AS A vigorous proclaimer of the good news, Jesus set an example for his followers. He took the initiative to go out among the people, speaking and teaching in their homes and in public places. (Matt. 9:35; 13:36; Luke 8:1) Jesus spoke with individuals, taught his disciples privately, and addressed groups numbering into the thousands. (Mark 4:10-13; 6:35-44; John 3:2-21) He took advantage of every appropriate occasion to speak words of encouragement and hope. (Luke 4:16-19) Even when he was in need of rest and refreshment, he did not pass up opportunities to witness. (Mark 6:30-34; John 4:4-34) When we read the inspired accounts of Jesus’ ministry, are we not moved to imitate him? Certainly we are, just as the apostles were.—Matt. 4:19, 20; Luke 5:27, 28; John 1:43-45.
2 Consider the opportunities that are open to Christians today to share in the work initiated by Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago.
PREACHING FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE
3 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we recognize the value of preaching the good news of the Kingdom systematically from house to house. We have used this method so extensively that it has become our trademark. The wisdom of using this method to reach millions of people in a short period of time has been confirmed by gratifying results. (Matt. 11:19; 24:14) The house-to-house ministry has proved to be a practical way for us to demonstrate love for Jehovah and for our neighbor.—Matt. 22:34-40.
4 House-to-house preaching is not a modern innovation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The apostle Paul refers to his teaching in the homes of people. Describing his ministry to the overseers in Ephesus, he said: “From the first day I stepped into the province of Asia, . . . I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you . . . from house to house.” In this and other ways, Paul “thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:18, 20, 21) At that time, Roman emperors encouraged idolatry, and many were “given to the fear of the deities.” It was urgent that people seek “the God who made the world and all the things in it,” the One who was then “declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent.”—Acts 17:22-31.
5 Today, the need to reach people with the good news is even more urgent. The end of this wicked system of things is rapidly approaching. Seeing this need, we are moved to increase our efforts. No better way has been found than the time-tested method of searching from house to house for those who are hungering for the truth. It is as effective today as it was in the days of Jesus and the apostles.—Mark 13:10.
6 Are you able to have a full share in the house-to-house ministry? If so, you can be sure that Jehovah is pleased with you. (Ezek. 9:11; Acts 20:35) The house-to-house ministry may not be easy for you. You may have physical limitations, or you may be preaching in a territory where many people are not inclined to listen. There may even be governmental restrictions. Perhaps you are shy, and you find it very difficult to initiate conversations with strangers. Therefore, each time you engage in the house-to-house ministry, you experience a measure of anxiety. Do not be discouraged. (Ex. 4:10-12) Your circumstances are not unlike those of your brothers in many other places.
7 Jesus promised his disciples: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 28:20) That promise fortifies us in the disciple-making work. We feel like the apostle Paul, who said: “For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power.” (Phil. 4:13) Take full advantage of congregation arrangements for engaging in the house-to-house witnessing. By working with others, you will receive encouragement and personal assistance. Pray for help to overcome whatever obstacles you may face, and exert yourself vigorously as a preacher of the good news.—1 John 5:14.
8 As you speak to others about the good news, you will have opportunities to give them “a reason for the hope you have.” (1 Pet. 3:15) You will become more and more aware of the contrast between those who have the Kingdom hope and those who are without hope. (Isa. 65:13, 14) You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have been obedient to Jesus’ command to “let your light shine,” and you may even be privileged to help others come to know Jehovah and the truth that leads to everlasting life.—Matt. 5:16; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 4:16.
9 Arrangements are made for house-to-house activity on weekends as well as during the week. In areas where it is difficult to find people at home during the day, some congregations arrange for evening witnessing. People may be more inclined to receive visitors in the late afternoon or early evening hours than in the morning.
SEARCHING OUT DESERVING ONES
10 Jesus instructed his disciples to “search out” deserving ones. (Matt. 10:11) His search for those favorably disposed was not limited to the house-to-house ministry. Indeed, he gave a witness on every appropriate occasion, both formal and informal. (Luke 8:1; John 4:7-15) The apostles also witnessed to people at a variety of locations.—Acts 17:17; 28:16, 23, 30, 31.
