How Jehovah Prospers His Work
The phenomenal growth of Jehovah’s witnesses in 179 lands prompts many to ask, Who finances the work? The Society is pleased to answer this and related questions herein.
Q. Do Jehovah’s witnesses practice tithing?
A. No. In Jehovah’s pre-Christian congregation tithing was God’s method of supporting his temple workers called Levites, who had no tribal land other than certain cities. Even then Jehovah’s worshipers were free to volunteer contributions for special projects such as the tabernacle furnishings and later the temple. (Ex. 35:29; 1 Chro. 29:17) Jehovah nailed the old Law covenant to Jesus’ torture stake. As Paul states: “Christ is the accomplished end of the Law.” (Rom. 10:4) Christian giving operates entirely by love, never by compulsion, as outlined at 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This is the Scriptural method practiced by Jehovah’s witnesses.
Q. Do you sanction collection envelopes, canvassing for funds, dinners and similar methods of fund-raising?
A. When Christians are properly taught God’s Word and come to know Jehovah and understand his purposes, they willingly support his Kingdom work. It is not necessary to coerce them into giving by appealing to their gratification of pleasure or hounding them. Because Christendom has failed to give her people spiritual food she must now resort to such things as bingo, bazaars, raffles, carnivals, renting pews, passing collection plates, tithing and even special fund-raising sermons. Jesus never used such methods and neither do Jehovah’s modern-day witnesses.—Matt. 10:8.
Q. How do you finance such projects as your new school and dormitory building in Brooklyn, and new branch offices around the world? Is this all financed by headquarters?
A. Jehovah God has revealed his wonderful qualities of love, wisdom, justice and power to his children in every land. John 6:45) Without discrimination, each one who makes a dedication to do God’s will is privileged to give his time, energy and material support to Jehovah’s cause, which is the vindication of his name through his kingdom by Christ Jesus. Jehovah pours out his holy spirit upon all his witnesses, enabling them “to work at good, to be rich in right works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a right foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Tim. 6:18, 19) This spirit of unselfishness motivates Jehovah’s witnesses to support the Kingdom work in their own land as far as possible. Last year in 179 lands 916,332 Witnesses contributed 131,662,684 hours in teaching God’s Word to others. They made 44,440,977 return visits on interested persons and each week conducted 640,458 home Bible studies. The expense getting to and from these homes was paid by the individual making the call. This was in addition to giving financial support to care for local Kingdom Halls where Jehovah’s witnesses meet. This labor of love Jehovah rewarded with an increase of 69,027 newly baptized Witnesses.
In the United States recently, the Society saw the need for new dormitory and school facilities. Construction plans were announced to the congregations and Witnesses were invited to contribute toward this expense. The response was gratifying. Many sent gifts. All these expressions of love were much appreciated. Today the new Watchtower Bible School of Gilead is in operation, with the 101 students in the present class brought from around the world, expenses paid. Additionally, in various countries the Society has inaugurated Kingdom Ministry schools where local presiding ministers will receive free training to shepherd God’s flock more skillfully. The Society likewise uses contributed funds sent to any of its branches to maintain 742 missionaries in 266 missionary homes, besides 1,299 ordained ministers in eighty-five branch offices. Last year the Society aided 5,148 special pioneer ministers to remain in isolated territories to teach the Bible and organize new congregations. Even at self-denial in some cases, Jehovah’s witnesses in the United States voluntarily support this work by sending contributions to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Treasurer’s Office, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn 1, N.Y. In other lands Witnesses direct their donations to the local branch office, obtaining the address from the list that appears in the back of most of the Society’s books and booklets. Because they give out of love, Jehovah’s witnesses find great pleasure in furthering the Society’s worldwide Bible-educational work.
Q. Why do you not operate missionary hospitals or clinics and engage in relief and other social services as many religious groups do?
