I'd like to start off by saying that I will be very vague in everything I say. I am fairly "high up" in JW land and have to be somewhat careful how I word and say stuff. Sorry in advance if any specific details are left out.
- First, I can confirm first hand that the only real growth is coming from undeveloped countries. I'm talking 150+ baptisms, per convention. Now while that isn't a huge number, compared to US baptisms per convention, it is a lot. It's also worth noting though that these are very poor people. Little education, without much to donate, if anything at all. I've seen it in person.
- We have often heard on here that the GB are now "rock stars". I have witnessed this first hand. I'm talking about a mob circling around them when they are at an event. Pictures, signatures the whole sha-bang. They almost get knocked over at times for how close a large group of people are around them. When they walk in the hallways, and do not want to be bothered, they actually have "body guards" around them. They are most likely just brothers in suits but they still ask the "friends" to move out of the way as they come through. They can't walk down the hall way alone without getting mobbed.
- I know many, many individuals that are being let go at both Bethel and as special pioneers in the US. The R&F seem somewhat confused by the whole thing, like they aren't 100% sure what to make of it. I have heard a few even say, "good now they have to pay for stuff like the rest of us!". The Bethelites are not happy. The ones being sent home seem rather bitter yet at the same time trying to come off as still being really spiritual. A lot also seem to be in shell shock. You hear a lot of witnesses also trying to justify why the branch would do this. It's pretty funny the stuff they come up with.
- All special pioneers that are young enough to care for themselves are being assigned to pioneering. Only the ones that are too old to care for themselves or enter the job market are being kept. I wonder if the term special pioneer will be done away with. The amount being laid off is a lot. A majority of them.
- Child abuse. This is not being talked about at all. At least around me. I heard 2 R&F talk about it when it happened, other than that, nothing. Dead silence, like nothing is going on. They seemed to excuse it with "it happens anywhere". I think they forget that they said it proved the Catholics were a false religion when it happened to them. I think a lot know about it, but no one is talking, at least not openly. It's the elephant in the room that is being ignored. I am 99% sure though that all CO's have been informed as to how to handle anyone bringing it up per congregation they visit.
- There are becoming two groups in the congregation, a split down the middle almost. Every year there seems to be a bigger gap between super spiritual JW's and spiritually weak JW's. I am noticing these two groups becoming more and more noticeable. You either have JW's that are super in, elders, pioneers, MS, need greaters etc... Or the complete opposite of what they view as "spiritually weak". Barely any service, bad meeting attendance and so on. It seems like there is no longer an in between. You're now either one or the other. The "middle class jw" is being pushed into one of the two groups.
- The younger ones. They have a big problem here. Most younger ones I know and see could care less about spiritual things. They do what they have to and nothing more. They play the video games they want, watch the movies they want, and party. I see very little, if any, teenagers that have spiritual interest. They are far and few between. The GB definitely don't have a hold on the kids like they did when I was a kid or even further back in the day. They are so disconnected that it is extremely noticeable.
The next time I am going to say may upset a few. We usually think of JW's having no critical thinking skills, question nothing the GB say etc... I'm going to venture to say that a lot do. In the US at least. I'd say that more than you think are questioning, have doubts or are just straight up are staying for family reasons. It's hard to tell since everyone is afraid to talk but I feel like a lot have a bigger clue about the things going on then we'd imagine.
I'll update with more information soon.