Watchtower — Rise of the Service Department

by Marvin Shilmer 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer

    Watchtower — Rise of the Service Department

    Today I added a new article to my blog addressing the point at which Watchtower’s Service Department started to become the organization’s muscle. Pastoral work was dumped in favor of, you guessed it, a business model.

    My article is titled Watchtower — Rise of the Service Department and is available at:

    Marvin Shilmer

  • donuthole

    What amuses me about the Rutherford era literautre is how blantently they describe the preaching work as a literature selling activity.

  • cptkirk

    that would be some funny ass nooolite. make all the publishers pay retail for the literature. it would definitely cut down on waste. no more walking into a hospital waiting room and seeing 30 watchtowers piled up on an end table. yay i'm done for the month! i'm a pioneer look at my skillz!

  • Slidin Fast
    Slidin Fast

    Great find Marv. Close sales, avoid arguments. Very spiritual. Ten men lassoed by the skirt of a jew.

  • Diest

    Brothers.....we need to Always Be Closing. If you are not a closer, there is no place for you in Jehovahs Borganization.

  • sizemik

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. (Seneca the Younger)

  • blondie

    I thought that "pilgrims" were the forerunners of the circuit (servants) overseers?

  • minimus

    As one oldtimer used to say until his death, "IT'S ALL ABOUT SELLING THE BOOKS! WE"VE GOT TO SELL THE BOOKS!".....He was a Rutherfordite and still thought that JWs were into book selling until his death in the 90s.

  • wannabefree

    I have been in sales (secularly) most of my working life, early on I recognized the connection between "the preaching work" and sales ... while it did give me brief moments of disonance, it never fully clicked, and others didn't like it when I used the comparison. I would wonder, if the Holy Spirit is directing the work, and Jehovah draws people to his organization, why are sales techniques necessary?

    Thanks for the scan, it makes it clear that even the Organization recognized it for what it is, sales, while they may have distanced themselves from using the term, they continue to have sales training disguised as religious meetings.

    It's all about the law of numbers ... FOTS ... the more Feet On The Street, the better your chances of making a sale. Out of the hundreds of millions of hours in the minstry, you are bound to hit a door where somebody was praying for guidance ... it happens to the Mormons too.

  • blondie

    Such a typical tactic of Rutherford, remove people from their positions and rename the positions and replace them with his people.

    *** km 12/80 p. 3 par. 7 Meeting the Challenge of Inflation ***Then in 1897 the "pilgrim" work began. Those traveling representatives visited the ever-growing number of congregations on a regular basis in order to build up and strengthen their brothers spiritually. Today the same work is accomplished by the nearly three thousand circuit and district overseers (servants before 1970), supported, in part, by the Society.

    *** jv chap. 15 p. 223 Development of the Organization Structure ***In 1926, Brother Rutherford began to implement arrangements that changed the work of the pilgrims from that of simply traveling speakers into that of traveling supervisors and promoters of field service by the congregations. To emphasize their new responsibilities, in 1928 they were called regional service directors.

    *** w70 11/15 p. 700 Walking in the Way of Jehovah’s Reminders ***That following March 1944 I attended the Third Class of Gilead, and since then my life has been one grand experience after another. My first assignment after graduation was not exactly a foreign one, but it excited me as much as though it were. I was assigned to visit and assist congregations in California and Nevada as a "servant to the brethren" (now known as circuit servant).


    *** w71 11/15 p. 700 A "Body of Elders" with Rotating Chairmanship ***Then what about circuit and district servants? Will there be any rotation concerning them? Yes, these the Society expects to rotate to new assignments every two years. Sometimes circuit servants may even be made district servants for a period of two years and then, after being district servants, they may be made circuit servants, depending on what is felt to be best in the interest of the work generally throughout the country.

    These brothers, of course, qualify as elders; that is why they are in these positions. When visiting congregations they will cooperate with the "body of elders" of each congregation to the full and join in their field activities and in building up the entire congregation spiritually. But after servants are appointed during the year or rotate the following year, there will be no need for the circuit servant to recommend any changes, unless the circuit servant along with the whole "body of elders" sees that there is an emergency calling for a change.

    Does a circuit servant when he visits a congregation have more authority than the elders of the congregation and can he change things in the congregation, such as times of meetings, the arrangement of the hall, or change brothers in the various positions of oversight? No! A circuit servant does not have that authority. A circuit servant is simply an elder appointed by the Society to visit congregations to build them up spiritually and take the lead in the field service. His being a circuit servant does not mean that he is better qualified than are the local elders. Often the Society uses congregation servants to be circuit servants on weekends to serve other congregations in the vicinity. These congregation servants or other servants are used because they are qualified to give spiritual advice and counsel. The circuit servant or district servant should never think himself superior to the "body of elders" in the congregation. He should consider himself as an elder sent to the congregation by the Society to give what help and assistance he can offer and to encourage the whole congregation to press on in their grand work. The "body of elders" in the congregation should look forward twice a year to the visit of the circuit servant, who is also an elder, knowing that he will bring some good spiritual counsel from the Word of God and that he himself will set a good lead in the field service.

    (Starting in 1972, without fanfare, the WTS started using the term "overseer" rather than "servant" in regard to "district/circuit servant" "congregation servant" when referring to elder positions, but without any discussion or fanfare in writing anyway.)

    *** w72 8/1 p. 459 par. 15 Loving Oversight of the Congregation of God ***Notice, please, what one traveling circuit overseer of Jehovah’s witnesses had to say about a faithful presiding overseer in his circuit:

    *** jv chap. 15 p. 223 Development of the Organization Structure ***From 1894 to 1927, traveling speakers sent out by the Society were known first as Tower Tract Society representatives, then as pilgrims. From 1928 to 1936, with increased emphasis on field service, they were called regional servicedirectors. Starting with July 1936, to emphasize their proper relationship to the local brothers, they became known as regional servants. From 1938 to 1941, zone servants were assigned to work with a limited number of congregations on a rotation basis, thus getting back to the same groups at regular intervals. After an interruption of about a year, this service was revived in 1942 with servants to the brethren. In 1948 the term circuit servant was adopted; now, circuit overseer. (1972)

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