Recently I sat down and had a conversation with Ida and Jim, a couple who are Jehovah Witnesses (from now on referred to as “JW”). I met Ida two weeks previously, while dropping a friend off at their house. I asked if we could get together in the future so that I could learn about what JW’s believe and teach. She was delighted, wrote down her number, and said that I could call and set up a time to meet.
I agreed to meet with Ida and her husband Jim at their Kingdom Hall (what JW’s call their place of meeting). I received a friendly greeting as I was ushered into their building. After some small talk and a quick tour of the building (there building’s are very simple in architecture and are only built to hold no more than 130 people. I hear that they build their Kingdom Halls in about 3-4 days time), we sat down to discuss what the JW’s teach about the Bible.
Now, before you get the impression that I am on the road to conversion, let me assure you, I am not convinced JW’s are in line with the claims of the Bible. In fact, I truly believe that many fine folks have been severely misguided in their understanding of scripture(especially the teachings of Jesus.) Nevertheless, I was impressed by a couple of areas in which I think evangelical churches could learn.
Diligence in Evangelism
Ida and Jim told me that they spend 12 hours a week going house to house sharing their faith with strangers, 12 hours! Admittedly, much of this motivation comes from a works based understanding of salvation. However, The church could glean a lot from the effort JW’s make to reach converts. It is true that the bible teaches salvation apart from works, but many Christians forget that salvation is for the purpose of good works . The Bible teaches that we strive to do good works because of God’s grace. James points to this truth when he says we are to be doers of the word and not hearers only; that faith without works is dead. Imagine if Christians sought to do half of what Jehovah Witnesses do to reach the lost, what kind of results would there be?
Focus on Teaching
The JW’s do not place much focus on extravagant and attractional worship services. There auditorium is very simple: a pulpit, a microphone, a sound booth, and chairs. They sing songs, but it is all done with a CD accompaniment led by a volunteer. What they do place a lot of emphasis on however, is teaching the Bible (Indeed, with a high emphasis on the Watch Tower magazine). They meet three times a week and have over 2 hours of Bible Study each meeting. The reason JW’s are firm in what they believe is because they are having it engrained in them multiple times a week. The problem obviously, is that they are taught not to learn the scriptures on their own, but what those, who organize the Watch Tower magazine, tell them the scriptures mean. Nevertheless, we could learn a lot from JW’s intentional focus on Bible study. It may prove productive for Christian Churches to place more emphasis on Bible teaching than creating attractional worship services and programs.
Please don’t misunderstand me, the belief system of the JW’s has some severe problems. There denial of the deity of Christ, strange understanding of the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation, and continued false predictions of the end times are just a few of the flawed teachings presented by the JW’s. Yet, the two areas mentioned above display a couple of areas in which the evangelical church could gain insight. Hopefully, we are always seeking to improve our growth in Christ. Ironically, we sometimes learn from those outside of orthodoxy.
P.S. I will be meeting with Ida and Jim again to discuss the Deity of Jesus. Pray that the truth will be exposed and their eyes will be opened.