Transparency in Field Service Hours

by Earnest 23 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Earnest

    slimboyfat : The phrase “some time should be spent on the ministry each month” at the end gives the game away. It indicates there were some “pioneers” who were fulfilling their entire monthly quota using time spent on assignments and none on the ministry.

    Thanks for your comment, slim. That thought entered my mind as well. You're right, it doesn't say these credited hours are not included in the annual report although that is what I inferred. I suppose we'll never know but I'm inclined to think the Society is so pedantic about what can be counted, these hours are more likely to be included in hours spent on charity work or similar.

    Edited to thank Drearyweather for his clarification on credited hours.

  • Listener

    Drearyweather quoted fro KM August 81


    The Society is interested in knowing how much time is spent in proclaiming God’s truths to those who are not dedicated, baptized Witnesses. So time spent in shepherding or other calls made on those who are not strong spiritually and those who have not associated for some time should not be counted if the individual is a baptized Witness. It is a labor of love."

    According to this, it would mean that witnessing was not considered a labor of love, which goes along with the idea that it is a works based religion.

    But why does the Organization want to know how many hours JWs put into preaching but not know how much time their Elders spend on their various duries? They have no way of knowing what a burden they create for many Elders and their families.

  • fulano

    When serving as an elder and as a special pioneer or missionary you were no supposed to count hours spent on, for example branch construction work, special committees. When one didn’t achieve the 140 hours there was a part on the report where you could put comments as why you didn’t achieve the required hours (sick-days, so many SC hours, branch work etc).

    Same thing for the Bethel commuters pioneers. Hours working at the branch were never counted as fs hours.

    Elders could only count there public talks as fs.

  • slimboyfat

    I stand corrected.

    I do remember an elder saying that time we spent visiting an elderly sister in a care home counted as field service for him but not for me, because he was an elder. (This was nearly 20 years ago) And during this pandemic an elder said to me that he managed zero hours in field ministry for the month because he had no contacts to make within the rules. This combined with frantic telephoning all members, including inactive ones, I took to imply that, as an elder, he was counting shepherding time instead to make up his hours.

    But I might have misunderstood these comments, so I defer to those who are in a position to know better!

  • slimboyfat

    If it’s true that pioneers were never supposed to count assignment hours along with field service (I have no reason to doubt first hand experience of others on the issue) at the very least this document suggests that some pioneers were breaking the rules and counting these hours as field service anyway, to the extent that this clarification had to be issued.

    Is it possible that some elders have been under the impression that they are allowed to count shepherding as field service? Or might the rules have been tweaked over the years so that they counted, then didn’t count, then counted, then didn’t count?

    We see this on/off pattern with other organisational policies: special talk should be before/after the memorial. Coordinator/presiding overseer. Study long term with Bible students/no longer than 6 months. Unbaptised publishers can/can’t be disassociated.

    I think the whole concept of “pioneer” is a bit of a throwback anyway. At one time pioneers were allowed to purchase the literature for a reduced price. This was the primary material benefit of being a pioneer, and in that context it made sense to ensure that publishers “qualified” to access this “provision”. Since there is no longer any charge for the literature, the only distinction of being pioneer now is the prestige, the pioneer book, a few extra meetings and occasional applause during announcements.

    It still makes sense to scrutinise “special pioneer” and “missionary” hours because they receive money from the society.

  • smiddy3

    Reading all of these comments regarding the OP ,I am happified to know that the JW religion follows strictly to the example of First Century Christianity as outlined in the Christian Greek Scriptures ,NT.

  • road to nowhere
    road to nowhere


    There is no suggestion that this breakdown will be shared with ordinary members in the congregation

    Yes, pioneers are special people unlike the webelows.

    There are lots if creative ways to count time. And who can really check

  • fulano

    SBF. Your comment made me pondering about my personal situation in the nineties....why did I want to become a SP in a humid rainy European climate? Less money, no independence. It was the image. Sad but true.

    Why than becoming a missionary? Same thing, plus the adventure of being assigned to remote places. Never a desire to help people or to preach.

    I am ashamed.

  • Earnest

    slimboyfat : I think the whole concept of “pioneer” is a bit of a throwback anyway. At one time pioneers were allowed to purchase the literature for a reduced price. This was the primary material benefit of being a pioneer, and in that context it made sense to ensure that publishers “qualified” to access this “provision”.

    I believe the original reason for reporting field service was because colporteurs / pioneers were entitled to keep the income from the literature to defray expenses. In the article I Am Learning to Love the Colporteur Work More Each Day (Watchtower, May 15, 2012) it says :

    By 1897, nearly one million Dawns had been distributed, largely by the colporteurs. Most of them lived on the small reimbursement they received for each Watch Tower subscription or book they placed.

    In Zion's Watch Tower of April 1881 it first presents this idea of remuneration in the article "Wanted 1000 Preachers". It says (p.214) :

    As few could afford to travel, pay their board and clothe themselves without some income, we propose to furnish the TRACTS and DAY DAWNS free, and to allow any such person to take subscriptions for the WATCH TOWER, using the money obtained from both of these sources, ("Day Dawn and Watch Tower," - the Tracts are free and must not be sold,) in defraying necessary expenses. Should your receipts be more than would be needed to pay expenses, (not at all probable,) you would be expected to make some returns to us.

    It was only in 1943 that there was a time requirement and so a report was needed to show the number of hours spent in the ministry. In an article "Righteous Requirements" in The Watchtower July 1, 1943 it says (p.205):

    [The Lord] says, 'Let us assign the field, the world, to special pioneers, regular pioneers and companies of Jehovah's witnesses in an orderly way,,,' He says the requirements for special pioneers shall be 175 hours and 50 back-calls per month ,,,; and for regular pioneers 150 hours and as many back-calls and studies as can be properly developed during that time. And for company publishers he says, 'Let us make a quota of 60 hours and 12 back-calls and at least one study a week for each publisher.'

    Thereafter the number of hours spent became a measure of spirituality and a requirement for all of Jehovah's witnesses and not just pioneers.

  • slimboyfat

    Thank you for the reference to that 1943 Watchtower!

    I’ve been searching for that article for some time, if that’s the one that issues new organisational direction in the voice of the “Lord” himself. It must rank as one of the more bizarre WT articles in the archive.

    Some old time JW pioneers I knew (now departed) did seem to view “selling” the magazines as a sort of part time business. It provided a (very modest) income that meant they didn’t need to do regular secular work. At the same time Watchtower still made a profit, even at the reduced pioneer rates. Everyone was a winner. This was the successful Watchtower formula for decades. This is why I believe 1990 was such a pivotal year for Watchtower, because it was the year when they stopped charging for the literature, and the wheels came off their business model. They’ve been coasting ever since.

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