Going to the Watchtower Study

By the Editor

The Watchtower Study has changed a bit over the years.

The early Bible Students did not study the Watchtower magazine, but gathered in small groups to study the Bible and C.T. Russell’s six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. The “Watchtower Study,” in the general format we know it today, did not begin until the late 1930s. It became, and still is, the companion “meeting” to the public talk.

The usual format will have the public talk starting promptly and lasting about thirty minutes. Then comes the Watchtower Study. There is no official “break” between meetings, but the congregation spends ten to fifteen minutes standing and singing Kingdom songs and for bowing their heads for the opening prayer. It’s during this time that the audience gets to stand and stretch, maybe make a run to the restrooms, and get settled for the study meeting. The Watchtower Study lasts about an hour, but often runs over if needed to cover all the assigned paragraphs.

Until the 1970s, the Watchtower Study Conductor would ask the questions first, and then moderate as members of the audience would answer. Another brother would then read the paragraph. Many in attendance didn’t study or even read the articles beforehand, and weren’t ready to answer. Others would be reading ahead of the group trying to prepare an answer for an upcoming paragraph.

Since the 1970s, the reader presents the paragraph first, and then the conductor asks the audience the questions related to the text.

Since the 1980s, both the meetings and the articles have been getting shorter. Study articles only appear in the “private [study] version” of the Watchtower and many are only 15-20 paragraphs long.

Referenced scriptures in the text are rarely quoted. This allows the Watchtower writers to apply whatever meaning they want to those Bible verses. This raises a question: If the brothers and sisters actually looked up all of those scriptures and read them in context with the verses around them, how many would they find that were either irrelevant  – or even contradictory? The WT writers know they can take liberties with Bible quotes because the typical JW would not dare question anything presented by the “faithful and discreet slave.” To do so would be considered “questioning Jehovah’s organization on earth.”

The Watchtower also strongly discourages study conductors from adding their own commentary to the magazine text. A few years back they were counseled against “enhancing” the information, so now the meeting is pretty much along the lines of a “lather, rinse and repeat”  presentation of the Watchtower study article.

By de-emphasizing the public talk, the Society is making the point that the Watchtower Study is the real reason for JWs to attend the Sunday meeting. They’ve all heard the same basic material covered in the public talks, and few (if any)  of the public ever wander through the Kingdom Hall doors to listen to what amounts to a JW “sermonette.” The study edition of the Watchtower is designed for use by baptized Witnesses, their families, and unbaptized “interested persons,” at least those who seem to be progressing toward baptism.

Until a few years ago there was also a 15-minute break between the talk and the Watchtower Study. The Watchtower eliminated that welcome pause because so many JWs would sneak away between meetings. Likewise, many would also use the break to sneak in if they were late – or simply did not want to sit through another boring talk.

Brother K. Hall produced this great little video some time back that very clearly describes the reality of sitting through a Watchtower Study. Enjoy and feel free to comment. Those who have spent years going to these Kingdom Hall meetings will recognize most of the people portrayed in this humorous “documentary.”

Going to the Watchtower Study

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles about congregation meetings. This is also our second presentation of a video by “Brother K. Hall” a ‘born-in’ former JW who lives in Australia. He says his videos are about a child going to various meetings, “…with the idea that [they] would seem incredibly stupid, and yet be very realistic. [They don’t] contain any judgements, just depictions…” We’ll continue to present more of his videos as time and space allow. His current collection can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/KingdomHallOfJws.


Going to the Watchtower Study — 7 Comments

  1. Isn’t painful when the elders allow a brother to read that can barely do it!

    Then there’s the awkwardness when no one can seem to get the right answer to the question at the end of the paragraph even when it’s staring them right in the face – TOO FUNNY!

    Once a MS in our hall actually admitted that he like being a microphone handler just so he could look down the top of the well-endowed dresses of Sister Big-Boobs. … hahahaha …

    Keep up the good work!


    • Actually, what is painful is reading a sad and pathetic reply as yours, Daniel. THAT is Your experience, and your heart was not in a place to accept Jehovah’s teachings. So it’s best you no longer attend.

