Part V—Congregation Meetings: Benefiting from Public Talks
1 Were you in attendance when the first organized series of public talks, as we know them, began in January of 1945? There were only about 65,000 publishers in the United States in those days. Now, 36 years and 485,000 more publishers later, we can look back and say that the public talks have been of much benefit. They have definitely played their part in introducing many thousands of us to the truth and strengthening the faith of us all.
2 Perhaps the ones who have benefited most from the public talks are the speakers themselves. Why so? When enlarging on the fine outlines provided them, they have had to research the Bible and the Society’s publications to make the talks instructive and interesting. Their research has broadened their understanding of the Scriptures and has caused their faith to be made more firm.
3 In delivering their talks, the speakers endeavor to copy Jesus, the greatest public speaker of all times. He spoke with authority, also with kindness and love, so that the heart of the receptive hearers was moved to respond favorably. (Matt. 7:29) Even opposers said of him, “Never has another man spoken like this.” (John 7:46) His talks were outstanding due to the fact that he expressed his Father’s thoughts and principles with simplicity, conviction and understanding. He motivated people to act. (Matt. 7:28; 22:46) He appealed to all segments of his audience—people young and old, from all walks of life—using illustrations that they understood. (Matt. 13:3-9, 34, 35, 45-48) He aimed his message at the heart of his listeners, using penetrating questions to cause them to think, search their motives, arrive at their own conclusions and make decisions.—Matt. 16:5-16; 17:24-27; 26:52-54.
4 When speakers deliver their well-researched material in a manner like Jesus, the audience cannot do otherwise than benefit. But how can the audience get the most out of the talk? It is important to pay attention to what is being said, not allowing one’s mind to wander. Looking up the scriptures and reading them along with the speaker is one way to stay alert. Some try to recall what the scripture states even before the speaker reads it. Taking a few notes helps too, because thereby one repeats on paper what was heard, making a double impression.
5 Many who have listened carefully to public talks have been moved to make changes in their lives. After a recent talk a sister said, “At last I see why it is so important for me to be more kind and thoughtful in dealing with my family.” What the speaker said reached the heart and changes were made. This emphasizes the benefit of repetition of Scriptural counsel from week to week.—John 13:17.
WHAT BENEFITS LIE AHEAD
6 In March we will be starting a new series of 60 public talks. We can look forward to hearing such subjects as “Bearing Up Under Persecution,” “What Is Behind the Spirit of Rebellion?” and “Is the Truth Transforming Your Life?” While some of the talk titles may sound familiar, the outlines have been brought up to date.
7 Those who are assigned these new talks will want to prepare well so that the material used will be informative and practical. Speakers should be enthusiastic, endeavoring to teach, encourage and motivate others. Their talks should be just 45 minutes in length. All of us will want to attend and benefit from these public talks, demonstrating that we fully appreciate being taught by Jehovah.—John 6:45.