A. Jehovah’s witnesses frequently respond to emergencies caused by war or natural disaster. Food and, more often, huge shipments of clothing are sent to our branch office in the disaster area for immediate relief of known victims. However, we do not operate hospitals or clinics any more than we run fire departments or police forces, which also preserve life and limb. As dedicated ministers of the gospel our lifesaving work is to preach and teach the good news of Jehovah’s kingdom in all the world before the end of this system arrives at Armageddon. (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 16:14, 16) As Jesus said, the work is great and the workers are few. It would be unforgivable to neglect this all-important work and take up other activities, however meritorious. It happens that a number of Jehovah’s witnesses are doctors, nurses and hospital aides, but this is in addition to their primary vocation, the ministry.
Q. Do any of the Society’s officers or members realize monetary wealth from your extensive printing activities?
A. Emphatically, No. Occasionally our adversaries have inferred that such might be the case, evidently to discredit our rapidly expanding work. By law the Society is a nonprofit corporation. There are no stockholders, no dividends, not even salaries. Each minister at headquarters, including the Society’s president, directors and members, receives a stipend of $14 a month, plus food, shelter and travel expenses when on Society’s business, usually a speaking engagement or tour. Nowhere in the world do our ministers charge for performing weddings, baptisms or funerals. There are no admission charges or collections at our public lectures or conventions, and, obviously, if money were the object, such would not be the case.
Incidentally, in a recent court action brought by the Society to secure a tax exemption wrongfully denied, the opposing counsel subjected the Society’s financial records to minute examination for the purpose of proving, if possible, that it is engaged in printing for profit and therefore not entitled to tax exemption. As reported in Awake! magazine of January 22, 1961, the New York State Court of Appeals on November 17, 1960, granted the Society’s right to tax exemption as a charitable, benevolent, nonprofit-making organization. Opposing counsel found no evidence to substantiate the false charge that the Society’s officers or members reap commercial profits from its printing activities.
Q. Since collection plates are never passed, how do the local congregations meet their expenses?
A. They meet their expenses locally in the same way as they support the work generally—voluntarily. A contribution box is kept near the entrance to the Kingdom Hall. (2 Ki. 12:9) All donations, including the widow’s “two small coins,” help defray expenses, whether that be for Kingdom Hall construction, rent, fuel, light, water, and so forth. (Mark 12:42) No pledges are taken; no list of contributors is made. Once a month the minister responsible for the accounts reads a brief statement to the congregation, advising them of total contributions and expenditures. When newly dedicated Witnesses understand this arrangement, they voluntarily take part, each one “as he may be prospering.” (1 Cor. 16:2) This is the practice in each of the 21,008 congregations world-wide.
Q. At Pentecost early Christians held all things in common. Do Jehovah’s witnesses do this?
A. An emergency food and housing problem arose following Pentecost when newly converted Christians remained in the city to take in further spiritual enlightenment. This occasioned voluntary sale of property and common sharing of all things during that extended period of fellowship. (Acts 2:1, 38-47; 4:32-37) No one was obligated to sell or donate, but all were expected to tell the truth. Ananias and Sapphira conspired to lie about the extent of their contribution and were cut off by God. (Acts 5:1-11) This holding of things in common was not Communism, as some suppose. It was a temporary arrangement similar to what occurs when Jehovah’s witnesses living in a Watchtower convention city welcome visiting delegates into their homes and share food and shelter. Likewise property has been deeded to the Society and it has been named beneficiary in Wills. All such giving assists in spreading spiritual enlightenment as at Pentecost. None of it is ever mandatory or communistic.
Q. Do you teach that material giving is a means of atoning for sin?
A. No. The Bible says: “You know that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, as a ransom that you were released from your fruitless form of conduct received by tradition from your forefathers. But it was with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s.”—1 Pet. 1:18, 19.
Jehovah’s witnesses acknowledge that it requires a considerable amount of funds to spread effectively the good news of God’s righteous new world. (2 Pet. 3:13) They also acknowledge that contributing toward this proclamation is a privilege granted by Jehovah. Like David, they say: “Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the eminence and the dignity, for everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours. . . . For everything is from you and out of your own hand we have given to you.”—1 Chron. 29:11, 14.
That is how Jehovah prospers his work.