      The brothers are happy to be a part of the congregation AND contribute in any way they can. Sure it is nerve wracking to do anything BEFORE an audience. Sheesh, I’m a singer, and still get nervous. But after it’s over – I am elated over my willingness to be there.
      And Everyone looks up to the folks who contribute their time and energy. WE are A Family.
      One of the strongest Faiths out there. WE have a brighter future ahead – and you won’t be there. no doubt, you won’t be missed. 🙂
      We don’t need complainers anyway.

  2. I think the Watchtower was my most hated meeting.
    Especially if it happened to be at 1:30 in the afternoon on a sunny Sunday. Going to the midweek meeting after school was a pain but you were already tired and the day was over.
    I remember a kid from my school asking why I was his friend but never wanted to come over to his house. I just kept saying I was busy. I feel bad that I didn’t just tell him that my parents wouldn’t want me associating with non JW’s and that I have field service on Saturday and a meeting on Sunday. But then again, once your school friends dont bother with you any-more going to meetings doesnt worry you as much because you have no social life anyway. Nowhere else to be.
    God, all those wasted Sundays.
    thanks for the well written article again 🙂

    • You felt bad? I guess you didn’t get the message from Jesus…to keep yourself separate from the world? Sheesh, reading your experience is kinda pathetic…and still so childish. IF you haven’t figured it out by now, WHY all this happened – You are better off where you are now. I was a kid once too, came from a small congregation. Even left the congregation for a time…and I AM SO GLAD I’m back! After 50 years – I see how so much was a protection for my welfare. Sure I had to learn how to BE AN ADULT (obviously, you are still suffering as a kid) haha But, once I grew up and my mentality GOT the message – I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe you need therapy? 🙂

  3. Besides these meetings being so boring, I had to put up with all the pressure to comment on the meetings. I remeber how I would suffer on meeting days because I would be so stressed about having to put with people pressuring me comment. On top of that, another stressful situation was making sure I had the appropriate dress/skirt/blouse( one not too tight, not too revealing,not above the knees,no sleveeless blouses or dresses,ect.). One brother, in his public talk, told women that before coming to the meetings we should sit on a chair in front of a mirror, then lean forward in front of a mirror to pick up pencil to see if we would show more than we were supposed to. For example we would have to check if our skirt was revealing part of our tighs while sitting down, or if our bra/breasts would be revealed when leaning forward. This was said to be a measure of love toward our male brothers; so that we didn’t stumble them or made them loose concentration during the meetings. Another thing that bothered me a lot was that eveybody kept saying that the real reason for those not offering comments was because they would not prepare themselves at home(read the magazines in adavance and underline the answers on each paragraph… ect.).

  4. Obviously none of these people wanted to be a JW in the first place. No one MADE you do it. So IT is best you stop attending. WE don’t need you there, either. THIS is NOT a World Wide Conversion!!! HAHAHA

    IF you were a child – NO MATTER WHAT RELIGION you would have been in – no kid liked to go to church. EOS – end of story. It’s the age old complaint from so many kids (Grow UP)

    First of all – reading these experiences is NOT my Experience of going to meetings. Reading and learning from the Watchtower IS A TOOL to learning the Bible. It serves as a reading guide for the scriptures, depending on particular topics.

    ThIS is not some ritualistic Religion that follows traditional Exercises passed down from century to century – like the Catholic religion. Or something based on what ONE Man/Person teaches you in a church (ie, Methodist, Baptist, etc).

    I have never known one Brother who was uncomfortable with reading, or giving a Talk. The ones who do so, consider it a PRIVILEGE to share God’s Word.

    As far as School friends – and I am now 66 years old – Not one of those kids INFLUENCED my life. IN FACT, many that I have met over the past few years – Apologized for the immature treatment of me as a kid!!! They respect me, and my stand on my Faith. They also see that I have a Backbone when it comes to preaching. I do not shrink back in fear from others. Personally, there are times I feel extremely sad for those who have the future they now have. BUT, on the other hand – It’s NOT MY WAR – It’s God’s. Who YOU are rejecting is Jehovah, and the Ransom of His Son, Jesus. YOU WILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH THAT.
    Not my problem – I do what I feel necessary – to preach and find a listening Ear.

    No One Wants to Convert YOU! Get over it – and move on. Over 8,000,000 Witnesses have a much brighter hope than you do. Juliana in New Jersey

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