● What action should the congregation take with regard to unbaptized associates who fall into serious wrongdoing?
The Organization book, page 174, shows that unbaptized wrongdoers who have been regularly associating with the congregation may be disciplined in a way similar to the way baptized wrongdoers are handled. Some have asked, What is meant by “regularly associating”?
These are not newly associated persons who are studying and who still have their worldly ways. Rather, the persons referred to as “regularly associating” are those who have made some progress in the way of truth and who have been attending meetings regularly over a period of time. Usually they have been sharing in field service, are enrolled in the School, and have come to be regarded by others as being Jehovah’s witnesses.
If such an unbaptized associate falls into serious wrongdoing, the elders should talk to him about what is said in the Organization book, pages 128, 129. If after that he is still unrepentant, in spite of repeated efforts of the elders to help him with his problem, then the congregation and its members must be protected from the danger of contamination, in harmony with Paul’s counsel at Galatians 5:9. Announcement should be made that his conduct is “unbecoming a Christian,” and that for anyone to continue associating with him would not be in harmony with the counsel of 1 Corinthians 15:33. He will be denied the privilege of giving student talks, participating in demonstrations from the platform, etc. No field service reports would be accepted from such a person. In the event the elders later are satisfied that this person shows fruits of repentance, it would be proper to announce that the restrictions on him have been lifted. With the elders taking the initiative, the congregation can then continue giving loving aid with the view of helping the repentant one along the way to life.
There may be others, not yet “regularly associating,” who are studying and starting to attend meetings, but who are still contaminated with worldly uncleanness. Of course, no action needs to be taken against these, but they should be encouraged to lake steps to clean up their lives. Only when they have done this should they be invited to accompany the publishers in the field service, share in presentations from the platform, etc. (See Organization book, pages 128, 129.) It is our hope that, as they study and apply God’s Word, they will be motivated to make the necessary changes to become acceptable to Jehovah.