Questions From Readers
▪ In view of the new information about unbaptized ones starting out in the public ministry, may a Bible student be invited along for a while to see how the work is done?
Basically, unbaptized ones who accompany Jehovah’s Witnesses in the field ministry are persons who have qualified as publishers of the good news.
Many of the public respect Jehovah’s Witnesses for their unique and fine work of ‘making disciples, teaching them’ from door to door and through home Bible studies. (Matthew 28:19, 20) What, then, would the public conclude about a person accompanying a Witness in this ministry? They reasonably would conclude that the companion also is a minister or very close to being such.
Granted, a few exceptions might come to mind.
On rare occasions appropriate elders have permitted a news reporter, college professor, or the like to accompany a Witness in the house-to-house ministry so as to see how it is done. Of course, the person’s appearance and actions on such occasions should not conflict with our standards. And the Witness might want to mention to householders that the companion is a reporter or a professor who is interested in observing how we do our important Bible work.
Also, Christian parents bring their children with them in the ministry even if these are too young or otherwise not ready to become unbaptized publishers. These parents thus do not leave their children unattended. Having them along in the field service allows the parents to speak to their children about God’s Word and ways as they “walk on the road.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) But this is an aspect of Christian family life, not a matter of a Witness bringing another person along as a mere observer. Of course, such parental training prepares the children for the time when they will praise Jehovah as publishers.—Matthew 21:15, 16; compare Organized to Accomplish Our Ministry, pages 99, 100.
What, though, about a person with whom a Witness is conducting a Bible study, a person who is on the way to becoming a disciple? He has good reason to tell relatives, workmates, neighbors, and others about “the magnificent things of God” that he has learned from the Scriptures. (Acts 2:11) Hopefully, there will come a point when he sees the need to share with Jehovah’s Witnesses in organized arrangements for “publishing the word of God.”—Acts 13:5.
The Watchtower recently outlined appropriate steps before such a student joins with local Witnesses in the ministry, becoming an unbaptized publisher. It is only logical that he should have a basic knowledge of the Bible, should understand and be in harmony with God’s moral standards, and should personally desire to participate in the public ministry with Jehovah’s Witnesses. So two congregation elders can have a helpful and encouraging discussion of such points with him and the Witness who is studying the Bible with him.* This should be done before the Bible student is invited to accompany the publisher in the field ministry to receive progressive training.
Understandably, when a student qualifies to go out in the field ministry and then first does so, he may for a few times want to go along with the publisher to learn how the preaching work is actually done. The minister with him may provide some gradual training, such as asking him to assist for a while by reading scriptures, then in time have him take the lead in witnessing to a householder. Thus, he can turn in his first field service report when he actually shares in field witnessing. His progressively having an increased share in the work accords with Jesus’ words: “A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone that is perfectly instructed will be like his teacher.”—Luke 6:40.
For details, see The Watchtower of November 15, 1988, page 17.