Tag Archives: Jehovah’s Witness Convention

Is Attendance Down at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Conventions?

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JW Convention, Cow Palace, 2017

Is Convention Attendance Down?

On a recent Saturday I attended part of the 2017 convention entitled “Don’t Give Up!” My intention was to attend the full day, like I usually do, but circumstances made me arrive at lunchtime and leave before the sessions of the day were over. Here are some of my experiences and thoughts from the day.

I wondered whether attendance would be down as others have been reporting. I believe it was down a little, but not greatly. It seemed there were more gaps between people than there had been in my past experiences. Take a look at the pic above and compare it with my pic from last year, below. It’s difficult to discern any difference from my blurry pics, but my experience was that there were slightly fewer people this year.

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JW Convention, Cow Palace, 2016

 

A Conversation

Upon arriving at lunchtime, I met my friend Mark, and we and walked out to Marla’s car (the sister he had ridden with), where we all ate together, enjoying the cool, sunny day outside of the Cow Palace (San Francisco). Because I have been recently experiencing less willingness on the part of JW’s to interact in any meaningful way (see my previous post, Preparing Jehovah’s Witnesses to Listen – A New Strategy), I used my new approach with Marla. She began asking me about whether I liked reading the Bible, and what translation I used. I could tell where she was going, but I didn’t let on. I told her I liked New American Standard and New International Version, and that I have them side-by-side in columns in my Bible app. To my surprise, she said she liked the NIV too. But then, sure enough, she began claiming the superiority of the New World Translation, because of its inclusion of “Jehovah” for God’s name, where others have substituted in the title “LORD.” I told her that I also liked a version that used the name “Yahweh” in the Old Testament, and explained that it was more accurate to the original language than the name “Jehovah” which was not invented until the 14th century.

Before that point could loom and spoil our relationship, I expressed my joy at being able to join with Jesus in calling God “Father,” and even something like “Dad” according to Romans 8. I was going to be kind and not drop the bomb that Watchtower teaches that adoption as sons (according to Romans 8) is only for the anointed 144,000, but then Marla did it herself. (She knows her doctrine better than most JW’s.) My cheerful response was: “Oh, I believe I have been adopted as Jehovah’s son, and when that happens, we’re free to address him as Jehovah, Yahweh, Father, Dad, or any of his other names. It’s fantastic!”

Then I changed the subject, mentioning the great weather Jehovah had provided for us that day. And we remained friends, chatting all the way back into the arena! (Actually, Marla did most of the chatting, which was essentially “humble-bragging” about the Jehovah’s Witness organization.)

Comments on One of the Talks

One of the most bizarre talks, in my opinion, was one among the four in the symposium “Imitate Those Who Have Endured,” specifically the talk on Jephthah’s Daughter (Judges 11:36-40). If you read Judges 11, it says that Jephthah (foolishly) vowed to offer as a burnt offering “whoever comes out of the door of my house.” The speaker then went on to assume that Jephthah’s daughter was not killed by her father, but lived the rest of her days a virgin in the temple, perhaps playing a part in raising Samuel. He (and I assume the Watchtower leaders) completely overlook that the Bible says that Jephthah “carried out the vow he had made regarding her.” The NWT even gives a biased translation of verse 40, saying that “from year to year, the young women of Israel would go to give commendation to the daughter of Jephʹthah,” in contrast to all other translations which say something like “each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate (or lament) the daughter of Jephthah.” I was amazed at the Watchtower’s sanitizating of the biblical story, and wondered what was their motive for doing so. I would appreciate your thoughts and insights about this in the comment section below. Yes, you, whether you’re a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing, faded, disfellowshipped, or a non-JW (or some other category I haven’t thought of). Remain anonymous if you need to. Jehovah loves you, and wants to adopt you as his son or daughter! (Read Romans 8.)

 

 

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Having Fun at Jehovah’s Witness Convention

If you have been to a JW convention, you might think that the title of this post is a contradiction. How could anyone have fun at a JW convention? Well, aside from counting ill-fitting suits and misinterpreted scriptures, I have had many pleasurable experiences while at the conventions.

Should I feel guilty that I find pleasure in ministering to JW’s? After all, it is a serious calling, and it’s life or death to the ones I’m reaching out to. Their relationship with Jehovah (or lack thereof) is as serious as a heart attack, and not something to be toyed around with. I do not find pleasure or satisfaction, as some do, in winning arguments, making them feel inferior, “setting them straight,” or “putting them in their place.” (OK, yes, I am tempted to do these things, but I’m gaining the victory over those sins. That’s right, I said sins.) But I cannot help that I find pleasure in talking with these people.

At the latest convention, I talked with a brother and sister (literal siblings, that is, not just fellow witnesses). Katie was the more outspoken of the two, so I asked her about the JW practice of concluding prayers to Jehovah with “in the name of Jesus.” “What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus?” I asked, “assuming that it’s more than just a correct formula for the end of a prayer.” It was a pleasure to see her enthusiastically presenting my argument for me, as she explained the deep, profound meaning behind the phrase. Then, imagine my delight as she mentioned Jesus’ role as mediator in his role as the channel of our prayers to Jehovah. A more sinister mind would say she fell right into my trap. Instead I see it as God’s Spirit at work, bringing her to a crisis in her belief-system that could bring her one step closer to freedom. I affirmed her recognition of Jesus’ mediatorial role, and conveyed my excitement of having Jesus as my mediator. Then I dropped the bomb. “What concerns me,” I said, “is that Watchtower teaches that Jesus is the mediator for only the 144,000.”

Now the real fun began. Her intent gaze changed to searching-for-an-answer glances up and to one side–you know the look, like when you’re called upon in class and you’re trying to remember the answer from last night’s homework. That body language is what gives me the most pleasure, because it indicates that I’ve gotten them to “jump the tracks,” wrestling with concepts that they haven’t ever considered before. I love those moments.

Then, much more to my delight, Katie began to verbalize her internal conflict, in one sentence affirming that Jesus could be the mediator for the Great Crowd, and in another affirming that he could not be our mediator, all the while aware that she was contradicting herself, but powerless to fix the problem. (I must add that Katie is no dummy; she’s highly intelligent, and speaks more languages than I do.) All I had to do was repeat back to her what she was saying, and allow her to argue with herself.

Why do I find this so pleasurable? Do I have a sick mind? Well, maybe, but not in this case. My pleasure comes from seeing God at work. He caused me to have a divine appointment with Katie and her brother. He is drawing her (and possibly him) to himself. He directed her thinking and our conversation. She’s wrestling with God like Jacob, and probably doesn’t even realize it. And the longer I can keep her wrestling, the better chance she has of finding true freedom. I want to keep her (and others) in this searching-for-answers state for as long as possible. And I want to avoid pushing them further to the looking-around, change-the-subject, glazed-over, shutting down look. You know the one–the look that says “I’m done talking with you, at least about that subject.” If that happens, I try to give them an out, perhaps by saying, “Well, it’s something to think about, isn’t it? Anyway, . . .” (and change the subject). And wipe that smug look off my face (and my heart), because I want to remain friends with them. I want them to be willing to talk with me again sometime. Because talking with them is so much fun!

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