“The way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air.”—1 Cor. 9:26, NW.
1. Why is it right and proper for Jehovah’s witnesses to be productive today?
TO PLEASE Jehovah today his witnesses must be productive, even as were his witnesses of old. To his disciples Jesus, the perfect Example, said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and follow me continually.” (Matt. 16:24, NW) Jesus’ apostle Peter did that; hence he was able to write: “In Fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Pet. 2:21, NW) Not only do we have Jesus as a model but now he is invisibly present, directing the work of productive witnessing. Therefore those who are witnesses today must show good results in the ministry.—John 4:36; 1 Cor. 3:8; Gal. 6:9, 10, NW.
2. Why may it be said that the “good news” carries with it the factor of productivity?
2 The fact that A.D. 1914 the permanent kingdom of Jehovah was established with Christ Jesus on its heavenly throne is good news indeed. This good news carries with it the factor of productivity, for those who hear are privileged and obligated to pass on what they hear to others. Notice how this is stated at Revelation’s last chapter: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying, ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Rev. 22:17, NW.
3. What petition did Jesus say his followers should make, and what has been the result?
3 Jesus likened our day to harvesttime, when there is much work to be done but not much time in which to do it. He said: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:37, 38, NW) Today Jehovah, the Master of the harvest, has answered this prayer of his anointed witnesses, the ones commissioned by him to preach the good news of his kingdom, by sending more than six hundred thousand workers earth-wide to aid in the ingathering of those in the world who are of good will toward God. In spite of this vast number, the harvest still is great and help is urgently needed. Shall we continue to petition Jehovah to send more? Yes, for Jehovah has blessed the productive efforts of his witnesses. That is how the number has risen to this amazing figure. That has been Jehovah’s answer in the past. So it will be in the future.
4, 5. In what other way did Jesus refer to the witness today, and how did it show productivity?
4 Jesus also referred to it as bearing fruit, Kingdom fruit. This is especially so now, the establishing of the Kingdom in our day already having taken place. Like seed, said Jesus, the Kingdom message when sown on good soil sprouts, matures and produces fruit. “As for that on the right soil, these are the ones that, after hearing the word with a right and good heart, retain it and bear fruit with endurance.” (Luke 8:15, NW) It is Jehovah’s law that fruit be borne after its kind; therefore we should bear the same fruit that is sown in us, namely, the fruit of the Kingdom, its message. (Gen. 1:11, NW) Jesus climaxed the counsel about being fruitful when he said to his disciples: “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit.” (John 15:8, NW) Note he said “much fruit.” This forcefully draws to our attention that Jehovah requires us to be productive witnesses, accomplishing much through preaching, locating persons of good will, feeding them and bringing them to maturity so that they likewise will see their privilege of bearing Kingdom fruit.—Titus 3:8; Heb. 13:15, NW.
5 We have been given much in the way of Kingdom truths and privileges of giving them out to others. The rule was laid down by Jesus with these words: “The one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him.” (Luke 12:48, NW) The truth brings with it great responsibility, which, if we are to be faithful and get life, must be performed in a right manner. Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the cultivator. Every branch in me not bearing fruit he takes away, and every one bearing fruit he cleans, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1, 2, NW) As the Vine, Christ Jesus directs the production of fruit to Jehovah’s praise, but the branches bear the fruit. According to Jesus’ words, the branches must bring forth Kingdom fruitage, or else be pruned off as useless. Jehovah cleans and prunes his vinelike organization for the producing of Kingdom fruit. If we appreciate the illustration we shall work for a productive ministry.
6. How may productive witnessing today be illustrated and is the relationship among the witnesses a desirable one?
6 Jehovah’s great universal organization is a productive one, as all creation abundantly testifies. Through his universal production manager, Christ Jesus, Jehovah has fashioned his earthly organization for production too. It is a smooth-running organization, earth-wide in scope, well equipped, efficient, manned by hundreds of thousands of willing workers. In it you will find none picketing, no “sit-down strikers,” no labor trouble of any kind; for all have an interest here. Love fills the heart of each one. Every one shows love for the employer, Jehovah, love for the overseer, Christ Jesus; so peace prevails and all unitedly get on with the production effort.
