I’m getting this out a day late because it was a busy week. Since today is Saturday, it made me think about how my Saturday mornings were for the majority of my life. In the years since I’ve been out of the Jehovah’s Witness religion, I’ve been enjoying my freedom. No meetings, no studying, no assemblies, and most of all, NO FIELD SERVICE!
So What Exactly Is It?
In a nutshell, it’s looking for new members. Obviously most people don’t come to their local Kingdom Hall looking for someone to study with them, though I’m sure the Watchtower Society will say that it’s happened before. Believe it or not, this activity, called the ‘preaching work’, goes back to the early Christians. JWs are taught that in Jesus’ day, his disciples went door to door in pairs talking spreading the good news. So that is why they must do it. Jesus and his disciples set the example. His followers were commanded to preach, and that was the most important thing any JW could do.
The preaching work has several different names within the JW world.
- Field service
- Out in service
- Preaching work
- Field ministry
- Out in the field
- Door to door
No matter what you call it, you’re doing the same thing: offering some literature and in time, a Bible study. In some cases a Bible study might be offered right away. A Bible study is a week-by-week study course that consists of a JW Bible (The New World Translation) and the latest book they’re using for Bible studies. The student normally would pick a time that’s convenient for them, and the JW will meet with them at that same time each week and go over a chapter in the book. A good student will prepare ahead of time, reading and highlighting the answers. Even looking up scriptures. The topics they study are about the teachings and beliefs of Witnesses. It’s all presented in a way that makes it sound appealing and sensible. Nothing too crazy is mentioned, at least not at first. By the time it does come up, the student is already so hooked that they don’t see how illogical JW reasoning can be.
Once the student progresses through the book, has gone to some meetings, and is showing signs of great improvement from where they started, they will get baptized. I’ve never conducted a lengthy Bible study or had a student get baptized, but I imagine it must feel very rewarding. This is the ultimate goal of the field ministry, to bring someone into the Truth. (I will explain ‘The Truth’ in a later post).
Saturday is the most popular day for field service, and door to door is the most common type. There are other kinds though: letter writing, phone witnessing, informal witnessing, street witnessing, parking lot witnessing, and serving where the need is great. There’s a new type of witnessing that started after I left, so I’m not sure what its proper name is. But I’ve seen pairs of JWs with a literature cart standing in various areas, waiting for someone to approach them and ask questions about the publications they have displayed. Not sure how I would have felt engaging in this type of witnessing, if I would have liked it or not. I’ll never know. But I’m sure this type starts the same as any other field service day, and that’s with a meeting.
Before You See Them
Before the JW’s end up on your street, they’ve already had it all planned out. You meet at either the Kingdom Hall or at someone’s house. An elder will lead the group in a brief meeting where they will review the articles and/or publications being placed for the week or month. People will raise their hand to discuss what they plan on offering, and presentations will be suggested. After that, the elder will put together the car groups. Sometimes, people will have made arrangements to ‘work together’ (walk from door to door together) earlier in the week. If so, they will be put with either another pair (married couple, parent & child) or with two other people who have no arrangements. 3-4 people make a car group. Once everyone has been assigned to a group, now they have to be told where to go. Some people already have what’s called Territory. Those are little cards with a tiny map of a neighborhood on it. Someone from each car group will have one of these cards. All the groups load up in each other’s cars and carpool to one of the streets on it. Once there, those who aren’t already paired up will decide who will work with who and then they get started walking down the street.
You knock on a door and if you’re like me, hope nobody answers. If not, great. Just write down their house number. This is your list of not-at-homes. You will most likely have picked up a special little sheet of paper at the KH that is used just for this purpose. In the unlikely and unfortunate even that someone does open the door, take a deep breath and start your presentation! Give a brief introduction of yourself and the person with you, say how you were in their neighborhood this morning (ha!) and wanted to stop by to share something with them if they have a moment. (Pull out your magazines while saying this.) Show them the cover of the Watchtower or Awake or book that you’re offering and briefly explain what it’s about. Try your best to make it sound interesting and exciting! If you’re feeling especially bold, read a scripture that you’ve already bookmarked in your Bible. Hand them the magazines, hope that they will reach out and take them, then state that maybe you’ll return at another time to see if they had any questions. If you’ve made it this far, you’re doing better than most! Some get turned away the moment they open their mouths…it’s happened to me too many times to count. If they are even mildly interested, get out your pad and write their name down. Tell them you’ll be back in a week or two. Say goodbye and that’s it, you’re done! For now. As you walk to the next house, you and your partner will have some small talk. They’re probably telling you how good you did and stuff like that. Their turn will be at the next door, where they will repeat what you just did.
This post was a little longer than usual, I think. For that, I apologize. Then again, wouldn’t the most important job of a Jehovah’s Witness deserve the longest blog post? Haha. You tell me. I would like to hear your thoughts on this and my other blog posts. If you have anything you want explained or would like to know about, just ask me about it and I will do my best to answer it. I thank you for your support of my blog.