Jehovah's Witnesses May Have Peaked in Membership at 8 Million (+/-)

by OnTheWayOut 74 Replies latest jw friends

  • OnTheWayOut

    I don't have all the details of their new "service year" numbers, but I have read enough on JWN to state my opinion pretty strongly.

    Memorial attendance for 2015 was down.

    While they kept saying they were going to build a bunch of new Kingdom Halls, and everybody is still in recovery from Watchtower taking all the local money away, they say pretty much that there isn't enough money to build new Kingdom Halls.

    Putting GB members on the videos at jw . org has allowed people to really put a face and personality to these guys and remove the mystery of how they should be such deeply spiritual serious men. Instead they see silly thoughts about tight pants and, really everything that comes out of Lett's mouth is delivered ultra-goofy, along with the money reports.

    The GB lost credibility a little more with every new light that shone down, with the strangest one being "overlapping generation."

    Young people in first, second, and third world countries are finding access to the internet. Even long-time faithful ones are being steered to the internet. Regardless of how much they are told, they will stray and take a look at jwfacts or negative reports on child abuse or something about the Australian Royal Commission or YADDA YADDA.

    They have manipulated numbers for peaks for years, but that is catching up to them.

    Your thoughts on this are appreciated.

  • cofty

    I tend to agree.

    The first sign of discontent is reduction in financial support. When I was in a church the pastor upset quite a few of the members. Attendance dropped a bit but donations plummeted.

    The WT no longer has income from printing books, it needs the goodwill of its members which it has damaged for the reasons you stated.

    Coming out from behind the curtain was a big mistake. Their ego will be their downfall.

  • sir82

    Memorial attendance has fluctuated before. I'd hesitate to say it is definitely trending downward until there are 2 or more consecutive years of drops.

    The only other significant numbers I've seen reported are peak publishers and number of baptisms. Peak publishers increased only 0.2%, lowest rate in nearly 40 years. Number of baptisms declined for the 2nd year in a row.

    I'd say the news is quite bad for JW leadership, but not overwhelmingly bad, and it is too soon to assign long-term meaning to the numbers just yet.

    That said, the JW leadership is astoundingly inept at solving problems, and utterly short on creativity and imagination. They will have no clue about how to right their course, if indeed they have reached the top of the curve, other than to do what they've done for the past 80 years - publish demoralizing articles & talks about "doing more" and demonizing everything that they dislike.

  • neverendingjourney
    Putting GB members on the videos at jw . org has allowed people to really put a face and personality to these guys and remove the mystery of how they should be such deeply spiritual serious men. Instead they see silly thoughts about tight pants and, really everything that comes out of Lett's mouth is delivered ultra-goofy, along with the money reports.

    There was a Spanish-language international assembly in my hometown around 12 or 13 years ago. I grew up in a Spanish congregation, but the younger generation (I was in my early 20s back then) mostly spoke both English and Spanish.

    In any event, I was good friends with a Witness who like me had grown up in the religion but had not embraced it until late in his teens (I was baptized at 16; He at 18). There were two or three governing body members in attendance. If memory serves, they were Carey Barber, John Barr and Gerrit Losch. Losch spoke Spanish, the others gave their talks in English and used a translator.

    I was still "in" enough to be somewhat in awe of the GB, but this friend was visibly upset. He told me in confidence he thought one of the GB members was disrespectful in the way he delivered his talk. I remember his exact words: "It sounded like he was reading from Winnie the Pooh." His faith had visibly been shaken.

    In hindsight, I think a lot had to do with the fact that he was listening to a talk in a different language. We'd grown up immersed in Spanish-language meetings so the rhetoric was second-nature to us. Listening to it in a different language was like revisiting the religion altogether and experiencing it as a person off the street would.

    This friend is still a Witness. I believe he's been an elder and pioneer at various points over the past decade. Unfortunately, the experience of "seeing behind the curtain" wasn't enough to wake him, but that may not be the case for others, especially since GB 3.0, and Lett in particular, seem to be wackier in a more visible way than their predecessors.

