February 25th, 2011
Adapted from a post by “LostGeneration”
“Content is King” is a popular guideline to follow for those who run websites and mass communication outlets. It makes perfect sense, as demonstrated by sites like Jehovahs-Witness.net (and this one) that provide entertaining content for their targeted audiences. Even better, when content is added daily, users return repeatedly. Popular TV shows and movies are loved because they entertain customers with new content provided free or at low cost.
On the other hand, you have the content provided by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, delivered though the pages of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and during their weekly meetings. Several recent threads on Jehovahs-Witness.net have discussed meetings and what value (or lack thereof) they offer to their audience. A recent thread by forum member “Flipper” discussed how the Watchtower Society constantly hammers meeting attendance on their “sheep.” It’s obvious that the leadership feels that too many Witnesses are skipping out on their spiritual food by missing meetings. However, there is a good reason for a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses to show up for meetings at their local Kingdom Halls.
It’s the content of those meetings.
For years it’s been getting progressively worse. Those who actually attend are not learning anything new – only a constant rehash of everything they’ve already heard before. This is further complicated by the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are specifically told not to research the Bible without using Watchtower Society publications – meaning they only absorb the material they read through the rose-colored glasses of the Governing Body.
When they comment during the Watchtower or book study meetings, they are told that they should stick to the paragraph being read, not to add anything to the material, and not take up too much time. Even the Watchtower Study conductor (who used to have a little leeway in adding his own thoughts) has been reined in lately. They are told to “walk the line and keep your own input to a minimum.”
Sitting through a typical Watchtower Study…
Adding to the problem is the business-like nature of the meetings. People going to church are looking for a “spiritual” experience, a connection with their God. During the 30-something years I went to meetings, I never once felt anything approaching a “spiritual connection” to a higher power. I felt like I was attending an annual corporate shareholders meeting, just with different people getting up on stage trying to explain God and His message – with very little passion in their minds or hearts.
In recent years there is one less meeting, the Book Study, thanks to a “loving provision from the Governing Body.” But the Governing Body forgot to consider that the Book Study was one meeting where people actually did find a bit of refreshment for an hour each week – a time and place where the rigid Kingdom Hall atmosphere was replaced by the warmth and hospitality of someone’s home. The Book Study provided a place where, on occasion, Bible discussions could vary a bit away from the material. On rare occasions a real (and sometimes lively) discussion might break out for a few minutes.
Not any more. “Control” is more important to the powers in Patterson and Brooklyn. They can’t have people thinking for themselves – not even for a few minutes.
Circuit Assemblies and District Conventions are more of the same. They are just bigger meetings in larger buildings. One departure from the norm are the “dramas” presented at the District Conventions, something Jehovah’s Witnesses like to rave about. It’s the one hour a year they actually get some entertaining content from the Watchtower. Despite the fact that the dramas are based on the Watchtower’s revisionist history – at least the time spent watching the drama isn’t having to hear another elder pounding on them to “do more for the Organization – or end up being killed at Armageddon.”
A typical drama presented at a Jehovah’s Witness convention…
I don’t expect the Watchtower Society to change or improve their content. They have enough followers around to keep them in power and financially afloat for a long time to come. But clearly their days of growth are over, partly because their meetings and magazines have become too stale to interest anyone who actually thinks for themselves. They’ve either forgotten or simply don’t understand the concept of “content is King.”
I think it’s more likely that the leaders of the Watchtower just don’t care…
Editor’s note: Lost Generation, who began a larger thread at JWN that became the base for this article, was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and was member for three decades. He was disfellowshipped shortly after becoming an elder for questioning the Watchtower Society’s 1914 chronology and blood transfusion doctrines. I want to thank him again for allowing me to adapt his post for the benefit of the readers of Ex-JW.com. You can find his original comment on this link to the thread at JWN.