Questions From Readers
How are we to understand the figures in the annual service report?
Each year, we look forward to the service report published in the Yearbook. It is thrilling to see what Jehovah’s people as a group have accomplished in the worldwide Kingdom preaching and teaching work. But to derive the greatest benefit from the report, we need a correct understanding of the entries as well as a balanced view of the figures. Consider a few examples.
Service year. This extends from September of one year through August of the next. The Yearbook contains the report for the preceding service year. Thus, the 2011 Yearbook contains the report for the 2010 service year, which ran from September 1, 2009, to August 31, 2010.
Peak publishers and average publishers. “Publishers” includes baptized Witnesses of Jehovah as well as unbaptized ones who qualify to be Kingdom preachers. “Peak publishers” is the highest number reporting for any one month of the service year and may include late reports that were not added to the preceding month’s report. In this way some publishers may be counted twice. However, the peak figure does not include the number of publishers who actually shared in the ministry but forgot to report. This emphasizes the importance of each publisher reporting promptly each month. “Average publishers” is the typical number of different ones reporting time in the ministry each month.
Total hours. According to the 2011 Yearbook, Jehovah’s Witnesses spent over 1.6 billion hours in the field ministry. This total, however, does not represent all the hours we spend in our worship, for it does not include time we regularly devote to such activities as shepherding, attending meetings, and engaging in personal Bible study and meditation.
Money spent. During the 2010 service year, Jehovah’s Witnesses spent over $155 million in caring for special pioneers, missionaries, and traveling overseers in their field service assignments. This figure does not, however, include the cost of printing the Bible-based publications we produce; nor does it include the money spent in caring for the more than 20,000 Bethel volunteers staffing the branch facilities around the world.
Memorial partakers. This is the number of baptized individuals who partake of the emblems at the Memorial worldwide. Does this total represent the number of anointed ones on earth? Not necessarily. A number of factors—including past religious beliefs or even mental or emotional imbalance—might cause some to assume mistakenly that they have the heavenly calling. We thus have no way of knowing the exact number of anointed ones on earth; nor do we need to know. The Governing Body does not keep a list of all partakers, for it does not maintain a global network of anointed ones.*
What we do know is that there will be some of the anointed “slaves of our God” on earth when the destructive winds of the great tribulation are released. (Rev. 7:1-3) Until then, the anointed will take the lead in something that is well-documented by our annual service report—the greatest preaching and teaching work in human history.
See the article “The Faithful Steward and Its Governing Body,” in the June 15, 2009, issue of The Watchtower, page 24.