  • Crazyguy
    To me, the tell tale sign was a couple of years ago when they stopped financially supporting the missionary's. Now this news out of India that they have pulled the plug their too. Probably in a lot of other places as well and we have not heard about it yet. Its like Starbucks putting new stores all over the world in places like Chad, Bolivia, and Bangladesh. Then realizing later that no one there likes coffee or can even afford to buy it. So now Starbucks has to take a loss sell off all these stores and run back to the markets where they can still make money. The Borg is attempting to do the same. But here's the reality, where most of the reported growth has come from in the past decade has come from these places their pulling away from. So unless they lie about the numbers, which I'm sure they will do or are already doing the numbers will go down.
  • OnTheWayOut

    Cofty, thanks for your thoughts. Financial support is the end-all and the most important figure. If they plummet in membership but increased in donations from the literature carts, they would not care one bit. But it just isn't happening. The members have traditionally gave time instead of money, and their time is down and their money is not up.

    sir82, they may indeed find a way to increase memorial attendance, but even though they claimed growth and a tremendous response to their web presence, it went down one year. I will contend that stopping the count of partakers is a sign of what's to come- the making up of numbers based on web-hits. They will enter the realm of fiction. Well, they probably already entered it, but they will expand it.
    Numbers went down before and may slightly rebound here and there, but I am being bold in predicting that their days of expansion and growth are done. The internet, their goofy thoughts, poor handling of child abuse, their taking the money from congregations- all that and more- I say it's unrecoverable and will be their downfall.
    I could be wrong and they can find a new way to recover. But I would bet that they are looking for ways to be content with a smaller membership right now.

  • elderINewton

    The critical piece of information is in the geographic growth/loss. If there is a loss, or even a zero gain in the USA, it will indicate if the peak has indeed been reached.

    Still interesting that we have yet to see that country breakdown yet. What will also be telling is the spend year over year for kingdom service that they usually list out, while a lump sum if its down or up will say much.

    I'm just not sure if the pinnacle of growth is there without the data. Its possible that it was the prior year.

    While I agree that financial is importing, the reality is that if your lacking funds you adjust your business model to move on. Making money in religion is like shooting fish in a barrel. You adjust and you survive. Just like Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.

    Membership is the critical piece.

  • tim3l0rd
    Looking at the trend from the 70s to 80s, they had a dip after the '75 debacle but recovered very well by pushing the idea that the end was close because of the understanding that the generation of 1914 would not pass away and a generation was 70 - 80 years. I don't see them recovering the same way they did in the 80s. They would have to come up with some clear idea that the end was within the next 10 - 20 years in order to work JWs into a frenzy. The only thing that may work is if they start pushing the idea that Noah preached for 120 years and 120 years from 1914 is 2034.
  • LostGeneration

    Two cents from me - Now that 2014 has come and gone, some JWs have to be rubbing a few of those brain cells together and wondering why Jesus is asleep at the wheel. 100 years of "last days" makes zero sense of course, so there has to be some churn happening as people come online and figure it all out. Probably no where near what happened after 75, but the effect is there.

    Next few years will be very interesting if they do go full on fire sale with the halls they want to close. Fewer halls is going to mean longer commutes. More will start ditching meetings. Less meeting attendance means less indoctrination and more faders.

  • freddo

    In the "1975" debacle and it's longer lived sibling the "Generation that saw 1914" debacle which ran out of steam in 1995, there were two things missing:

    1. The internet being freely accessed by everyone below the age of 70.

    2. JW's alive who remembered the last big "the end is nigh" debacle of 1925.

    This time, with the "overlapping generation" nonsense:

    1. There are plenty of jw's alive who remember 1975/1995.

    2. The internet exposes their stupidity to anyone aged 12 - 75 who has a smartphone.

    The memorial attendance has hovered just below 20,000,000 for four years. I see nothing coming that will make it increase.

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