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Are Jehovah's Witnesses the only ones that Preach?

The word "preach" means to deliver a religious message publicly. Watchtower claims that only Jehovah's Witnesses fulfil Jesus command to preach about God's Kingdom from house-to-house. This article examines the three main concepts of such a claim; do other religions engage in preaching, what the message should be, and how should it be delivered.

The preaching work was instituted by Jesus as an important aspect of Christianity and Jehovah's Witnesses can be admired for the tremendous effort they devote to preaching. However, is their belief that they alone fulfil Jesus' command justified?

"Do you know of anyone else who preaches about God's Kingdom from house to house throughout the world?" Does God Care? (2001) p.30

To start with, all Christian religions preach in one form or another, otherwise they would not have any adherents. Whilst most do not preach house-to-house, Watchtower's insistence on preaching house-to-house is based on a mistranslation of Acts 20:20. Let's examine Watchtower's claim that only Jehovah's Witnesses do the preaching work as commissioned by Jesus by considering it's three assumptions:

  • Only Jehovah's Witnesses preach from "house to house"
  • Going "house to house" is a Christian requirement
  • Jehovah's Witnesses accurately discuss God's Kingdom

Who Preach

Are Jehovah's Witnesses the only group that preach? If that was the case, what accounts for Christianity being the largest religious tenet globally? Can the largely unknown message distributed by 8 million Witnesses really be thought of as having more relevance to Jesus prophecy than the spread of Christianity by Catholics that has resulted in over 1 billion members?

Jesus simply stated that the good news of the kingdom must be preached.

Mark 13:10 "Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first ..."
Matthew 24:14 "And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come."

Watchtower claims only Jehovah's Witnesses fulfil this command.

"An important way in which we show love for our fellowmen is by witnessing to them about God's Kingdom. Only one group of people is doing this work that Jesus foretold. (Mark 13:10) These are Jehovah's Witnesses." Watchtower 1994 Jun 1 p.18
"Around the world today, who are making known God's Word and who endeavor to live in harmony with it?" Awake! 1989 Mar 8 p.10

It is incorrect that only Jehovah's Witnesses preach. Following are examples of religions actively engaged in preaching.

Latter Day Saints and Seventh-day Adventists were founded during a similar period of time as Watchtower and two centuries later have similar numbers of members - due to their active preaching. Seventh-day Adventists successfully preach the good news, including at people's homes. See the following quote from the Seven Day Adventist Church Manual:

"Our highest responsibility is to the church and its commission to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all the world." Chapter 13

The Apostle Paul said that not every Christian would actively evangelize.

Ephesians 4:11-12 "And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ ..."

Christian groups that do not have a door to door ministry often contain well organized evangelical programs. For instance, Baptists are renowned for their preaching efforts and have the most missionaries of any religion. In 2004 there were 7 million Baptists outside of America, 600,000 baptisms and 21,000 new churches. In 2004 Witnesses baptised only 200,000 globally. Information on the significant efforts of Baptist missionaries can be viewed at internationalministries.org and namb.net.

The Jesus Film Project is an incredible success story. Jesusfilm.org (15th April 2006) explains;

"The JESUS Film Project distributes the film "JESUS," a two-hour docudrama about the life of Christ based on the Gospel of Luke. The film has been seen in every country of the world and translated into hundreds of languages since its initial release in 1979. Our goal is to reach every nation, tribe, people and tongue, helping them see and hear the story of Jesus in a language they can understand. So whether a person speaks Swahili, French, or a language whose name is extremely difficult for most to pronounce, he or she will encounter the life and message of Jesus in a language "of the heart."

Many mission experts have acclaimed the "JESUS" film as one of the greatest evangelistic success stories of all time. The ultimate success of this project won't be measured by how many people have already seen it, but by how many will follow Him after seeing this film.

Through use by The JESUS Film Project, and more than 1,500 Christian agencies, this powerful film has had more than 6 billion viewings worldwide since 1979. On top of that, the great majority of those heard the story of Jesus in a language they easily understand.

As a result, more than 201 million people have indicated decisions to accept Christ as their personal Savior and Lord."