Our objective is to reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message
11 Likewise today, our objective is to reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message. This means imitating Jesus and his apostles in their approach to the disciple-making work as well as keeping abreast of the changing times and the varying circumstances of the people in our territory. (1 Cor. 7:31) Therefore, we also engage in public witnessing within our congregation territory. (Acts 20:20) Publishers have been successful in calling on people at places of business. Street witnessing has proved effective in many countries, as has witnessing in parks, parking lots, or wherever people can be found. Some congregations have set up tables or mobile displays within their territory. In addition, the branch office may organize special metropolitan public witnessing in high pedestrian traffic areas of a city, using participants from several congregations. As a result, individuals who are not at home when publishers call may be contacted elsewhere with the good news.
12 Presenting The Watchtower and Awake! is an effective way to do public witnessing. We can approach people in a kind and tactful manner and share with them a timely subject discussed in one of the magazines. Or we can offer other literature. We can then arrange to call on them at their homes. You may find witnessing to people in public places an enjoyable way to expand your ministry.
13 However, proclaiming the good news is not all that is involved in the work assigned to Christians today. If you are to succeed in helping others embrace the truth that leads to life, you will want to make repeated calls on interested ones so that they can progress toward becoming mature Christians.
MAKING RETURN VISITS
14 Jesus said to his followers: “You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) But he also told them: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Making return visits can be a source of joy in Jehovah’s service. People who expressed interest in the good news when you first called on them will likely be happy to see you again. By sharing additional Bible information with them, you may be able to strengthen their faith in God and help them to become aware of their spiritual need. (Matt. 5:3) If you prepare well and arrange to make the return visit at a time convenient for them, you may be able to start a home Bible study. Doing so will usually be your objective in making return visits. We not only plant the seed of truth but also water it.—1 Cor. 3:6.
15 Making return visits may be a challenge for some. Perhaps you have become quite proficient in making a brief presentation of the good news, and you enjoy that particular feature of the ministry. But when you think of returning to engage the householder in a discussion of the Bible, the challenge may seem overwhelming. You need not feel that way. Very likely, you placed some Bible literature with the interested person on the first call. Why not discuss something contained in that publication? You can prepare for this ahead of time. If you do not feel comfortable, arrange to have a more experienced publisher accompany you.
CONDUCTING HOME BIBLE STUDIES
16 When speaking to a Jewish proselyte who was reading God’s Word, the evangelizer Philip asked him: “Do you actually know what you are reading?” The man responded: “Really, how could I ever do so unless someone guided me?” The Bible account in Acts chapter 8 then tells us that starting with the passage of Scripture that the man had been reading, Philip “declared to him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:26-36) We do not know how much time Philip spent with the man, but Philip explained the good news to the point that the man became a believer and asked to get baptized. He became a disciple of Jesus Christ.
17 Many today are not familiar with the Bible, so it may require a number of return visits and a detailed study over a period of weeks, months, or even a year or more before they are able to build faith and qualify for baptism. But your patient and loving assistance in helping honesthearted ones become disciples has its own reward, even as Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
18 You will no doubt want to conduct a home Bible study using one of the publications that is especially designed for that purpose. By following the example of the one who studied with you, you will be able to conduct productive studies, helping others to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
19 If you need assistance in starting and conducting a home Bible study, feel free to speak with one of the overseers or with a fellow Witness who is effective in the Bible study work. The suggestions that appear in the Life and Ministry Meeting Workbook and are demonstrated at the meeting will also help you. Rely on Jehovah, and make your desire a matter of prayer. (1 John 3:22) So if at all possible, make it your aim to conduct a home Bible study in addition to any study that you may conduct with your family. By conducting Bible studies, you will increase your joy in the ministry.
