Young People Ask . . .
How Can Christian Meetings Help Me?
“I don’t think the churches help you to advance spiritually. I mean, it’s up to the person whether he wants to be spiritual or not.”—19-year-old Kevin.
KEVIN is right in more ways than one. It really is up to each person to decide “whether he wants to be spiritual or not.” But since you are reading this article, it is more than likely that you at least want to be spiritual. You may not be exactly sure, though, just what a spiritual person is or how you can become one.
Simply put, a spiritual person is one who submits his thoughts, opinions, and actions to direction by the Most High God, Jehovah. He takes his Creator into consideration when making daily decisions, establishing goals, or setting priorities in life. In other words, a spiritual person is God-oriented.
As a teenager, you may find that “the anxiety of this system of things” hinders your spiritual growth. (Matthew 13:22) Having to associate all day long with schoolmates who may be ‘inclined to do bad all the time’ can also be discouraging. (Genesis 6:5) Some may even “scoff and speak about what is bad,” making it hard for you to focus your mind on what is good. (Psalm 73:8) And if your parents or other family members do not share your faith, they may provide little, if any, spiritual encouragement. What can you do to counteract these negative influences and grow spiritually?
One thing you can do is to attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly. Unlike church services, the meetings there both encourage you to pursue “godly devotion as your aim” and assist you in your development from spiritual babyhood to spiritual adulthood.—1 Timothy 4:7; Ephesians 4:13, 14.
Meetings That Help You Learn
In over 63,000 congregations throughout the earth, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the Bible’s admonition to “congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones . . . in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn.” (Deuteronomy 31:12) So you will find many young ones like yourself among the Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses all over the world share in the same educational program. This consists of five weekly meetings, each about an hour in length. The five meetings are:
Public Meeting—a Bible discourse highlighting a Bible theme.
Watchtower Study—an in-depth study of Bible teachings using the Watchtower magazine, the principal publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Theocratic Ministry School—teaches speaking skills for the Christian ministry.
Service Meeting—features discussions and demonstrations of effective teaching methods for the door-to-door and Bible study ministry.
Congregation Book Study—a question-and-answer discussion by smaller groups using a Bible study aid—usually in private homes.
“As Iron Sharpens Iron”
“It’s easy to be a Christian around others who also serve God,” says 15-year-old Michelle. “But when you go to school, it’s more difficult because your schoolmates have a different set of standards and goals.” One benefit of attending meetings, therefore, is the opportunity to associate with fellow believers.
Wise King Solomon said: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the wits of another.” (Proverbs 27:17, The New English Bible) At times, our spiritual “wits,” that is, our spiritual knowledge and insight, need to be honed. But just as sharpening a literal knife requires skill and the correct tools, so you need to associate with the right people, those who have the ability to “impart some spiritual gift to you.”—Romans 1:11.
At the Kingdom Hall, you will find such people, of different ages, races, and nationalities. Understandably, you may gravitate toward your peers. Pay particular attention, though, to those who have spent many years faithfully serving Jehovah. (Leviticus 19:32) Their experience in life along with their deep knowledge of the Bible can be of great assistance to you. How can you get to know such ones? Try asking them questions, such as, ‘How did you come into the truth?’ or, ‘What was field service like when you were young?’ They may very well produce some spiritual gifts for you!
True, when approaching others in the congregation, you may at first feel as did 12-year-old Craig, who says: “I used to be afraid of talking to older ones. I thought that if I said something wrong, I would get counseled.” Craig now knows that his feelings were unfounded. “I’m comfortable talking to them now,” he explains. Why not make a similar effort to associate with spiritually mature ones in the congregation? Doing so will give you a priceless opportunity to observe and imitate mature Christians.—2 Thessalonians 3:9.
A “Tongue of the Taught Ones”
Another area in which to make progress involves your teaching abilities. For example, are you able to communicate Bible truths clearly? Are you able to capture the attention of an audience? Do you know how to put real meaning into your reading? The prophet Isaiah said: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has given me the tongue of the taught ones.” (Isaiah 50:4) And with training, you too can have the tongue of the taught ones. One meeting in particular can benefit you in this regard: the Theocratic Ministry School. Have you joined that school yet?
The Theocratic Ministry School is designed to instruct Christians in speaking to others. It does not have an age limit, nor is baptism a requirement. You should be able to read and write, though, be actively associated with the congregation, and be living a life that is in harmony with Christian principles. How does this ministry school work?
After enrolling, you will be assigned to give a brief talk on a specific Scriptural theme. Work hard in preparing your talk. For example, additional information on your subject theme can usually be found by researching Bible publications with the use of the Watch Tower Publications Indexes and by considering the Bible encyclopedia Insight on the Scriptures.* If you need assistance in this regard, ask your parents or an experienced Christian to help you. The research you do will add much to your talk and can stimulate your spiritual growth.—Proverbs 2:1-5.
When you deliver a talk before the congregation, the qualified minister who conducts the school will be listening carefully. After your talk, he will offer appropriate encouragement and counsel based on information found in the Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook, a publication designed to aid public speakers. Listen closely to this counsel. It is not meant to criticize or embarrass you. The suggestions offered are to assist you. If you “continue applying yourself to public reading,” your spiritual progress will “be manifest to all persons.”—1 Timothy 4:13-15.
‘Praise Jehovah With Your Lips’
Another way to grow spiritually at Christian meetings is to volunteer answers or comments when audience participation is called for. Advance preparation is the key.* But perhaps you find it difficult to comment even when you have prepared for the meeting. In such cases, ask Jehovah for help. King David prayed: “O Jehovah, may you open these lips of mine, that my own mouth may tell forth your praise.”—Psalm 51:15.
Remember: An answer does not have to be long or involved to be upbuilding. As 12-year-old Rachel says: “Instead of giving a whole big talk, commenting may be just one sentence.” At first, speaking out at the meetings may seem hard, and you may ask for assistance, but in time, you will feel as Rachel did. She explains: “When you give a comment by yourself, it’s really yours, and you feel proud of it.” Furthermore, you will grow spiritually as a result of your efforts.
It is not easy to be spiritually minded in today’s self-centered world. But if you regularly attend meetings, prepare thoroughly, participate, and make an effort to associate with mature ones, Christian meetings will indeed help you to grow spiritually.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
For more information on how to prepare for and participate at meetings, see Awake!, June 22, 1988, pages 11-13.
[Pictures on page 21]
The Theocratic Ministry School has trained thousands of youths to be competent teachers of God’s Word