Gideons.org (15th April 2006) discusses the preaching work of the Gideons;

"The Gideons International, founded in 1899, serves as an extended missionary arm of the church. The association has more than 250,000 members, located in 181 countries of the world. They are united in carrying out the same program using the same methods to accomplish the one objective of winning others to Christ. The emergence of more than 2,000,000 readers in the world each week creates an unprecedented need for reading material. Annually, The Gideons International is placing and distributing more than 63,000,000 Scriptures worldwide. To God be the glory!"

Pentecostalism is the world's fastest-growing Christian movement with over 150 million adherents, growing at an estimated 19 million members per year.

All religions preach in some form. Otherwise they would not have any members.

The reason that Christianity is the world's largest religion with billions of followers is centuries of preaching work by self sacrificing Christians globally. Many millions of missionaries devote their lives to the preaching work, and hundreds of millions informally discuss the good news. Great disservice is shown to these individuals whenever it is said that only Jehovah's Witnesses participate in the work Jesus described.

"'End Times' Religious Groups Want Apocalypse Soon"1 discusses the huge global preaching effort currently underway. It states that "40% of Americans believe that a sequence of events presaging the end times is already underway". The effectiveness of the Jehovah's Witnesses preaching work is noticeable from the absence of any mention of them in the article.

The greatest preaching work of all have been by the Catholic Church, who boast over 1 billion members, and whom numerous other Christian groups owe their existence to. This work continues to our day and catholicmission.org (23 July 2006) quotes Pope John Paul II as saying "I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes (to the nations.)" The site outlines the joy of joining in with spreading the message of Christ.

Where to Preach

I am constantly preached to by Christians. I have had Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, Christadelphians and people from the local Catholic Church come to my house. There have been Christians at different companies I have worked that discuss their beliefs with me. When I was at university there were Christian Campus groups, and when I was a tax accountant several of my clients were involved in missionary work. Christians have approached me in the street, or assemble as groups to sing and give public lectures in the local mall. On television, radio stations and the Internet there is no shortage of religious discussion.

"Since the last days began in 1914, Jehovah's Witnesses have preached the good news of God's Kingdom throughout the world in the manner ordered by Jesus, namely, at the homes of the people. (Matthew 10:7, 12; Acts 20:20) Millions of Witnesses call on people in every nation to talk to them about the new world. This has led to your receiving this brochure, as the work of Jehovah's Witnesses includes printing and distributing billions of pieces of literature about God's Kingdom. Do you know of anyone else who preaches about God's Kingdom from house to house throughout the world? And Mark 13:10 shows that this preaching and teaching work must be done "first," before the end comes." Does God Care? p.30

When the Watchtower claims they are the only group that preach, what is really meant is that Jehovah's Witnesses are the only people that preach the Watchtower interpretation of God's Kingdom, principally from "house to house".

"Do not be transferring from house to house." Luke 10:7

The Watchtower places great emphasis on the 'house to house' ministry, yet Mark 13:10 simply says "Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first." It does not dictate how this is to be done. Though the house to house work is an acceptable way to preach, it is never indicated scripturally as a sign of who God's followers would be. In fact, house to house is not even prescribed as the way to preach. A close look at the scriptures that the Watchtower uses to specify house to house preaching is enlightening.

Though the Watchtower makes constant reference to the 'house to house' work this is not how early Christians preached. In the New World Translation there are over 30 references to Jesus disciples preaching in the synagogues, marketplace and temple and only 3 that use the term 'house to house'. For example:

Mark 1:39 "And he did go, preaching in their synagogues throughout the whole of Gal´i·lee and expelling the demons."
Acts 9:19-20 "He got to be for some days with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately in the synagogues he began to preach Jesus, that this One is the Son of God."

The only time that the term "house to house" is used in regards to preaching to unbelievers was when Jesus sent out the 70 disciples. On this occasion Jesus stated "Do not be transferring from house to house."

