Excellent summary. I think I could practically print it out as is and show it to just about anyone in my cong and they would be hard pressed to disagree with any of your observations.
Why So Many Young People Are Leaving The Watchtower
Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Obviously, my observations about the high turnover among those born and raised in the organization don’t apply to every individual congregation. This will vary in different areas. I attended congregations in California, and the JW culture in the suburbs of Los Angeles were strikingly different from those in the inner city L.A. And that JW culture was radically different from the ones that exist up in the rural areas. The devotion and activity of these youths also varied from area to area. The area in which I grew up saw a huge turn-over.
This difference that you see from region to region applies to mainline Christian churches as well. I live not too far from Rick Warren’s mega church, and I can tell you that the growth he has experienced is very impressive. I was amazed when learning about how much he has invested in youth programs and support groups. I live in an area with a very robust Evangelical presence where growth is steady. Obviously, this does not apply to the whole country. But, on the whole, the point is that there is a stark contrast between what the Watchtower is offering versus mainstream Christianity. When a prospective recruit is looking into the Watchtower organization online and then comparing it against a mega-church like Rick Warren’s, it’s like comparing a Five-Star restaurant with a Stouffer’s TV dinner.
The WT org has pretty much boxed themselves into a corner - their endtime apocalyptic dogma has run out of legs and the new overlapping generations teaching won't keep the kids in the KH, either.
Look what has happened at the Christian Science church-- declining numbers and mainly elderly members are left. Our local CSC has asked the city to exempt them from their $22/mo garbage bill, as they don't generate any solid waste- they declined to reveal how many active members their church has- and it is a lovely brick structure.
I agree with what has been written above.
I attended a Mega Church when I left the WTS. It was growing so fast, that churches of other denominations went there to see "what the h*ll was going on!" It was over 12,000 members, 2 separate services, and they were opening two sister churches about 25 miles from the main church, in split directions, when I moved away from the area.
It was cutting edge. It was electric.
One day, the pastor of Mega Church talked about the explosive growth and his business model. It was an eye opener. It was everything opposite of what the JWs do.
First, he said that he wanted his church to be modern and welcoming. Not stuffy or judgemental. He wanted it to be a place where everyone was proud and excited to come to. A place they would not be embarrassed to invite their friends too. A place where they could grow in their own understanding of life.
The church had a rocking band. It was not unheard of to hear rock songs as you walked in. The rock song would be on point. So, when they did a sermon about not living beyond one's means (either money, time, activities), they played the song, "Take it to the Limit." When the sermon was on cheating on spouses, the song was "You can't always get what you want." When they did a sermon on volunteering, the song was "Put me in coach." Last Christmas, the band played on IPads. I saw it on CNN.
The church had a group of actors/actresses. They did really good skits. One whole series of skits/sermons, started with a knock off skit of the Matrix. The racism sermon skit was also good. The skit started with a pew, and people coming into sit in the pews. Each person sat down and was judged by the others and judged the others. It was all pre-recorded, so you were hearing what they were thinking. It was funny...with the sole black man saying, "Gee I'm in North Pole (real name was North Pointe) church with all the white folks." Then, the sermon would start.
The sermons had to be relevant to today's world. Using examples from today's world. Making people better people in today's world. Series on marraige, broken homes, divorced parenting, business, cheating, being too busy/too lazy, worry, racism, etc. The pastor would focus on a scripture or two, and go in depth as to what it was saying in Bible times and what it meant today.
There was no judgement. No one was bad or evil outside the church, and no one was great because they were in church.
One day, the church GAVE AWAY money to everyone who came. The sermon was on charity. The deal was that you had to GIVE AWAY your money to the community/charity that needed it. Then, report back where you gave the money. Everyone got a box. Some had $5 and others had $100 bills.
The church finance meetings were open to the public.
There were many adults who volunteered. Women as parking attendants. Women as day care helpers. He encouraged everyone to volunteer at some job within the church, and to change that job every six months or a year. He thought that if people have a job in the church, they were more likely to be part of the church.
Oh parents could put their kids in the many day care rooms (and were given a beeper) to enjoy the sermon. Teens went to their own camps too. Adults were usually in the auditorium, and the kids were out having fun learning what was age appropriate for them. It was not at all like the WTS meetings.
There was no dress code. I never saw the pastor in a suit. I saw women in pants, jeans, bermuda shorts, etc.
You could be an anonymous partaker of a 12,000+ seated church, or join a small, local group of your own (i.e. single, married with children, grandparents, etc.).
The church hosted a multi-denominational service on Tuesdays, just for SINGLE people. I hear the women were super hot. It was a mixer, with the intent on matching people together. People from many, many local churches came to the mixer.
The band rocked on at the end of the show. And, you left happy. You left inspired. You left wanting to tell others about a new insight on life.
And, so, his church grew and grew. He has it all on the Internet, to watch. http://www.northpoint.org/messages That way, you know what you're getting into before you come.
I guess I miss it. I'll watch a sermon tomorrow night. How about that!
How about that, skeeter. Makes me want to reconsider returning that an old megachurch I use to attend. They did some renovations lately and posted some things on their facebook wall. It looked very awesome, some people of the church I attend now liked the page. A friend of ours also started attending another megachurch in the area, she loves it and has invited us to attend.
My wife won't be attending, of course. She does not believe a church should be like 'parks and recreation.' Anyway, she's been judgemental about literally every church I have ever attended.
Excellent post JeremyC. Thank you!
I was just reminded of a time when my dad and I arrived early to one of the District Assemblies. As we walked toward the stadium we saw a little boy of about 8 years old running, literally running as fast as he could away from the stadium. As he ran we both heard him shout, "I HATE THIS PLACE!!" At the time we both found it funny, but thinking about it now... To make a child that young sit in one spot for 6 hours and listen to dry sermons on topics he neither understands nor cares about, and then reprimand him when he gets restless....well kinda borders on abuse doesn't it?
Not only is there nothing offered to children, anything offered from somewhere else (school, neighbors, sports) is strictly forbidden. It gets worse when you get into your teens.. there is no way to 'sow your wild oats', there is no way to develop your sexuality in a normal and healthy way, there is no way to challenge authority and to learn from making mistakes. Being a JW teen is like being a drunk elephant balancing on a tightrope in a porcelain store.. you're bound to fail.
Jesus used parables that the people in his time understood...the people he spoke with would understand.
The Watch Tower looks, speaks, and acts like something out of the early 1900s, at most to 1950 (women wear dresses, hose, skirts). I'm surprised the WTS doesn't make women wear hats and gloves! Their literature is the same as it ever was. Same outlines. Fear, intimidation, holy paradise promise, berating bad behavior, loving Jehovah....all kabobing various bible scriptures to make a twisted point. One could look at a Watchtower on blood, education, etc. in the 1960s and see the same general outline as today (of course, all fractions would now be allowed,etc. etc).
The Watch Tower does not include young people in the duties (unless it's a man with a microphone), and generally berates the things that young people want to do to improve their lives (date, schooling, etc). Add to all that the Internet pointing out the WTS faults, fallacies, and failed predictions...and young people will move on.
Is it parks and recreation if you can clearly remember a skit, a song, a scripture....and it made a true, good difference in how you think of things? For the life of me, I can't remember a skit from an assembly or a song. I do remember some sister whining about how "terrible" college was, she quit, and became a full time pioneer. That's not a happy memory that I wanted to apply to my life.
This thread should be in the Top Ten.