Is the Jehovah’s Witnesses Elder Program in Peril
|By: Lorri MacGregor; ©September 2002|
|What are Jehovah’s Witness Elders, and why does there seem to be a critical shortage of qualified candidates for the position? Lorri MacGregor explains.|
Years ago, Jehovah’s Witness congregations had a surplus of qualified men from which to choose their elders. I remember back in the 1960’s, qualified men waited for years to be one of the chosen few. Now they are often recruited immediately, as soon as they qualify. What exactly is a Jehovah’s Witness elder?
Jehovah’s Witness elders are men (only) who have the responsibility of running the congregations. Jehovah’s Witnesses have no paid clergy, but one man is chosen by the Society to be the presiding elder, and two others join him to form the dreaded “committee.” Every Jehovah’s Witness’s blood runs cold if they are ever summoned before the “committee.” Other elders perform less critical tasks, but are held in high honor nevertheless. They can work their way up to the “committee,” where the real power dwells. These elders, by their judgments on others, virtually decide the issue of eternal life for their gullible followers. It’s a real power trip and many otherwise insignificant men in the real world become very powerful indeed in the congregation. Imagine being a janitor in real life but deciding who stays and who goes in an organization claiming to be the only place to find eternal life!
An interesting and slightly desperate article appeared in the January 1, 2002 Watchtower on page 29 called “Elders, Train Others to Carry the Load.” The article begins by saying there is an “urgent need” for elders. This is, no doubt, due to the exodus of longtime Jehovah’s Witnesses from this flawed organization in North America. Virtually all their growth in numbers is in third world countries. Apparently there is no longer a surplus of willing potential elders to be shipped off to third world countries to oversee the work! The call has gone out and we wonder how successful it will be.
The next point raised by the Watchtower organization is that many elders who have served for “decades” are now too old to carry on, but replacements are obviously scarce at this point in their history. You see, time is the enemy of a false prophet. These elders have served faithfully, believing Armageddon was “just around the corner,” and they would have positions of oversight in God’s new earthly kingdom. Now they must face reality. The Society has set false dates for the end of the world in 1874, 1879, 1914, 1915, 1925, the 1940’s, 1975 and the year 2000. It’s hard to continue to follow a false prophet, especially when you’re old and tired!
The next point the Society makes is that elders are serving in many capacities outside the congregations, such as the Hospital Liaison Committee, who rushes about trying to make sure hospitals do not give blood to the dying faithful! What a waste of everybody’s time, since the Bible in no way prohibits blood transfusions, except in the minds of those controlling the Jehovah’s Witness organization. Their far-out interpretations of fragments of scriptures to concoct their blood transfusion doctrine are legendary.
There are also building committees and Assembly committees, etc., etc. No wonder elders are tired and quitting! Being part of this works-oriented group is exhausting!
However, this Watchtower article offers a solution, of sorts. They want the existing elders, before they leave the sinking ship for a variety of reasons, to train others! Of course, they have to hopscotch through the Bible to motivate their tired workers. Their primary example comes straight out of their false doctrine on Jesus Christ. Denying His Deity (that He is God), they point out how Christ was “trained” by Jehovah God! They claim Jesus was being trained in Genesis 1:26 during creation, and also introduce Proverbs 8:20, misapplying the term “master worker” to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately for them, Proverbs Chapter 8 has as its topic “Wisdom,” (feminine gender in the Hebrew), and has no application to Jesus Christ at all! The fact that “our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” requires “training” is laughable for us, but tragic for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The article goes on to point out that many Jehovah’s Witness brothers have been around for years, but for a variety of reasons, have never been appointed elders. Now they are to be considered. Desperate times call for desperate measures! Even “rejects” are being courted by the Society.
Also, elders are now to cultivate a class of brothers called “ministerial servants.” This is a junior appointment on the way to becoming elders. These ones hand out magazines and literature or do other menial tasks. Now the elders are being counseled to speed up the work of cultivating such ones so they can take spiritual responsibilities in the congregation. Ministerial servants are told that if they wish to progress to eldership they should seek out the elders and follow their advice.
Elders are also told to have an “attitude adjustment” and start delegating responsibilities to others and not think they are the only ones qualified to do the job. This will spoil the “good, old boys club” attitude that has been in place for years. The haughty behavior of this controlling clique may soon be a thing of the past, and not a moment too soon for the victims of this prevalent behavior.
In a final desperate plea, baptized brothers are told to seek out more responsibilities and go to the elders and ask for training. Obviously the luxury of having a few years to mature in the Jehovah’s Witness faith is gone. Heavy responsibilities are now being laid on the newly-baptized ones.
It is so hard to belong to an organization such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and be constantly striving in a legalistic manner to be good enough for God. Grace is forgotten in the rush to “work out your own salvation” as the Society instructs. It is truly a man made organization, devoid of the Holy Spirit, who motivates true Christians to do good works because of their gratitude and love for God. These works are not burdensome, but a joy! We can only invite Jehovah’s Witnesses to take a realistic look at their organization, and then turn to the real Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, and serve the living God, instead of a dying organization.