Luke 10:1-7 "After these things the Lord designated seventy others and sent them forth by twos in advance of him into every city and place to which he himself was going to come. "Wherever YOU enter into a house say first, 'May this house have peace.' And if a friend of peace is there, YOUR peace will rest upon him. But if there is not, it will turn back to YOU. So stay in that house, eating and drinking the things they provide, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Do not be transferring from house to house. (Ek oikia eis oikia)""

The Watchtower quotes two other Scriptures from Acts to indicate a person should preach "house to house," yet neither of these scriptures leads to such a conclusion.

"The principal way in which that work would be done became evident immediately after the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. "Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus." (Acts 5:42) Some 20 years later, the apostle Paul was engaging in the house-to-house ministry, for he reminded Christian elders from the city of Ephesus: "I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house."-Acts 20:20." Watchtower 1991 Jan 15 p.11

The Greek used at Acts 5:42 and Acts 20:20 is not Ek oikia eis oikia, but rather Kata oikos. For this reason most Bible translations render this "in every house", "at home" or "in their homes". The New World Translation uses the phrase "house to house" at Acts 20:20, though the footnote acknowledges that the Greek word means "in private houses".

At Acts 20:17-20, Paul is not discussing preaching to unbelievers but rather teaching those who already were Christians. He says;

"However, from Mi·le´tus he sent to Eph´e·sus and called for the older men of the congregation. When they got to him he said to them: "YOU well know how from the first day that I stepped into the [district of] Asia I was with you the whole time, slaving for the Lord with the greatest lowliness of mind and tears and trials that befell me by the plots of the Jews; while I did not hold back from telling YOU any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching YOU publicly and from house to house."

A more accurate way to understand these scriptures in Acts is "we were teaching you at your homes" similar to the way Witnesses hold congregation book studies. Paul here relates his past activity in teaching "the older men of the congregation" privately within Christian homes. Early Christians did not have Churches but met in homes, and it is to this that Paul was referring.

Romans 16:5 "and [greet] the congregation that is in their house."
Colossians 4:15 "Give my greetings to the brothers at La·o·di·ce´a and to Nym´pha and to the congregation at her house."

In 1972, Watchtower acknowledged that Acts 20:20 does not apply to door to door preaching. Hence, Organization for Kingdom-Preaching and Disciple-Making page 56 footnote used the following quote from Doctor Robertson, showing that kai kat' oikous was used to indicate preaching to existing Christians such as Aquila and Priscilla.

"...and from house to house (kai kat' oikous). By (according to) houses. It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls. He was doing kingdom business all the while as in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor. 16:19)."

Only seven years later, in 1979, the Watchtower went back to using Acts 20:20 to indicate that Jehovah's Witnesses must preach door to door.

A further example of the New World Translation translating in a way to promote their preaching work is Romans 10:10 where it states "with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation". This scripture is then used to indicate that preaching is necessary for salvation. (w02 11/1 p. 11) The commonly used word in most translations is "confession". Though this NWT wording is not technically wrong, this greatly changes the intended meaning that at baptism" confession is made unto salvation" (KJV) (At w88 1/1 p. 22 the Watchtower acknowledges that Romans is related to baptism)

Guidance on how to preach was given by Jesus at Matthew 10:5-12:

"These twelve Jesus sent forth, giving them these orders: "Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Sa·mar'i·tan city; but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As YOU go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.' Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. YOU received free, give free. Do not procure gold or silver or copper for YOUR girdle purses, or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food. "Into whatever city or village YOU enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until YOU leave. 12 When YOU are entering into the house, greet the household;"

Though Matthew 10 is used by the Watchtower as a key reference in promoting the door to door ministry the text is disregarded by Witnesses in its entirety. The Watchtower message focuses largely on the earthly organization and earthly paradise rather than the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. Miracles such as raising the dead, faith healing and exorcism are not practiced. Rather than giving free, donations are requested to cover the cost of the literature and prior to the change of tax status the money raised for selling literature is what developed the Watchtower Society into a billion dollar business. Finally, the disciples did not go house to house, they searched out a single house to stay.