DIRECTING INTERESTED ONES TO JEHOVAH’S ORGANIZATION
20 When we help people to come to know Jehovah God and become disciples of Jesus Christ, they become a part of the congregation. Bible students will make spiritual progress and grow to maturity if they recognize Jehovah’s organization and cooperate with it. Teaching them how to do so is important. Videos and the brochure Who Are Doing Jehovah’s Will Today? have been specifically prepared for this purpose. Some of the information in Chapter 4 of this publication may also be helpful.
21 From the very beginning of your Bible discussions, help the student to see that Jehovah is using an organization to get the preaching work done on earth today. Point out the value of our Bible study aids, and explain how they are produced and distributed worldwide by volunteer workers who are dedicated to God. Invite your Bible student to accompany you to the meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Explain how the meetings are conducted, and introduce him to the friends there. You will also want to help him get acquainted with other Witnesses at assemblies and conventions. On these and other occasions, let the new one observe for himself how Jehovah’s people display love, the identifying mark of true Christians. (John 13:35) As the interested one grows in appreciation for Jehovah’s organization, he will draw closer to Jehovah.
USING BIBLE LITERATURE
22 The early Christians became zealous publishers of the Word of God. They made copies of the Scriptures for their personal use and for congregation study. They recommended God’s Word of truth to others. Their handwritten copies were few in number and highly treasured. (Col. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:14-17; 4:13; 1 Pet. 1:1) Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses use modern printing methods to publish millions of Bibles and hundreds of millions of Bible study aids. These include tracts, brochures, books, and magazines in several hundred languages.
23 As you share the good news with others, be sure to make use of the Bible study aids provided by Jehovah’s organization. Various publications will be featured during the month. In addition, you will be able to offer magazines at different times each month, including on magazine days. Knowing how much you have personally benefited from reading and studying the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses will motivate you to share them with others.—Heb. 13:15, 16.
24 More and more people are using the Internet as their primary source of information. Therefore, in addition to Bible literature, our official website, jw.org, is an effective tool for spreading the good news. Individuals around the world can use the computer to read or listen to audio recordings of the Bible and Bible literature in hundreds of languages. Those who hesitate to converse with us or who live in areas where they have few opportunities to talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses are able to investigate our beliefs by using jw.org in the privacy of their home.
25 Therefore, we publicize jw.org at every appropriate opportunity. If a householder asks a question about our beliefs, we can use a mobile device or a computer to show him the answer right then and there. If we meet someone who speaks another language, including a sign language, we can direct him to our website to find the Bible and Bible literature in his language. Many publishers have used one of the videos on the website to start a Bible discussion.
26 To those who were paying attention to his word, Jesus said: “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matt. 5:14-16) Those disciples reflected God’s ways by imitating Jesus, who said of himself: “I am the light of the world.” Jesus set the example for Christians in letting “the light of life” shine for the benefit of all who would listen.—John 8:12.
27 The apostle Paul likewise set an example for us to follow. (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1) While in Athens, he witnessed every day in the marketplace to those who happened to be on hand. (Acts 17:17) The Christians in Philippi followed his example. For that reason, Paul could write to them that they were living “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,” among whom they were “shining as illuminators in the world.” (Phil. 2:15) We today can let the Kingdom truth shine forth by our words and actions whenever there is an opportunity for us to tell others about the good news. True, our good example as honest and upright people may in itself draw attention to the fact that we are different from the world. However, if we talk to them about the good news, they will get to know why we are different.
28 Many of Jehovah’s people present the good news to those whom they meet at work, in school, on public transportation, or elsewhere while going about their daily activities. When on a journey, we may have the opportunity to talk with fellow travelers. Individually, we must be alert to opportunities to turn ordinary conversation into a witness. Let us be prepared to speak with others on every appropriate occasion.
29 We will be motivated to do so if we keep in mind that we are praising our Creator and bringing honor to his name. In addition, we may be able to help honesthearted ones come to know Jehovah so that they too can serve him and gain the hope of life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Jehovah is pleased by such efforts and considers it sacred service.—Heb. 12:28; Rev. 7:9, 10.
