?
15. (a) What subjects did Jesus consider, but what
did he not discuss? (b) How did that meeting affect
15 Jesus began by making an announcement:
“All authority has been given me.”
Then he gave them an assignment: “Go
therefore and make disciples.” Finally, he
gave them warm assurance: “I am with you
all the days.” (Matt. 28:18-20) But did you
note what Jesus did not do? He did not reprimand
his apostles; nor did he use that meeting
to question their motives or to deepen
their feelings of guilt by referring to their
momentary weakness of faith. Instead, Jesus
reassured them of his and his Father’s love
by entrusting them with a weighty assignment.
How did Jesus’ approach affect the
apostles? They were so upbuilt, encouraged,
and consoled that some time after that
meeting, they were once again “teaching
and declaring the good news.”—Acts 5:42.
All authority had been given him…he was king then, right?
He did not reprimand….question their motives…deepen their feelings of guilt…but what has our experience been….?
16. How do Christian elders today imitate Jesus’ example
in conducting meetings that are a source of
16 In imitation of Jesus, elders today view
meetings as opportunities to reassure fellow
believers of the unfailing love that Jehovah
has for his people. (Rom. 8:38, 39) Hence, in
their meeting parts, elders focus on their
brothers’ strengths, not on their weaknesses.
They do not question their brothers’ motives.
Rather, their expressions reveal that
they view their fellow believers as individuals
who love Jehovah and want to do what is
right. (1 Thess. 4:1, 9-12) Of course, the elders
may at times need to give corrective
counsel to the congregation in general, but
if just a few individuals need to be readjusted,
such counsel is usually best given in a
private conversation with those involved.
(Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:24-26) When addressing
the entire congregation, elders aim to give
commendation whenever it is fitting. (Isa.
32:2) They strive to speak in such a way that
at the end of the meeting, all in attendance
are refreshed and energized.—Matt. 11:28;
Can you think of any elders that talked to you except to point out where you had failed?
Can you think of strengths that the elders focused on? Or where the motives of all (sisters too) were questioned. Did you feel loved as individuals?
So is more “corrective” counsel or commendation? How many remember rather being taken to the “back room” for an adjustment?
A Safe Haven
17. (a) Why is it more important than ever that our
meetings are a safe haven? (b) What can you personally
do to make meetings upbuilding? (See the box
“Ten Ways to Make Meetings Upbuilding for Yourself
17 As Satan’s world becomes evermore oppressive,
we need to make sure that our
Christian gatherings are a safe haven—a
source of comfort for all. (1 Thess. 5:11) A sister
who together with her husband coped
with a severe trial some years ago recalls:
“Being at the Kingdom Hall was like being
held in Jehovah’s caring hands. During the
hours we were there, surrounded by our
Christian brothers and sisters, we felt that we
were able to place our burden on Jehovah,
and we experienced a measure of inner
calm.” (Ps. 55:22) May all who attend our
meetings feel similarly encouraged and consoled.
To make sure that this will be the case,
let us keep on doing our share in making
Christian meetings upbuilding.
Are the meetings a safe haven? Is it the outside world or the congregation that has become more oppressive?
Did you have a severe trial…did the congregation come to your aid?
How Would You Answer?
? How important are Christian meetings?
? Why do comments given at meetings
contribute to “the upbuilding of the
? What can be learned from a meeting
that Jesus conducted with his followers?
Have a happy new year…next year: YOUNG ONES—BE GUIDED BY GOD’S WORD.