What to Preach

During a public talk at my hall, the speaker asked the rhetorical question, "Who else follows Jesus command at Matthew 24:14"? A newly interested study piped up, "Mormons." The audience appeared shocked, as the question was not demanding an answer and the answer given was not acceptable; Jehovah's Witnesses think they are the only ones preaching the good news of the kingdom. The speaker responded by saying that whilst Mormons may preach house to house, they do not preach the good news of the kingdom.

Watchtower justifies their claim of being alone in fulfilling Jesus’ message with the proviso they alone "accurately" teach “the good news of the Kingdom.”

“Jesus preached “the good news of the Kingdom,” and he expects his disciples to do the same. What group of people are preaching that message in “all the nations”? The answer is obvious​—only Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Watchtower Study Edition 2016 May p.9

The Bible shows that the "good news" is regarding Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:1-3 "Now I make known to YOU, brothers, the good news which I declared to YOU, which YOU also received, in which YOU also stand, through which YOU are also being saved, with the speech with which I declared the good news to YOU, if YOU are holding it fast, unless, in fact, YOU became believers to no purpose. For I handed on to YOU, among the first things, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;"
Galatians 1:7-8 " the good news about the Christ. However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to YOU as good news something beyond what we declared to YOU as good news, let him be accursed."
Acts 28:31 "preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatestfreeness of speech, without hindrance."
Matthew 10:7 "As YOU go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.'

Christians were not described as Witnesses of Jehovah, but rather Witnesses of Jesus, something that Jehovah's Witnesses are not renowned for.

Acts 1:8 " but YOU will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon YOU, and YOU will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Ju·de´a and Sa·mar´i·a and to the most distant part of the earth."

Jehovah's Witnesses spend far less time discussing Jesus and his heavenly kingdom than most Christian religions. Acts shows how intertwined the good news was with the message of the Christ. Powerful works were displayed, the Holy Spirit received, and baptism was in Jesus name, not to an organization - (see Baptism).

Acts 8:4-17 "However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word. Philip, for one, went down to the city of Sa·mar´i·a and began to preach the Christ to them But when they believed Philip, who was declaring the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ, they proceeded to be baptized, both men and women. Simon himself also became a believer, and, after being baptized, he was in constant attendance upon Philip; and he was amazed at beholding signs and great powerful works taking place. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Sa·mar´i·a had accepted the word of God, they dispatched Peter and John to them; and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they went laying their hands upon them, and they began to receive holy spirit."

Jesus said everlasting life comes from following him, not from scouring Scripture in doctrinal debates.

"YOU are searching the Scriptures, because YOU think that by means of them YOU will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me. And yet YOU do not want to come to me that YOU may have life." John 5:39,40:

The good news Jehovah's Witnesses carry to the doors is not about Jesus and the heavenly kingdom, it is predominantly about Jehovah, the Watchtower Organization and a future earthly paradise.

Can Watchtower's message be regarded "good news" when it is about the destruction of 8 billion people at Armageddon?

Watchtower describes its message as "life-saving."

"Many in our territory turn us away, not realizing the life-saving value of our message." Our Kingdom Ministry Mar 2014 p.1

From whom are Jehovah's Witnesses saving people? From their God Jehovah! Whilst the Christian message is that Jesus saves people from the consequences of sin, the Watchtower message is that joining their organization saves people from destruction at Armageddon, orchestrated by Jehovah, at the hands of Jesus and his heavenly army.


Is the "Good News" Known?

Few people know what Jehovah's Witnesses believe. Ask a person what the Watchtower teaches and virtually no one will know the "Good News of the Kingdom" that Jehovah's Witnesses expect to live forever on earth. Witnesses are known predominantly for distributing books. In fact, the media has been more successful in education regarding Jehovah's Witnesses, since they are better known as letting children die refusing a blood transfusion, and for shielding pedophilies.

That is in Western Countries. The fact is that most people in the world have never met a Jehovah's Witnesses and know nothing about them at all. It is an ignorant concept that Jehovah will choose to grant salvation based on how people respond to "the kingdom message," when billions have never met a Witness or know what the Watchtower message is.

Preaching from 'house to house' is not an indicator of the true religion. The majority of preaching described in the Bible was done where people were, such as synagogues and in markets. If Witnesses were really interested in bringing people to Jehovah they would spend less time door knocking on empty doors or doing return visits five to a car mid week afternoons when most people are not at home.