30 It is Jehovah’s will that the Kingdom message be preached worldwide, both in cities and in rural areas. To this end, congregations as well as individuals who serve in isolated places receive territory assignments from the branch office. (1 Cor. 14:40) This is consistent with the God-directed arrangement in the first century. (2 Cor. 10:13; Gal. 2:9) With the rapid expansion of the Kingdom work in these last days, much is accomplished when the arrangement for working congregation territory is well-organized.
31 This arrangement comes under the direction of the service overseer. A ministerial servant may do the actual assigning of territory and keep the records up-to-date. There are two types of territories, group territories and personal territories. Where territory is limited, group overseers will have group territories in which publishers in the group can preach. On the other hand, where territory is plentiful, individual publishers may obtain personal territories.
32 A publisher who has a personal territory will have somewhere to preach at times when no meetings for field service have been arranged or when it is impractical to meet the group. For example, some publishers obtain a territory near their place of work and preach there during lunch breaks or after work. Some families obtain a personal territory in the neighborhood where they live, and they preach in it on some evenings. Having a conveniently located personal territory may help a publisher to make the most of the time he can devote to field service. Of course, personal territories may also be used for group witnessing. If you wish to have a personal territory, you may request one from the territory servant.
33 Whether it is a group territory obtained by the group overseer or a personal territory obtained by a publisher, the person who obtained the territory will make sure that it is worked thoroughly. This entails making sure that reasonable effort is made to contact someone at every residence. Perhaps some householders can be reached by other means, such as by letter, telephone, or street witnessing. Any group overseer or publisher who obtains a territory should endeavor to cover it within four months. Once it is completed, he should inform the territory servant that the territory has been worked, so that the records can be updated. The group overseer or publisher can either keep the territory and work it again or return it to the territory servant.
34 When all those associated with the congregation cooperate, the territory can be covered thoroughly. We can also avoid simultaneous coverage of the same area by two or more publishers, something that could irritate the householders. Thus we show consideration for our brothers and for the people in the territory.
COOPERATING TO PREACH TO PEOPLE OF ALL LANGUAGES
35 Everyone needs to learn about Jehovah God, his Son, and the Kingdom. (Rev. 14:6, 7) We are interested in helping people of all languages to call on the name of Jehovah for salvation and to put on the Christian personality. (Rom. 10:12, 13; Col. 3:10, 11) What are some challenges that arise when presenting the good news in multilingual areas? How can these be handled in a way that gives as many as possible the opportunity to hear the Kingdom message in the language they understand best?—Rom. 10:14.
36 The territory assignment for each congregation is according to language. Therefore, in multilingual areas, publishers from different congregations preach in the same neighborhoods. In such cases, it is best for the publishers from each congregation to concentrate on finding and preaching to the people of their own specific language. Generally, this means that when going from house to house, they will offer literature only in the language of their congregation. They will skip residences that belong to the territory of other-language congregations. This also applies during annual invitation campaigns. When engaging in public and informal witnessing, however, publishers may speak with anyone and offer literature in any language.
37 In some cases, other-language congregations cannot cover their more distant territory regularly and may prefer that the congregations working those areas not skip any homes. Publishers can do their best to convey the Kingdom message to people who speak another language. When an interested person is found, it is usually best for the congregation that holds meetings in his language to cultivate his interest. Circumstances vary, so the service overseers of the congregations involved should communicate with one another to work out a mutually acceptable system of covering the territory. This will give everyone an opportunity to hear the Kingdom message and will prevent unnecessary overlapping of efforts, which may irritate the householders.—Prov. 15:22.
38 What should we do if the person who answers the door speaks a language different from ours? We should not assume that publishers who speak his language will call on him. Therefore, we should use the booklet Good News for People of All Nations to determine his language and give him a witness. Some publishers have learned a simple presentation in a language that they often encounter in their territory. We can show a person how he may read or download literature in his language from our official website, jw.org, or we can offer to bring him literature in his language.
