Shepherding to Improve Publisher performance
Part of Shepherding in the JW world is to “take the Lead” in Field Service: Our Congregation was known as the “armpit” of the Circuit. We had a high DF/DA rate, low Pub Hour average, almost no Pioneers, few Aux. Pioneers, and a high ratio of ‘Inactive’ and ‘Irregular’ Publishers. So, we decided as a Body of Elders to implement a plan that not only cured the problem, but made us the Shinning Star in the Circuit ... and the CO was using our Congregation as a blueprint to help other weak congregations. Here is what we did:
Compiled a List and the Database: I placed all Pioneers, Pubs, Irregular, and Inactive JWs on a database. We then instituted a program to call on all Inactive and Irregular Pubs first, and invite them into Field Service. This produced some results.
Phone calls for time: After compiling time each month, I called all those who did not report to try and wedge at least an hour or more from them by phone ... made notes on time slips for them. This helped keep reporting up and reduced irregularity and inactivity.
Notify each BS Conductor: From the database I printed a sorted report for each BS Conductor for his Group. He could then see how his group performed, make calls on ‘weaker ones’ to keep them invited out in Service.
Invite Help from a nearby Congregation: We played the “Pride” card, and invited a nearby congregation to join us to work our extensive territory. We announced this at each Service meeting for two or three weeks in advance that on Saturday and Sunday of a specified weekend, So-and-So Congregation would join us to help do what we have not been able to do, get ALL of our territory covered.
The nearby Congregation decided to make a big showing ostensibly to prove their earnest desire to help (but subtly to shame us) and many weaker Pubs in our Congregation showed up so as to ostensibly show they were indeed ‘encouraged’ (but to prove we had some class left). This went on for two weekends a month for 3 months and one weekend a month for three subsequent months.
Aux. Pioneer Drives: We used each and every Service Meeting to pump up excitement for the Aux. Pio work, with all the Elders signing up. We would be sure to read off every name signed up, and invited more to join ... and we scheduled end-of-the-month parties for all who signed up and made their time, or close to it. This created an environment where socializing was opened up to more and more who were not always feeling part of the program.
Regular Pioneers: Our drive included constant invitations to transition from Aux. Pio to Reg. Pio. This actually began to work, and we eventually went from 4 Reg. Pioneers to over 20 Reg. Pioneers, mostly women whose husbands worked. This made it easier for those wanting to Aux. Pioneer to do so because they would have some company out in Service every day of the week.
Dumping out the sludge: This sounds bad, and it is because Christianity should focus on concern for ‘people’ ... but as a Sales Organization, it was ideal. We took those Pub Cards of those who would never moved from ‘inactive’ or ‘irregular’ and tossed them into a “DEAD” file. Any cards older than 5 years, we destroyed. All others of the “Dead” file were kept from the CO when we gave him records during his visit. This way he only saw a few who moved from ‘inactive’ or ‘irregular’ to better performance.
More Socialization: Aside from the ‘end-of-the-month’ parties, we also had quarterly and annual parties for Reg. Pioneers and Aux. Pioneers who Pioneered during that quarter. This involved having beer, chips, cheese, soft drinks, a house with a Big Screen to watch a ball game, and other exciting stuff ... or we went to the beach for a party with hot dogs, hamburgers, and all the trimmmings.
Final Results: The CO loved it because he saw us move from 4 Reg. Pioneers, a Reg. Pub average of 7 hours/month to over 20 Reg. Pioneers with a Reg. Pub average of 12 hours/month. He saw our loads of ‘inactive’ and ‘irregulars’ move to a mere 4 or 5 individuals. He saw a big increase in Elders and MSs too, as well as better meeting attendance.
How did the Pubs feel about this? Obviously, many felt good because they responded and the Congregation grew out of being the “Armpit of the Circuit” to being the “Shinning Star” of the Circuit ... The CO used our plan as a ‘blueprint’ to help other weaker congregations in the Circuit. BUT ... some Pubs and Elders did not like my level of detail of a Database on the PC, as this made them feel more like a Sales Organization ... which is what they are, as this tended to cheapen their Service. But these were greatly outnumbered by the clones and robots who enjoyed the change to a lock-step march of JWs and Elders side-by-side in the Field Service. We pleased Big Momma in Brooklyn, but deep down we knew we also cheapened ourselves before God.
Last but not Least: I kind of trembled posting this because I have little doubt that some beady-eyed little nerd at Bethel will monitor our board, and see how a former JW Elder detailed how his former congregation turned around the from being a weak group to a star ... for such a Bethel nerd might share this in some fashion with the big bosses, and who knows ... I would just hate to think that something I said as an x-JW would continue to help JWs be more active.
But, with the Internet, and more and more JWs waking up and leaving, hopefully it is too late for the organization to make any real comeback.