There are 3 billion Christians globally. Many new Christian religions are growing rapidly. How? All religions proselytise and many religions have active missionary programs. Most religions preach about the kingdom of God, the message of the Bible and about Jesus. They do what Matthew 28:19 say:

"… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit,. . ."

The preaching work conducted by Jehovah's Witnesses is highly ineffective. In 2019, over 2 billion hours of preaching resulted in only 303,866 baptisms, almost 7,000 hours of preaching for a single baptism. Considering at least half of people baptised are children born into the religion, it is likely at least 15,000 hours of preaching is required to convert a single person.

Watchtower is proud of the billions of books and magazines it has printed.

"JEHOVAH’S MODERN-DAY SERVANTS Distribute billions of copies of Bible literature in hundreds of languages" Pure Worship of Jehovah - Restored at Last! (2018) p.195

Yet ask a random person what the Kingdom message of Jehovah's Witnesses is - or ask 100 - and it is unlikely any will know. The statistics sound impressive but the results are not.

The 2011 Publisher report lists countries where Witnesses are banned under the category "30 Other Lands". Highlighted in red, these make up 16% of the earth's land surface, and account for 1.9 billion people, or 27% of the earth's population. Despite this, last year saw a peak of only 26,272 publishers across these countries combined, which is less than 1 in every 72,000 people.

Courtesy of www.jwsurvey.org

Other religious groups grow because members preach casually to friends at work, universities and anywhere else they may be found. They do not get hung up on where to preach and whether the hours can be put on a monthly report. Though Jehovah's Witnesses report a billion hours a year preaching, it is predominantly spent knocking on the doors of empty houses. If a person is interested in helping people and not just in reporting hours, there are far more effective ways to preach.

When I pioneered in the Pacific Islands most houses I called on usually had someone at home. However this is not the situation in developed countries. In modern society the majority of houses are empty at the times Witnesses call, with both husband and wife working throughout the week and entertaining or playing sport on the weekend. I remember witnessing week in, week out and only meeting one or two people in a whole morning. Five of us would cram into a car for return visits during week day afternoons and be lucky if each pioneer found even one person at home.

Why Jehovah's Witnesses Preach?

Watchtower 2018 May p.19 discusses "four Scriptural reasons for preaching." These are:

  • We glorify Jehovah
  • We love Jehovah and his Jesus
  • We warn people
  • We love our neighbors

The point that stands out is to "warn people." This is the preominant reason for attempting to preach to every single person by systematically going to every house in a city. This relates to the notion that every single human on earth will die at Armageddon if they do not follow Jehovah. The flood of Noah is used to support preaching as essential during a judgment period, with the claim Noah was commissioned to preach.

"Before he brought the great Deluge, though, Jehovah gave people an opportunity to repent. He commissioned Noah to preach, and Noah obeyed-serving as "a preacher of righteousness" prehaps for 40 or 50 years or more. (2 Peter 2:5)" Watchtower 2000 Jan 15 p.9

The Genesis account never mentions Noah preaching, and the above quote is baseless speculation. More shameful is that Watchtower has deceptively mistranslated Matthew 24:39 in an attempt to support that Noah warned people of the flood. Instead of accurately translating this passage as "they knew not until the flood came," New World Translation says "they took no note." Whilst Matthew 24:39 says people were unaware the flood was coming, the New World Translation phrasing deceptively indicates Noah provided a warning of the flood, which people ignored. Compare the New World Translation with other translations and the original text.

  • New World Translation "they took no note until the Flood came"
  • King James Version - "and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away"
  • American Standard Version - "and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away"
  • Byington - "and before they knew it the flood came and carried off one and all"
  • Christian Standard Bible - "They didn't know until the flood came and swept them all away"
  • English Standard Version - "they were unaware until the flood came"
  • Strong's Concordance - "g1097 ginosko knew 63756 ou not 62193 heos until g2627 kataklysmos deluge 62064 erchomai came

Watchtower is fully aware the New World Translation is incorrect, since Watchtower's own Kingdom Interlinear uses "not they knew."