39 If the individual shows genuine interest, we should try to find someone who is qualified to help him in a language he understands. We can also tell him where nearby meetings are held in his language. If he wishes to be contacted by someone who speaks his language, we can show him how to enter his contact information on jw.org. In turn, the branch office will endeavor to locate a nearby publisher, group, or congregation that can assist him further.
40 Until the interested person tells us that he has been contacted by someone who speaks his language, we should continue calling on him. In some cases, the branch office will inform the elders that someone who speaks the person’s language could not be located. When this occurs, we should do our best to continue cultivating the householder’s interest. If possible, we can study the Bible with him, perhaps with the aid of a publication in his language. If we make good use of the pictures and have the person read the cited scriptures, he will get some basic Bible understanding. A member of his family who knows enough of his language and the local language may be willing to serve as an interpreter.
41 In order to direct the interested person to God’s organization, we should invite him to our meetings, even though he will not fully understand the program. When scriptures are read, we can help him find them by using a Bible in his language if one is available. Associating with others in the congregation can in itself be upbuilding and will help him make further spiritual progress.
42 If a sizable number of people in the congregation territory speak another language, the body of elders may request approval from the branch office to host a pregroup. A pregroup consists of a number of publishers who are preaching in a foreign language but have no qualified elder or ministerial servant who can conduct a weekly meeting in that language. From time to time, the elders can find out what possible support there might be for meetings in that language by having a public talk or a Watchtower Study or by arranging a tie-in to a meeting of a congregation that holds meetings in the language.
43 There are four basic requirements for forming a group: (1) Sufficient interest and potential for growth exists in a particular language field. (2) At least a small number of publishers know the language or are learning it. (3) A qualified elder or ministerial servant is available to take the lead and conduct at least one weekly meeting in that language. (4) A body of elders is willing to host the group. When these requirements are met to a reasonable degree, the body of elders will write to the branch office about the particulars of the group and will request formal recognition as a congregation hosting a foreign-language group. The elder or ministerial servant taking the lead would be considered the group overseer or group servant responsible for taking care of the group.
44 Generally, one of the first parts of the Life and Ministry Meeting that a foreign-language group will hold each week is the Congregation Bible Study. It is usually held in an auxiliary room at the Kingdom Hall. In time, student assignments on the Life and Ministry Meeting may be presented in the auxiliary room if an elder or a ministerial servant conversant with the language can serve as the chairman. The elders may approve the holding of other meetings, such as the Public Meeting and the Watchtower Study. Meetings for field service may also be arranged for the group. All in the group work under the oversight of the body of elders hosting the group. The elders will provide balanced direction and show initiative in caring for the needs of the group. When a circuit overseer works with the group during the week of his visit to the host congregation, he will provide the branch office with a brief report on the group’s progress and mention any specific needs. In due course, it may be possible for the group to become a congregation. If all involved in working the foreign-language field apply theocratic direction, Jehovah will be pleased.—1 Cor. 1:10; 3:5, 6.
45 Dedicated Christians have a personal responsibility to share the good news with others. There are many ways to do this, but most of us appreciate being able to go out in field service with others. (Luke 10:1) For this reason, congregations meet for field service on weekends as well as during the week. Holidays also provide fine opportunities for group witnessing, since many brothers have time off from work. The service overseer should take the lead by working with the body of elders in arranging meetings for field service at convenient times and locations during the day and in the evenings.
46 Group witnessing enables publishers to work together and experience “an interchange of encouragement.” (Rom. 1:12) Newer publishers can work along with skilled, experienced publishers and receive training. In some areas, it may be advisable for two or more publishers to work together for safety reasons. Even if you are planning to work by yourself in the territory, meeting with the group can be encouraging for all concerned. Just knowing that others are out in the ministry, working in the same general area, can give you confidence. Pioneers and others should not feel obliged to support every meeting for field service organized by the congregation, especially if such are held each day. However, it will likely be possible for them to support at least some meetings for service each week.
47 May all of us follow the pattern set by Jesus and his apostles! We can be certain of Jehovah’s blessing on our endeavors to have a full share in the vital work of preaching this good news of the Kingdom.—Luke 9:57-62.