Is the Watchtower organisation facing the biggest crisis of its history?
It just seems to me that gentle decline will be hard for JWs to pull off.
Why? I'm not so sure they are so dependent on prosperous growth. Growth has been declining for years, and even JWs realize that in developed countries (outside USA perhaps), "native" JW has already been declining for many years. Most of the new people are refugees and children only.
As happened with the Worldwide Church of God. Their crisis was also prompted by money problems.
The article you link to says that after the death of Armstrong, the church changed their doctrines and that was the cause of the splintering. So not per se any money problems (as far as I read the article).
It's well possible to put a spin on the slow decline too. "In the times of the end, Satan will try to lure people away from the truth." etc... "Be steadfast!" Gult tripping and fear mongering continues to work.
Besides, a lot of JWs will need serious help and feel lost if the organization would really implode. Who hasn't heard of the "where should I go?" argument (in case JW isn't the truth).
What a great thread. I started a thread a couple weeks ago where I asked the question whether the time may be right for a charismatic leader to take control of the organization. Whether that new leader is a GB helper, GB member or someone unknown.
(the thread wasn't too popular and I hesitate to resurrect it)
I can only state what I know from my wife, a few associates I maintain from my bethel days and extended family:
-they don't contribute for literature anymore because it's mostly electronic
-they used to donate for literature and local KH expenses. Now it's local KH expenses that they donate to. They seem to equate worldwide work donations with literature donations. Maybe that's why donations are drying up.
-the technology is a two edged sword. They are proud to use it and feel advanced, but the older ones and those not tech savvy are constantly having issues. they are always looking for a better app to use for studying and synching multiple devices. they also get frustrated about running out of memory for the material they've studied on their device.
-When more than a couple dubs are together in a group it's all positive. Positive they are right, positive the end is coming immediately. The various changes in the teachings and the world news all prove to them that the end is nigh.
-When I'm alone with one of them, only the ones I know pretty well, they will admit to feeling tired, stressed and hopeful (not convinced) that the end is coming soon or that it must come soon because they can't hold on much longer and Jehovah wouldn't let that happen to his people.
These are just regular average dubs from different economic backgrounds and areas of the the USA.
The rank and file seem to confuse changes and revisions with a heightened expectation of the end. I don't know how it will affect the majority of witnesses when it doesn't come.
" I don't know how it will affect the majority of witnesses when it doesn't come."
The same way it is affecting the long time in JW's. They are relying of prescription meds and alcohol. We see countless family members and friends taking this route. It's a bigger problem than we can imagine. We were shocked at how many people are dealing with issues this way.
I do not have any way of seeing the future, but I do feel that they are facing the worst crisis in their history, mainly by reason of their size, the small ship of Rutherford's day was easier to control than the Supertanker of today.
I also feel that if they can get through the next two or three years, then they will be able to manage an orderly downsizing of the whole Org, including member numbers, in such a way as to survive.
But these coming years are crucial, and I do not get the sense that the GB/Leaders actually have a Master Plan, they seem to just react to each problem, not be really proactive.Not a good policy when new and moving targets keep popping up.
So I shall be watching with interest, hoping that they do in fact implode.
I think what we now see is a "writing on the wall" for the organization.
Just a first or second stage.
Compare it with the USSR, another system, with glasnost and perestroika, started because the old system was not longer sustainable.
jw.org is in a transformation because the organization was no longer sustainable.
This leads to erosion of the leadership fundament. That's what we are in now.
They are trying to change this with short term changes. That leads to more and more problems.
Because the witness life in their purple cloud, it will take a long time that the changes are effecting the end of the line. So, the rank-and-file is like the orchestra on the Titanic.
Playing music when the organization is sinking.
Let's see what happens in two years from now.
Really great thread!
Excellent thoughts! Very accurate.
I'm getting super excited reading your excellent synopsis of what is going on and hope it comes to fruition! Here's to hoping!
I don't see any crisis...they have a money issue but they are sitting on billions of property...child abuse scandals and charity status are just Stan trying to stop the work according to dubs...
Nothing will change, they will be here for a while...they of course, in time, will need to address anointed partakers, generation that overlaps and 1914/1919 but that is easy when dubs believe the GB are in the hands of God...
While I feel that JWdom could survive, I think it is beginning to go into a downward spiral. I think that spiral could end with a smaller, weaker JWdom or maybe a shake-up in leadership and theology (what some might call a cleansing or reformation). I just don't think it can recover in that it can start really growing again and picking up steam as it did after its former problems or crises.
I get the sense that the "downward spiral" will be more evident in the "quality" vs. quantity of JWs. Whatever growth the organization has will likely be from those less educated, and from the more economically challenged parts of the world. As a result, the mathematical growth on the Annual Report will really be a representation of true growth in areas just mentioned, but those growth figures will be eaten into by the attrition that results as more and more people with critical thinking skills fade into inactivity.
All comments above very good and thought-provoking. I still think JWdom is facing its worst crisis ever; it's at a turning point.
After the crisis in the days of Russell and Rutherford, there was a recovery and the org (or what some might call an offshoot) prospered and experienced great growth in the following decades. It attracted some quality people - smart people who were willing to sacrifice greatly for it and promote it with zeal and urgency. JWs were excited. They were on the verge of the Promised Land. They looked forward to new Watchtower magazines, getting deep books analyzing prophecy, exciting district conventions; they were always looking for new light and indications of when the end was coming. Those days are gone.
I say that JWdom has peaked out. It has climbed the hill, lingered a little at the top, and is now beginning to start its journey down the other side, never to ascend again. It will never again grow as it did in the past. I say that for all the reasons that have been mentioned over and over again on this site - exposure of history and doctine on internet, dumbing down, time running out on prophecies, change of business model, exposure of GB, becoming more churchy (stupid videos & broadcasts), decreasing quality of individual JWs, decreasing quality and quantity of preaching, lawsuits, etc. How could JWdom ever grow again? Could it expereince growith as it did in the decades after Russell/Rutherford? I just don't see how.