Kingdom Interlinear

They are therefore knowingly deceitful in using this Scripture to indicate Noah preached a warning about the flood.

The only time that Noah is referred to as a preacher is when 2 Peter 2:5 calls him a "preacher of righteousness." Noah was a preacher by way of his righteous conduct. As Hebrews 11:7 puts it, Noah's "faith condemned the world." Since Matthew 24:39 says people were unaware of the deluge, Noah did not literally preach door-to-door trying to make converts, and the small size of the ark shows Noah had no expectation of many additional human passengers.

Public Preaching

Jesus spent most of his time preaching in the streets, the synagogues, the markets; anywhere that people were and rarely if ever house to house. Did the apostle Paul enter a town and go door to door? Never is that recorded. Rather he always headed straight to where the most people would be. If Jesus were alive today do you think he would have spread his urgent message by trudging door to door when he knew no one was going to be there?

Whilst the majority of preaching by Jehovah's Witnesses was traditionally done house-to-house, there are other forms of preaching such as Street Witnessing. The Body of Elders Letter 2012 Nov 24 provides a detailed outline of public witnessing, particularly around setting up "tables and mobile literature displays", and makes the following comment:

"While public witnessing should never overshadow the house-to-house work, it has proved to be an increasingly effective means to reach many with the good news of the Kingdom."

The introduction of cart witnessing in public places seemed to be a step in the right direction, not the carts filled with Watchtower literature, but the concept of preaching in the streets. The execution has been otherwise. Jehovah's Witnesses stand idly by the carts, or hidden from view. Rarely do they engage with people, in fact they are instructed not to approach people that pass by. The rapidly diminishing conversion rates attest to the pointlessness of this passive endeavour.

This apathetic approach to preaching has led to a fall in Bible Studies, and is even less effective that door to door proselytising.

Announcements and Reminders 2024 2024-04-S-147_E

Though public witnessing more closely mimics the manner in which Christians preached in the Bible, the idea of setting up stands to distribute literature is not as done by early Christians and shows the Watchtower still presents itself as a publishing company.

Watchtower's public preaching efforts is eerily similar to other coercive groups, such as Scientologists and Mormons, who were using displays in malls, buses and tv prior to Jehovah's Witnesses.

Display Stands


Online Television

Likewise, the Watchtower online TV station, tv.jw.org, launched in November 2014 is copy of what Mormons have been doing with TV for years, such as The 700 Club.

Letter Writing

A more obscure form of preaching is letter writing. This has always been an option, particularly for incapacitated Jehovah's Witnesses unable to leave their house.

During Covid-19 isolation restrictions, sending letters and emails became the fall back option for all Jehovah's Witnesses, and more guidance was provided around this form of preaching.

Announcements and Reminders Sep 2020 (S-147-20.09-E)

The following is the header of the sample template.

This was followed in October 2020 with the Letter Writing Templates Manual, containing 90 pages of templates covering the topics shown in the following Table of Contents screenshot.

October 2020 Letter Writing Templates Manual Table of Contents

The following example was received by a friend.

You have to wonder what sort of person would respond to an unsolicited, hand written flier that sounds like it came from the extreme right-wing, discussing "a "One world government" that will soon replace all governments"?

The following screenshot from the subreddit "mildlyinfuriating" shows the typical response to these letters, describing the religion as whacky and the use of children as infuriating.

Legislative Procedure

The Watchtower goes well beyond the Bible in the legislative procedure surrounding the preaching work. There are a series of requirements and paperwork a Witness is required to comply with. Jesus and Christian Bible writers provided no outline regarding such micro-management. Following is an outline of some of the procedure required by the Watchtower. Due to tightened privacy related laws, some of these forms have been phased out in different countries.

Field Service Report Card

The number of Jehovah's Witnesses, as published on the annual Publisher Report, is determined by the number of people that have submitted a field service report. Each month, Jehovah's Witnesses must submit a Field Service Report card, indicating they went preaching that month. A publisher that misses a month is termed irregular, and missing 6 months in a row deems a person inactive. To be officially regarded as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, you must be an active publisher.

