The Book Study meeting was cancelled a while back. The Watch Tower said that it was to provide for a Family Study night and high gas costs. Hmmm.
I thought about the cancellation of the book study meeting after listening to another pastor discus his Mega-Church’s dependence on small circle groups. His Atlanta based church has over 40,000 people placed in small circle groups. Each group meets for 2 years. Each group is based on life’s stage, gender, marital status, etc. He offers children and teenage groups too. The reason he places a high importance on groups is that it allows people to get to know each other, to be there to help each other out when one stumbles, has life’s problems, etc. Circles allow people to grow, through building relationships and helping each other out. A normal church service is a preacher –to-parishiner (row) experience, but that does not complete the spiritual picutre of a person like the circle of a group. Rather, it takes person –to-person help when someone has a need. People are more likely to turn to their small circle, rather than someone with less of a relationship.
In contrast, the Watch Tower Society does not really like person-to-person help. Rather, things are reported to the elders, who meet in a committee of 2 (or 3), to “help” the person, investigate the matter, report it, give sanctions, etc. I could see a non-elder JDub getting in trouble for taking on “spiritual counseling” with an in-trouble JW. Further, women, especially, are not treated fairly by the elders, and getting rid of the book study arrangement will eventually cut down on a woman’s ability to find non-elder help. Now, if the WTS could get every person to take their own car out in transportation, and to clear out the KH quickly after a meeting.
This reminds me of the Watch Tower’s rules for Christian get-togethers. The host is to play Christian music and redirect talk back to “Kingdom” matters. Talk of outside matters, interests, and current events is not to be encouraged. In other words, it’s a way for the Watch Tower to be the director of human-to-human affairs. It’s a way to keep relationships cooled, by not allowing common ground to build bonds.
This reminds me of the Watch Tower’s rules to married people to not touch or hold hands at meetings. Again, not showing outright love between two JWs is preferred within the Kingdom Hall. Again, the Watch Tower wants to take center stage.
So, why is the Watch Tower afraid of JDubs having book studies? I know that in my book study meetings, I became the closest with those witnesses. I didn’t really know the other witnesses in the Hall that well. I would be more willing to talk with my book study friends, then with an elder, if I had a problem.
I don’t think the Watch Tower liked the Book Study arrangement. It interfered with their ability to “make points” directly from the written literature to the flock or by an elder to the person in trouble. It keeps the KH friendship temperature a little colder. Therefore, the JDubs have to cling closer to the Watch Tower. After all the meetings are arranged in rows, not circles. Circles of Christians are bad as the Watch Tower Society wants all the limelight.