Building Meeting Attendance
1 How important are meetings to Jehovah’s servants? So important that in some lands our brothers have risked their very lives or freedom to attend regularly. Such ones have recognized that, just as failure regularly to eat wholesome food may eventually produce sickness and even death, so persistent nonattendance at meetings can result in serious spiritual illness. At meetings we receive encouragement to persevere in serving Jehovah despite the many pressures, physical and mental, coming upon us in this dying system of things. Realizing the importance of meeting attendance, what can we do to encourage any of our brothers and sisters who may be ‘getting tired and giving out in their souls’ to assemble with us and be revitalized in faith and fine works?—Heb. 12:1, 3; 10:23-25.
2 Primarily the elders in each congregation have the responsibility to “shepherd the flock of God . . becoming examples to the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:2, 3) Since elders also have a large part in teaching the congregation, they can do much to build appreciation for meetings by making them as interesting and instructive as possible through their own good preparation. How much the entire congregation appreciates and benefits from every well-prepared meeting! Too, as elders aid their own families to participate in meetings, this will set a fine example for other family heads.
3 When visiting the homes of brothers, elders may find it beneficial to show a family group, not only how to hold a good family study, but also how to prepare specifically for meetings, how to find and underline answers to questions in the publications, how each family member can be given something to do when getting ready to leave for the meetings, so all will have the necessary supplies. He can encourage individuals and family groups to review the Theocratic Ministry School schedule and the program for the service meeting in the Kingdom Ministry each week to see what publications will be needed. These schedules are like a menu outlining the spiritual food that will be enjoyed that evening. They whet our appetites for the meetings.
4 Those having parts on the program should apply the information to local circumstances. When, on certain occasions, an entire portion of a service meeting program does not apply to the congregation (such as an article dealing with isolated territory, in a city congregation where there is no such territory nearby), the elders may choose to substitute a part dealing with some local matter, the consideration of which will be of benefit to the congregation. Everyone having any part on a service meeting can ascertain what, if any, adjustments may be needed to make that part as practical and upbuilding to the congregation as possible.
5 A congregation book study conductor has a fine opportunity to be a blessing to his brothers through his own good preparation. Before coming to meetings, he should have clearly in mind what he wants to teach and how he is going to do this. Obviously, it is necessary to know in advance how much material will be covered. He should be able to recite to himself the main points he wants to teach and it will be helpful if he has review questions prepared. During his concluding comments at the book study, he may, from time to time, whet the appetite of the brothers for the remaining meetings that week by asking two or three questions on high points that will be considered.
6 As elders share in the shepherding work, they can visit those missing meetings and encourage them to attend. In some cases the elders may be able to arrange for them to have transportation wherever this would encourage more regular attendance. When an emergency occurs that prevents the one being assisted from attending a meeting, however, it would be a kindness to telephone the brother providing transportation so time and money are not wasted. Elders can also help more to participate in meetings by reviewing with them during their visits the suggestions in Studies 7 and 18 in the School Guidebook. Surely this will prove to be an occasion for a real interchange of encouragement and will be most faith strengthening.—Rom. 1:11, 12.
7 We will help ourselves to get more benefit from the meetings by preparing for them individually or with our families. If we cannot prepare thoroughly for all the meetings, probably we can consider at least some of the material before attending the meetings. If the entire lesson cannot be studied in preparation for the book study, the Watchtower study or the Theocratic Ministry School, then why not prepare to answer at least a few questions or even one. Of course, the greater the advance preparation the more we will gain from a study. Participation in the study should be our goal. (Gal. 6:7) Since regular meeting attendance and commenting play an important part in our spiritual growth and fortify us for future tests of our integrity, let’s make it our determination to be at all the meetings and encourage others to be present with us.
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Help Others to Attend Meetings.