Until October 2023, the report card included the number of hours spent preaching, along with additional information such as publications distributed. To qualify as a Ministerial Servant or Elder, it was generally expected that the person report at least the congregation average, around ten hours preaching per month.

At the 2023 Annual meeting, it was announced that it was no longer necessary to report the number of hours spent preaching, rather the field service report would simply have a check box.

"On October 7, 2023, at the annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the following exciting announcement was made. Beginning November 1, 2023, congregation publishers will no longer be asked to report the amount of time they spend in the ministry. Nor will publishers be asked to report their placements, the videos they show, or return visits. Instead, the field service report will simply have a box that allows each publisher to indicate that he or she shared in any form of the ministry during the month. There will be one more box where publishers can report the number of different Bible studies they conduct." October 2023 jw.org breaking news

For decades, Jehovah's Witnesses were told it was a requirement from Jehovah to report the number of hours preached.

"The Lord breaks down our organization instructions further and makes them more practicable by further instructing us through his "faithful and wise servant". He says, ’Let us assign the field, the world, to special pioneers, regular pioneers and companies of Jehovah’s witnesses in an orderly way, sufficient for everyone to thoroughly witness therein, and let us place upon each one the responsibility of caring for the New World interests in these respective assignments.’ He says the requirements for special pioneers shall be 175 hours and 50 back-calls per month, which should develop into a reasonable number of studies; and for regular prancers 150 hours and as many back-calls and studies as can be properly developed during that time.

... It is just as foolish for a publisher to conclude that he can serve the Lord properly without a personal assignment as it would be for a company to decide that it could function acceptably to the Lord without a territory assignment. A company is required to have an assignment and to systematically work in it from house to house, make back-calls, conduct book studies, and generally aid the people of good-will. They are to carry on all the forms of magazine work in that assignment." Watchtower 1943 Jul 1 p.205
"But we have been asked to report our activity in the ministry. So, what attitude should we have toward this arrangement? The report we submit each month is connected with our godly devotion. (2 Pet. 1:7) Of course, none of us should feel pressured to devote many hours to the ministry just to be able to turn in a larger report of our share in the field service. That is precisely why a Kingdom publisher who is in a nursing home or who is somehow incapacitated may report field service in 15-minute increments rather than full hours. Jehovah Jehovah appreciates those minutes..." Watchtower 2014 Nov 15 p16

There was never any Scriptural backing for reporting hours spent preaching, which is why, despite being promoted as one of Jehovah's requirements, it could be removed without explanation.

House-to-house Record

A house-to-house record card is used to keep track of houses where no one answers, a "not home", so that they can be revisited until someone answers. The form can also be used for recorded interested people, so as to keep track of "return visits". The level of detail, such as whether a child was home alone, or dates when people are not home, may shock many "householders" and considered an invasion of privacy.

Territory Map Card

Witnesses systematically work each block in the territory that their congregation covers. This is managed by use of territory maps. On the back of the map is a list of people that have requested Jehovah's Witnesses do not call. The following from Watchtower 2013 Jan 15 page 21 shows an elder holding a territory map, along with a scanned example.

Study Report

For many decades, each person studying with one of Jehovah's Witnesses was recorded on a "study report" slip, which was handed to the congregational elders on a monthly basis.

This requirement was done away with in the mid 2000's, to comply with European Union privacy regulations.

Pioneer Application

There are several levels that a publisher can aspire to, such as an auxiliary pioneer, regular pioneer, special pioneer or missionary. These carry ever increasing requirements for minimum hours of preaching per month or year. Classed as privileges, a publisher must fill in an application form, confirm their moral worthiness, and confess their belief that "spiritual food from Jehovah is being provided through the "faithful and discreet slave" class and that this "slave" class is using the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society as its legal agency".

Metropolitan Public Witnessing Application

In 2012, an application form became required for Jehovah's witnesses wanting to become involved in preaching with Watchtower carts. This includes a series of questions to be answered by the applicant about any wrongdoing they may have been involved in, and a section for the elders to rate the applicant.

