You are a City Manager in a major metropolitan city with a population of 3,000,000.
One day when you come into work at 9:00 AM you are horrified to receive an anonymous message that a group of terrorists have put a poison into the City’s water supply located 10 miles from the City limits.
This chemical is extremely dangerous and will result in a painful death for any one that drinks the water. However rather than panic, you take some time and order your water treatment lab to test and confirm or deny that the system has been compromised. The tests come back positive. The tests show that you have somewhere between 6 and 20 hours before the poison reaches the City.
Immediately you realize that you have to warn the entire population of your City before it is too late and there are massive losses.
How do you inform the public? At your disposal are the entire City Staff numbering 3,000 which gives you a ratio of 1:1,000 people in the city. You also have the following ways of reaching people.
- Postal Service
- Door to Door
- PA systems on the Police Cars
Question: In view of the seriousness of the situation and the amount of time remaining, which methods of informing people will you use?
Your message is simple and to the point, “The water system has been compromised, to avoid death, please do not drink the water.”
A competent City Manager would assess the situation, and immediately mobilize his people. He would use all available methods of communication focusing on the ones that would be most effective with the goal of reaching as many as possible. He does this for the following reasons:
- He has a moral obligation to warn people to protect them from certain death
- He has knowledge that there is limited time to warn them
What would you think of a City Manager who had this knowledge of an imminent disaster and instead of focusing his efforts on broadcasting the warning through the television, internet, telephone etc. he instructs his 3,000 employees to each go to 1,000 doors to warn people? Even though he knows that most people are not at their houses but are instead at work, or shopping, or school? If each employee was able to knock on a door every 7 minutes, it will take him 116 hours to complete this door to door assignment once.
As Witnesses we are taught that we have life saving information and that the end is going to come at anytime. Adjectives that are used frequently when describing the nearness of the worldwide disaster are “imminent”, “shortly”, “soon”. The only hope that people have for salvation is through heeding the warnings that are given. We have divine knowledge that must reach the ears of everyone on earth.
If the Governing Body was truly convinced themselves of the impending disaster and the fact that the end is “imminent” would they not focus their efforts in spreading the message through effective means such as telephone, television, internet, social networks etc? Instead direction is given that the primary method of spreading the warning message is through calling at empty houses repeatedly.
The Apostles and Christians in the first century used the most effective methods possible to preach, including speaking in the synagogues, in the marketplaces, and in people’s homes. They also wrote letters and forwarded the letters on to others. That was the extent of technology at that time, and they used it effectively. However technology has dramatically changed in the last 100 years let alone the last 2000 years. Why is it that as Witnesses we are instructed not to use the Internet, or email, or social networks or the television to preach the warning? Telephone or letter witnessing is allowed but only as a small part of our ministry.
It is conservative to estimate that around 50% of the ones baptized are children who have been raised in the truth and do not require preaching to from door to door. It now takes almost 11,000 man hours of the house to house ministry to get an interested person to baptism. If “Joe” publisher went house to house on average 10 hrs a month, it will take him 91 years to get a student to the point of being baptized. Statistically it is impossible since we live to 70- or 80 years old.
This highlights how ineffective door to door is as a means of warning people about an impending disaster. Despite these odds why do we continue to maintain that the house to house ministry is the most effective method? The data does not support the claim.
Each Witness records his or her time and obediently submits it to the Branch every month. It is clear that the effort is what is valued, and not the results. An analogy that might be made is by imagining that you work at a gravel plant. Your job is to make gravel and the way that you do it and have always done it is by smashing rocks with a hammer. Even though machines have been invented to efficiently crush gravel by the ton at a high production rate, your boss tells you, “Ignore that machine”, “Keep using that hammer, it is the best way to make gravel.” Each time you go in service and call at an empty house, remeber you are crushing rocks with a hammer.
My conclusion with these things in mind is I don’t feel that the Governing Body themselves are convinced that the end is imminent and that we as Witnesses carry a life saving message. If they were convinced that time is reduced and that people’s lives are on the line they would give direction that other methods be used to actually reach people with the warning.
My best wishes to you and your's this New Year!