As the number of adherent's continue to dwindle . . .
. . . more and more Kingdom Halls are closing or being sold around the world. Perhaps you have heard reports of a vast number of Kingdom Hall closure's in areas of Europe, not to mention the incredible amount of Kingdom Halls being sold in the United States. Also, one cannot help but notice a significant decrease in attendance at thousands of Kingdom Hall locations around the United States. One only need visit some video's on YouTube whereas a meeting is interrupted by groups who engage in what is known as, "Kingdom Hall crashes." While we do not endorse any such behavior be thrust upon a religious place of worship, we also understand the unbelievable level of personal pain many have experienced by the continued abusive behavior by organizational leadership, as sanctioned by the Governing Body. But when glancing at the many video's in which such a thing occurs, the viewer will readily see how few publisher's there are in a vast many of the Kingdom Halls. In fact, the Kingdom Hall I once attended, and my wife currently attends is capable of holding comfortably about 130 people. For the past ten years, it has dwindled to around an average of 40 publishers mid-week, and about 50 max on Sunday.
A short while ago, I was having a conversation with a dear friend who has also left the organization as I had. During the course of our conversation, my friend said to me, ". . . you know, it seems no matter how many people are leaving the organization, it seems the Governing Body just continues to tighten the nut tighter and tighter!" I saw his words as mere truth. One needs only turn on JW Broadcasting and tune in to a talk by a Governing Body member, or helper to quickly see the emphasis placed on one of two main themes: Keeping to the strict status quo, and a plea for more donations. These two things have become the commonplace keynote. Not only is strict emphasis placed on rules of conduct, be it "tight pants," "grooming," "meetings on time," etc, the nut gets wrenched tighter and tighter on other policies as well. In fact, the Governing Body's strong emphasis to following the counsel and "body of law," is probably more emphatically stressed in the "Examining The Scriptures Daily," than anywhere else. So often is the counsel not appropriately applied in the comment section of the Daily Text, it more often than not gives the adherent his or her daily dose of "do it this way," or "don't do it this way" prescription for behavior. This is their version of a daily devotional.
So, what is going on with the decline in the organization? Certainly, when one considers the tight grip the organization continues to level against the innocent sheep, is it any wonder that so many feel fatigued and "tossed about?"
TOOLS, AND MORE TOOLS
Another reason the mass exodus is knocking, is research is more available now than ever before. When the leadership of the organization was beginning back in the late 1800's, and well in to the 1980's, research was only available, for the most part, to the leadership. Whatever research on any specific topic was desired by an adherent, they were very much limited to whatever lay available on the bookshelves at their local public library. Still, even with the invention of microfilm and other helpful tools, the research was still very limited and difficult to obtain. By contrast, the leadership primarily existed in two main hubs of the United States territory, New York and Pennsylvania. There was absolutely no end to the plethora of research tools, be it books, professor's, Library of Congress, Scholars, Universities and so on! Therefore, whatever doctrine(s) that were decided on by the Governing Body would, for the most part, go largely unchallenged - for again, the research tools available to the "rank and file" was extraordinarily difficult to engage in.
But with the information age, most anything a person wishes to research is available at the stroke of a few keystrokes while watching your favorite programme on your recliner. Almost all written materials (present and past) have been digitized into massive databases, which are accessible from around the world within seconds! In fact, even developing countries have access to the internet and such research is readily available as easily as it is for those sitting in the high offices of the headquarters branch in New York.