Please Follow Up Form

For many decades, Jehovah's Witnesses have used the Please Follow Up form when meeting people that speak a foreign language or are deaf. These detailed records of foreign speaking residents in each city were so that they could be reached by Jehovah's Witnesses that speak their language.

General Data Protection Regulation

In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation become enforceable 25 May 2018, protecting individual's privacy. This affects the legality of Jehovah's Witnesses and the vast amount of personal data they have been mandated to collect when preaching. On 13 May 2019 a letter was sent "TO ALL CONGREGATIONS IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND Re: General Data Protection Regulation" that stated:

"Over the years, you may have become accustomed to collecting personal data in connection with your ministry. However, recent court decisions and the enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affect the collection and use of personal data in our branch territory. ... Accordlingly, publishers should not collect personal data in connection with the field ministry. This means not maintaining records that include a person's name, address, language, ethnicity, and so forth. It also includes not recording addresses where no one is at home."

After years of forcefully insisting all Jehovah's Witnesses comply with its' preaching requirements as instruction from Jehovah, it is interesting to observe Watchtower immediately back down at the threat of legal ramification. The lifesaving necessity to fastidiously reach each individual with the good news took a back seat to financial interests.


The Watchtower claims their preaching method is the most effective, because it was instigated by Jesus.

    "What is the most effective way to spread the Kingdom message? Jesus, who knew how to reach as many as possible, sent his disciples to cities, villages, and homes of the people." Watchtower 2012 Jun 1 p.15

The Bible shows the most effective preaching in the first century was at the temple, at the city gates, in the markets, and wherever large groups gathered. It was not systematic transferring from house-to-house as done by Witnesses. Even if a house-to-house method had been effective 2,000 years ago, when villages were small and extended families lived in a single house, it does not make it effective today. In 30 A.D. there were no printing presses, cars, radio, television, aeroplanes, computers or the internet. The Watchtower has not been successful in utilising the most effective methods in modern times, as born out by over 5,000 hours of preaching required for a single convert.

It is also incorrect to say that Jehovah's Witnesses have preached to the entire inhabited earth. Based on 2005 figures, around half the world, 3 billion people, have never seen a Watchtower. Between China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia there are almost 3,000,000,000 inhabitants and less than 50,000 Jehovah's Witnesses. Everyday on average over 200,000 people are born, but the number of active Jehovah's Witnesses increases by only 224. This means that each day Armageddon is delayed there is an extra 200,000 people that Jehovah will be required to destroy who have never heard of him. If the end is contingent on Jehovah's Witnesses preaching to "all the inhabited earth", then that time is far off.

Ponder on the statistics from the 2005 service year.

  • 1032 Witnesses out of 145 million people in Pakistan
  • A few thousand witnesses out of over 1.3 billion people in China.
  • 25,000 to 1,000,000,000 Indians.
  • 18,000 to 219,000,000 Indonesians

Has the Watchtower Society come close to completing their preaching work?

Put simply, the Watchtower witnessing work amounts to be sales representatives for an organisation. The message is not, "Come to Christ", or even "Come to Jehovah", but "Become a member of our organisation." In the Watchtower message, there is no prospect of a relationship with God or for salvation without joining that specific group. If growing an organisation is the aim of preaching, then all religions must have been engaged in a preaching work of some kind, as they all have a body of members.

The message of Jesus and the good news of his heavenly Kingdom has been, and continues to be, preached throughout the world by Christianity. Jesus did not limit how this was to be done. The method of house-to-house was not prescribed by Jesus, nor is it the most effective way to preach. Distribution of brochures and submitting monthly reports is never indicated in Scripture as a requirement to be considered in good standing before God. Once this is understood, it is clear that many religions fulfil Christ's command to preach, and the Watchtower goes beyond the Scriptures in the plethora of regulation around the preaching work.


From the EmailBag - Mark Evanier, famous comic book writer, provides a tremendous response, explaining why it is offensive for people to sell religion door to door. (12th Mar 2015) Click for PDF


1 latimes.com (23rd June 2006)

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Originally published June 2005, latest update April 2024.

creative commons copyright    Paul Grundy  2005 - 2024