After leaving the Watchtower I had a 2 year lapse where I was studying Mormonism. Not because I believed it, but because my girlfriend at the time was one. I took the time to attend Ward meetings with her, attend after church activities, join my in-laws for "Family Home Evening" I was pretty much immersed in the culture.
Looking back, I find it amazing to behold how much the Watchtower mimmicks much of the success the LDS church has with their programs. I am going to illustrate what I believe to be successful and unsuccessful implementations of their programs:
1- Family Home Evening
The LDS Church has had great success at this program which essentially sets aside 1 day out of the week [Monday] where the family will get together and have a spiritual discussion, hymns and games. This has been a staple in the Church for a long time. This program I believe is one of the most important since it creates culture in the church and helps with retention. Kids growing up in this environment will have fond memories with their family which they will directly associate with the Church itself. Genius!
Recently the Watchtower has changed its version of the Family Bible Study, which was largely a snorefest which only focused on studying a piece of Watchtower literature. Hardly something kids will connect with. In imitation of the LDS Church, the Watchtower is playing catch up with its new program "Family Worship Night" [Yeah that's original]
After viewing some of the videos of FWN, it seems they want this program to be a little more relaxed [such as the LDS Church model] My immediate impressions is that the Watchtower is more or less forcing a model of study on its members instead of letting the family heads take charge. Another top down model of worship that I believe is destined to fail.
The LDS Church are masters of media and propaganda. They are always at the forefront of this. Over the past few years the LDS church has rolled out numerous different campaigns, one of note would be "IM A MORMON" where they show average [and diverse] groups of people on the job, in the home, and at church. They want the average joe to connect with them as "normal" people, and at the end they make the big reveal.... IM A MORMON.
The Watchtower over the past couple of years has had to play catch up. JW Broadcasting, Cartoons, Apps etc.. all tools individuals have used to connect the modern world to the Watchtower Organization. This is one area which I believe the WT is having success with. Since the death of Ted Jarecz,[or however you spell his name] the old rugged Watchtower model of discipleship is gone away with. It will be interesting to see how the WT develops its own propaganda in the future.
3- Relief Society
The LDS Church has a womens organization called the "Relief Society" generally purposed to be the charitable arm of the Church. Members of this organization are encouraged to visit the sick, depressed, and other active members for encouragement and assistance. This again is a huge success for the church. Again, it keeps retention low, and encourages all members [even women] to have an active authoritative role in the organization.
This is one area where the WT Fails miserably. The closest they have is the Elder Shepherding Call. Which again, is a completely separate category. The WT really has no outlet for women in the organization that encourages this type of fellowship.
4- Apostolic Authority
The LDS Church prides itself on having the only living prophet along with 12 disciples living on the earth. This is a much needed "X" factor that gives them an illusion of authority that can be trusted by the rank and file.
The Watchtower has always struggled with this authority factor over the years, not quite knowing what to do with itself. On one hand they are the chosen "Faithful and discreet slave" class of men. But what SPIRITUAL authority do they have?
Well they like to play both cards:
On one hand, they play the humble, ever so human, bible interpreter that is no more special then you and me.
On the other hand [when convenient] they play the spiritually anointed, Kingdom Priest who is given all earthly authority over the domestics.
This plays on the mind of the Jehovah's Witness and they can switch between any of the view they want depending on the circumstance before them. Whats the bottom line? Well... The Watchtower has an identity issue with its authority. They are not prophets nor do they claim to be, they are not popes, essentially they are dealing with individuals in the Organization who only accept their authority based on a thinly veiled emotional acceptance of it.
This causes huge problems when JW's and non-jws alike do not agree with a particular interpretation of scripture. The question will naturally arise: On what basis should I accept this?
The Watchtower I believe is slowly moving towards the LDS model of authority. More recently they have used such glorious terms as: "Spiritual Mother" or "Glorious Ones" to refer to themselves. You will notice, as Jesus diminishes in their view of his divinity, so does the Governing Body Increase in its own authority.
5- Authority in the limelight
An extension of the previous point. The LDS Church has always kept its leaders in the spotlight. When I go to an LDS Ward, its not uncommon to see the "Hierarchy chart" of all the "Apostles" and prophets shrined in every activity room in the church. This serves as a continual reminder to all church members of who is in charge.
The Watchtower has attempted to take the path of humility by not having their leaders in the spotlight. Up until the last few years, the only authority was the voice behind the Watchtower which more or less resembled the Wizard of OZ. Just an authoritative voice behind the curtain. More recently however, the Watchtower has picked up on the LDS Church cues and put the Governing Body in the center of attention with JW Broadcasting, constant streams of videos of special talks, annual meetings, etc... Its Governing Body 24/7!
There are much more similarities that I could mention. Perhaps you guys have noticed some?