Of course, as the deepest and most significant research tools are now available, more and more friends of the organization are "testing" to see of what they have been taught is consistent with the bible. Some may even decide to research such doctrine simply because of conflict with conscience. This was the case with me on a couple of levels. First, when it came to the teaching by the Governing Body that Jesus is NOT our Mediator, this caused serious conflict in my conscience. But for a vast number of years, I ignored my conscience in lieu of trusting that the brothers leading the organization had done their proper research, and would NEVER mislead us. Little did I know! When I researched this topic, I came to realize not only had we been taught wrong on the subject, but the teaching was based on a desire to be lauded by man, revered by the adherent's. It all came down to authority. Is it any wonder we are warned in God's Word, "the heart of man is treacherous." Even King David's heart became treacherous, on more than one occasion. On one occasion, as you may recall David decided to take the census against the command of Jehovah to refrain from doing so (2 Samuel 24). His treachery in this regard led to the death of seventy thousand people, not to mention the collateral damage that resulted from the child that mourned the loss of their parent, or the grandparent that mourned the loss of their grandchild - a number that no doubt reached in to the hundreds of thousands! But when we examine "why" David took the census, the account tell us that Satan enticed him to do this. Thus, a man (David) who spoke with God, was used by the Almighty on many occasions was still enticed to sin by Satan. Can we imagine imperfect men, claiming their authority originates with God despite no scriptural evidence, may also be similarly be used and enticed by Satan? Certainly, the question requires no answer!
Just as important if not more so is the atrocities associated with child abuse in the organization. The Governing Body has been deceptively and prolifically effective at hiding the truth as it regards the scope, or breadth of child abuse in the organization. But they have even proven far more effective at fooling the adherent's as to the scriptural reasoning behind their decision to protect pedophiles by not requiring overseer's to report such cases to the authorities. At first glance, the average person in the organization thinks the Governing Body's stand is completely scriptural and fine. This is because the average person does not do their proper research. . . and that is exactly what the Governing Body is banking on! For instance, recently brother Splane did a part on JW Broadcasting in which a brother was appointed to reason on the organization's biblical stand when it comes to the "two-witness" rule.
What was brought out in the broadcast was the two-witness rule in Deuteronomy 19:15 when it says, ""A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed." The brother left the matter there before turning to Jesus words in the new testament. But wait!! He failed to remind the publisher's of two VERY important key points. First, we are no longer under the Judeo-Christian way of doing things any longer! We are under the Christian scriptures. However, since he brought out the two-witness rule in Deuteronomy 19:15 . . . let's look just a little further in Deuteronomy 22:25-27. Notice this ONE-WITNESS situation: "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her."
Here, the only witness was the woman who was raped. And her word was enough to convict the man! How much more so a child?
Second, the brother (as mentioned above) takes the viewer to Jesus words in Matthew 18:16 where it reads: "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED." However, there is another point the Governing Body is deliberately hiding in this. What is it? The scripture and account is referring to SIN. Child abuse is not only a sin . . . it is a CRIME. As such, the ancient nation of Israel was a nation, set up with its own Legislative, Judicial, and Penal system! The Christian congregation is not set up as a nation. It is only a congregation, in which the elder's serve to admonish only. And by two or more witnesses, a matter (or sin) may be brought forth. That is why we are told that God has His "minister's for justice," to handle CRIMES. Romans 13:4,5 says, "for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake."
Yes, the Governing Body has a motive, and it is to work at showing the adherent's what they want them to see! They are interested only in divulging what they want the viewer to see! That is why research is so very critical for each one of us!
THE LAST MILLION
With the above mentioned points, is it any wonder that so many are researching and leaving the organization? More and more are realizing that their relationship with God and his Son, Jesus should not be based on a legalistic approach to worship, with massive parameter's being set by a body of men who lead by absolute control. A person must be free to worship based on freedom of their bible trained conscience. Of course, there are always going to be those who are going to stick with the organization down to the very last "trumpet," so to speak. They trust these men more than all other things in the world. They are willing to do anything, go anywhere - even if it may mean a gentle step that leads over a cliff, believing that they will be caught on the hands of angels. Yes, even if the mass exodus should begin tomorrow, or five or even ten years from now - there will be those that will be part of the last million standing, honestly believing (as then told by the leadership, whomever they will be) that they will be the only million to inherit everlasting life, and that all else forsook the Most High God. Yes . . . they will even imagine that the sacrifice of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus was only good for those few, whether it be eight million, or the last million!