7. What are some essentials to full production within the New World society?
7 In this theocratic organization there are key practices that contribute most to production; also there are supporting and connecting activities that make for an efficient, well organized way of work. For instance, workers have been furnished many study helps and divine instructions generously given. These they diligently study and apply. At the Kingdom Hall weekly meetings provide opportunities for workers to assemble together to gain strength through association with those of like faith. (Heb. 10:24, 25, NW) Here, too, they see service demonstrations and receive counsel on preaching. Here, also, the joyful workers attend theocratic ministry school, each learning to express the message effectively. These all are essential to full production within the New World society.
8. What attitude should all servants of Jehovah have, and how may one rightly boast?
8 But the core of it all they do keep in mind: Their responsibility to communicate the Kingdom message is the important thing. Each producer is merely the vessel containing the seeds of truth. Unitedly the workers are used by the great Sower, Christ Jesus, to scatter the seeds. As individuals the workers are relatively unimportant. Each one always keeps this in mind, seeking always to magnify the truth and its great Giver, Jehovah. (1 Pet. 4:10, 11; Rev. 7:9, 10, NW) Concluding one of his simple illustrations, to his eager coworkers Jesus pointedly said: ‘So you, also, when you have done all these things assigned to you, say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’” (Luke 17:10, NW) True, each faithful preacher’s contact with good-will persons is important. He will be diligent to revisit the home of the interested, to water the seed of truth until it sprouts; then after that he continues to cultivate the planting, that growth, progress to maturity, may result. Even so, the zealous workers still are good-for-nothing slaves. To their Master, Jehovah, they can bring nothing but love, praise and service. So having nothing to boast of, save having the truth, which was freely given to them through Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, they humbly labor on. Defining this right way of working, both Jeremiah and Paul wrote: “He that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.” (Jer. 9:24, AS; 2 Cor. 10:17, NW) Remaining humble, giving praise to Jehovah and unitedly magnifying him before others, the skillful workers prosper.—John 4:36, NW; Ps. 34:1-3; Jer. 17:7, 8, AS.
WAY OF WORK
9. What good results may be expected from use of the Bible in a three- to eight-minute sermon?
9 To be efficient, productive ministers in door-to-door preaching members of the New World society realize the need for clear presentation. Three years ago the Society introduced the three- to eight-minute Bible sermon. The sermon stresses an appropriate theme showing God’s present purpose, by means of a few selected scriptures. Carefully reading aloud from the Bible each of those texts enables the persons visited to see that a true minister of God’s good news is backing up what he says with God’s Word. Sometimes an earnest worker feels that nothing he says will gain attentive interest in a particular community—that the people have a deep-seated prejudice about being visited on Bible matters because they are very religious. In part, this may probably be true, but does the announcer of Jehovah’s kingdom give up, saying: ‘Nothing works here’? No. Does he patiently, tactfully keep on presenting a lively, interesting three- to eight-minute sermon? Yes, he opens his Bible, or invites the householder to bring out his own. Then, reading aloud scriptures to support his description of the established Kingdom, he stirs in the listener a deeper respect for the Bible. Gently he helps the listener to replace false ideas with accurate knowledge, so he can begin to understand the minister as a true friend.
10. Where may one find good sermons and source material for many others?
10 Do these friendly ministers find it difficult to know what to say in their short sermon? No, for they constantly exchange helpful suggestions. First, they try one of the short sermons printed in their monthly Kingdom Ministry. Those are excellent field-tested sermons. In fact, the Society asked its traveling field representatives, who had been especially successful in obtaining subscriptions, to describe the successful presentation they used. Almost all replied that they use those outlined in Kingdom Ministry. Some, to get started, memorize one of these sermons. Soon such beginners speak right from the heart with all the sincerity and conviction the truth produces in one. The Society has urged that, for variety, workers have several sermons to draw from, to fit the many different situations. Besides those already outlined in Kingdom Ministry, the Watchtower and Awake! magazines abound with ideas for short, lively three- to eight-minute sermons. Additionally, within the covers of the book “Make Sure of All Things” are many useful sermon points and classified Bible texts. Certainly Jehovah has abundantly provided constructive materials for each willing spokesman of his to use in becoming a productive witness.
