Aust 2016 Census observations: JW's getting older, more kids leaving, and 30+ group aren't returning
Just before I left I was assigned to count the attendance. What I used to do was (roughly) count by age. Basically 3/4 of the cong was 40 and over and 1/4were 40 and younger. A very thin sprinkling of 18-25 year olds. At assemblies I saw the elderly and infirm section grow from 1 section to a 1.5 sections while the general attendance dropped by half a section. It would be fair to say in jw land is where has all the youth gone. Wt has never been youth and child friendly, and I think they know it. It's focus has always been on recruitment rather than retention. It been something that has always puzzled me as I was an active jw for decades and when I eventually left only 3 people could be bothered to see how I was. I'm so glad I never spent another minute of my life in that religion. I kind of don't know if I'm happy about the after care I got or insulted.
This truly is a cult in decline, 25% reduction in Kingdom Halls in the US and Canada even more it would seam in other countries. Their desperation is showing too. Constantly trying to get people to believe that god has and organization and their it and that the GB are gods chosen group, from what I hear that's all they pretty much talk about anymore.
Theyll be pushing the fear tactics more and more too. The good news is recruiting is pretty much dead so their relying on the children now but even if 50% of those stay the cult will be just a shadow of its former self and as they get smaller they become less significant to even those still in.
Londo makes a great point. Children have never really been a focal point of the religion. Other than a few books and now some videos, nothing is ever really directed towards them. Certainly those held in higher regard (Bethelites, missionaries, COs) typically don't have kids. It's rare that Brother "Has a ton of kids" is viewed as an example.
But, a cult doesn't operate to the good of its members. It uses its members to the good of the organization.
I'm not so sure they are concerned with the liability as many other religious organizations have figured out how to deal with youth groups. I think they just don't care because kids are a huge investment and one that may not pay off.
The whole organization is set up to recruit. They have always counted on larger numbers coming in than leaving. However, in most industrialized countries, that's simply not the case anymore. Couple that with kids being discouraged and the ones that are around being ignored with little to no growth from the outside, this is what you get.
It almost seems there is a faction within the WTS that realizes if they don't either 1) increase recruiting or 2) increase retention, they are in deep trouble. Of course, the default is to increase recruiting but the average JW is apathic towards recruiting so that really isn't going to work. They don't seem to understand that it takes much less effort to keep a customer than it does to get a new one. After all, the sale has already been done on the existing customer.
I'd say that in the last decade or so, JW organization does appear to be more child and youth oriented. Look at the prominence of Caleb and Sophie. So, at some level, this stagnating organization recognises that its major growth from now on - especially in western democratic countries - is from those born into the religion.
That is a radical change - but one they have, until recent years, been slow to foster - or exploit, depending on your views on JW organization.