11. For witnessing to be productive what must follow the placing of literature explaining the Bible?
11 As productive ministers go from house to house they place certain literature. It may be booklets, magazines, a book or a Bible—assuredly something. Each worker’s number of placements will depend on his diligence and the amount of time he works. Who can say the three- to eight-minute sermon has not increased his literature placements? But after placing one or more helpful publications does the diligent worker let the implanted seed of truth sprout of itself? Does he allow Satan the opportunity to destroy it? For years in the past that often was the way many worked who felt that placing the message in people’s hands was sufficient. Increase came slowly during those years. But recently the Society has reminded all field workers that, according to Scriptural counsel, they must not deprive the “stranger” of his right to learn the truth. (1 Ki. 8:41-43; Prov. 3:27; John 10:16, NW) Indeed, it is imperative that willing listeners be promptly revisited, for watering the implanted seed and to protect the tender young growth. The productive minister expects fruitage. He performs his part for that result, knowing it is God who ‘keeps making it grow.’—1 Cor. 3:6, NW.
TRAINED PRODUCER HELPS BEGINNER
12. (a) Why do some workers have less success than others? (b) How can the trained worker help the beginner?
12 In the theocratic organization this back-calling link is basic. (Acts 15:36, NW) And a strong link it is too. But just how strong it is depends on how faithfully the individual minister calls back after initial literature placements. To provide himself with opportunities for back-calls the productive minister spends many hours each month in introductory house-to-house service, using his short sermons. Many zealous witnesses readily place literature but experience little success in following it up. In your case, the trained producer asks his youthful companion worker, Can it be that when you do make a back-call you find it hard to get to the subject of the truth? Sometimes this is so. To illustrate, then, suppose you promise a family of friends to come for a picnic. It is agreed you are to bring the food and they are to furnish all the other things. Comes the date; you are on time and you have the food. It is in the basket you brought along. Your friends are hungry; they wonder why you do not take the food out and place it before them. But you do not, and it stays in the basket. Finally you leave, taking the food with you. How do your friends feel? Empty? Beyond a doubt, and disappointed too. You have wasted your time and theirs also. You cannot say you have found joy, nor have they been refreshed. So it is with sharing spiritual food: Why be timid about it? They know you are a minister; you said so on your initial call at their home. They saw you use your Bible and they expect it again. Yes, you do need proper tools to start work, so here is what you should do:
13, 14. (a) How has the Society again come to our aid with respect to back-call work? (b) What are some points to keep in mind when arranging back-call activity?
13 Create the situation by going prepared to talk further on the subject you dealt with in your first short sermon, but this time extend it to a ten- to fifteen-minute talk. Here again the Society has provided for the productive minister. To talk at that time on the same subject you used at the first call it will have been necessary to make note of your theme on your house-to-house record. Also, when you make up your three- to eight-minute sermons it is good to have in mind the future need of expanding the subject for use on your first back-call; therefore select several more scriptures for that purpose. Knowing definitely what you are to discuss on your return call will enable you to work with confidence; and then, too, your good-will family will be genuinely benefited by your advance preparation. After you arrive it is essential that you get down to considering the truth from God’s Word as soon as possible. Only a few words will be necessary to get acquainted again and then you can tell the purpose of your call. Just be human, with consideration, warmth, friendliness. The family may have taken a booklet. You can turn the conversation to the truth somewhat like this: ‘By now you probably have read your booklet and noticed it touched on the subject we discussed last week, on living forever, remember? Since you told me you would like to live forever I have gathered a few more scriptures on this wonderful Bible truth. They will further strengthen your hope in living and not dying. Let me read this one to you.’
14 Now the hard part—getting started—is over, and you are on your way toward a very pleasant and productive back-call. Bear this in mind: It is very important that we have our back-calls planned in advance, know what we are going to talk about.
15. What has proved to be the most productive feature of witnessing, and how may each witness become productive in it?
15 Back-calls have a purpose, the eventual starting of a home Bible study. Here the foundation is laid; then the building on it begins. Here the newly interested one, a prospective Kingdom-publisher, is beginning to grow in knowledge and understanding; and thereby he becomes eager to tell others the good news. During this time, be it weeks or months, he is introduced to the organization when coming with you to the local service center, the Kingdom Hall, and possibly to a circuit assembly. He is encouraged to keep on telling of the Kingdom to his friends. You supply him with extra copies of booklets and magazines. In all this you are keeping in mind the purpose of your study at that home—the producing of another praiser of Jehovah. To that end he is invited to go with you in your witnessing from house to house and on back-calls. As a result your prospective companion witness soon is on his own and then he is living proof that you are a productive witness.
16, 17. (a) How do people regard magazines today? (b) How is this public attitude being taken advantage of by The Watchtower and Awake!?
16 Now consider another important feature in the New World society organization. First some questions: When you approach a newsstand, what do you see? Magazines. At a corner store what strikes your eye? Magazines! What makes a postman bend under the weight of his mailbag? MAGAZINES. And what do most people read? MAGAZINES! Truly today’s world is magazine-conscious. But how to make it Watchtower and Awake! conscious occupies the thoughts of Jehovah’s servants. With ever-widening circulation of these two magazines the witness being given is becoming immeasurable. That is thinking ahead.
17 Now look back: In 1939 the first world-wide Watchtower subscription campaign brought immediate increase. Magazine production doubled over that of the previous year, more than 9,000,000 copies being printed. With that beginning, rapid increase followed year after year. In 1955 printing of both magazines exceeded eighty-six and a half million copies. This is a nineteen-hundred-percent increase over the production in 1938. Today The Watchtower and Awake! regularly penetrate millions of homes in many lands. Through productive witnessing more and more of earth’s inhabitants are becoming increasingly conscious of these two magazines.
18. Just how awake is the Society to this field of Kingdom advertising, and what can reasonably be expected of us as individual proclaimers of the “good news”?
18 But is that enough? Today everywhere tension mounts. Perplexity and anxiety about the future are arousing serious, sober thinking. The Watchtower and Awake! reliably tell what lies ahead. They tell how the oncoming tempest’s fury may be survived. Therefore unknown millions of persons of good will can yet become accurately aware of the vitally valuable contents of these two magazines. Accordingly, the Society continues to prepare to serve those millions. At Brooklyn since 1938 factory space has been doubled twice. Two high-speed magazine presses and other equipment were added. In the summer of 1956 the construction of the Society’s new 13-story magazine building was finished. Soon thereafter came delivery of two more magazine presses. Also in its plants in South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany magazine production is expanding. Thus the need for more magazines is being met in a practical way. At the same time what are individual productive ministers planning? In 1957 Jehovah’s witnesses will try regularly to reach more persons of good will with these two magazines.
19. To reach the high quota of magazine publishers what will be necessary?
19 In the months ahead, as we confidently expect, all announcers of Jehovah’s kingdom will become magazine publishers. A sturdy congregation organization is essential for attaining this goal. Definite times should be set for magazine distribution on the street, from store to store and house to house. Service centers are especially adapted to magazine work; and here too the training program will help much, even as in the regular house-to-house witnessing. Have you not as yet shared in witnessing with magazines? There is no time like the present to start. With another you can start, finding how effectively you serve. Thus unitedly we can attain the goal: Every productive minister a magazine publisher. This naturally will mean expanding magazine production by your fellow workers at the Brooklyn factory and at other branches of the Society around the earth. But this added work to those already busy ones will bring increasing joy. They will count it a privilege to serve with you for providing to many needy ones these most important of all magazines.
20. (a) As to magazine witnessing, what suggestion has been made? (b) How may we find joy in magazine witnessing, and what may result from placement of a single magazine?
20 Generally speaking, Saturday is magazine day. For most people it is the busiest day. Through experience of many it appears that a short, to-the-point presentation is best when offering magazines. The object is to place many copies. They will do their own “talking.” The Society suggests a half-minute to a minute presentation, a well-worded statement of one point discussed in the magazine being offered. Many publishers find store-to-store work with the magazines attractive. They have been able to establish regular routes. If you hesitate to approach store owners or managers try something like this: “No doubt you are very busy, sir, but I shall take only a moment of your time. I am introducing to you the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. They are for busy people. They say much in few words. These two are yours for just ten cents. You will enjoy them, I am sure.” Some are meeting with very good results in street work by tactfully engaging passers-by (one at a time) in conversation, walking along and offering the two magazines. But most of those sharing in magazine distribution find best results in house-to-house work. In whatever part of the field you work you will find joy in witnessing with magazines. Now a word of caution: Make note of any special interest on your house-to-house record and later call back, as the truth contained in the magazines may be planted in “good soil” and with due care may eventually bear fruit to Jehovah’s praise.
21. How do Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 9:26 fit in with productive witnessing?
21 Not only does productive witnessing mean much preaching activity, but it must be done with an eye for quality as well. (Col. 3:23, NW) There was a time when we gave little thought and planning to our service. But those days are gone. We must be diligent, using precious time effectively. In this vein, to the Christians Paul wrote: “The way I am directing my blows is so as not to be striking the air.” (1 Cor. 9:26, NW) A production line yields results only when work is being done, and so it is within the New World society. Service must never lag. It must be well planned, well organized, become efficient and be kept moving on the part of all servants of Jehovah.
22. (a) In modern times just how productive has witnessing become? (b) What obligation is laid on those who are productive witnesses?
22 In early Christian times Jehovah’s witnesses were productive. They bore much Kingdom fruit. (Acts 10:44-47; 13:48, 49; 15:30-32; 28:30, 31, NW) Now in the “last days” productive witnessing has been revived. In 1919, for instance, there were but a few thousand active in preaching; but by 1945 the number active had grown to 141,606 world-wide. This marvelous growth caused much joy and encouragement to Jehovah’s witnesses in that year; but observe their joy now, when in 1955 a peak of 642,000 reported service, an increase of half a million in ten years! Productive witnessing has borne fruit! Why, in ten weeks alone during the summer of 1955 series of Triumphant Kingdom assemblies, thirteen thousand symbolized their dedication to Jehovah. Obligation is urgent upon those mature in the organization to aid beginners to grow to maturity, that their witnessing likewise may become productive. Dare we limit the number who will yet join with us in declaring the good news? To Jehovah we give thanks for the increase of “workers” in this time of harvest. To his honor we direct all our productive witnessing and pray for his continual blessing.
23. What are some questions we must answer affirmatively to be productive witnesses?
23 Therefore, in view of the productiveness of Jehovah’s New World society, let us ask ourselves a few practical questions: What is our position in Jehovah’s communicating organization? What evidence do we have to show that we are productive witnesses? Do we work or just ride along? Do we set right examples in personal study, in faithful meeting attendance? Are we regular in the service from house to house, on back-calls, in the use of Bible sermons, in conducting Bible studies and helping others by supporting the training program? Do we share in and support all witnessing campaigns? Good production means doing all these things. As Jehovah is productive, so must we be as we work together in his New World society of Kingdom-fruit bearers. This must be so if we desire life in his New World. Jehovah’s most wonderful blessings are in store for those who are productive witnesses and every one who knows the truth can witness. All one needs to do is talk to his neighbor and discuss the Bible. Even all you readers of The Watchtower can declare Jehovah’s kingdom as the only hope for mankind.