1984 “Kingdom Increase” District Convention
In writing to the congregation of Thessalonica, the apostle Paul entreated fellow believers to pray for him and his companion workers “that the word of Jehovah may keep moving speedily and being glorified.” (2 Thess. 3:1) Like the first-century Christians, it is our earnest desire that Bible truths continue to influence honest-hearted people and move them to embrace “the word of Jehovah.” This is happening today. Many have escaped from satanic influence and have sought refuge in Jehovah’s theocratic organization. We rejoice that 161,896 such honest-hearted ones were baptized during the last service year. And 6,767,707 attended the Memorial in 1983. How thrilling! Yes, there is every reason to believe that Jehovah will bless us with further increase before the conclusion of this system. (Isa. 60:22) How appropriate then is the theme “Kingdom Increase” for the 1984 district conventions.
The nation of Israel regularly assembled in worship of Jehovah. During such gatherings they learned more about their God. This is reflected in the words of Deuteronomy 31:12: “Congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones . . . in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn, as they must fear Jehovah.” Our purpose in assembling is the same. We want to listen and learn about Jehovah. That is why we, as worshipers of Jehovah, along with other interested persons are looking forward with keen anticipation to the “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions.
Attending will take time and money. But the returns will be of far greater value. (Eph. 5:15-17) No doubt many have fond memories of past conventions, recalling the love and unity that marked such occasions. What a blessing it will be once again to take full advantage of the opportunity to incite one another “to love and fine works.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) Your determination to attend, coupled with careful planning, will enable you to share this occasion with the increasing throngs now rendering praise to our God, Jehovah.
ATTEND ALL FOUR DAYS: Do not miss even a portion of the theocratic meal served by “the faithful and discreet slave,” from the opening session on Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. until the concluding prayer on Sunday afternoon. Of course, this may require some adjustments in your work schedule, but you can be confident that Jehovah will richly bless your efforts. With faith in Jehovah, make arrangements to attend all four days.
Endeavor to arrive early for each session. This will afford you the opportunity to enjoy the “interchange of encouragement” that comes when congregating with fellow Christians. (Rom. 1:12) Careful planning and foresight will help you to arrive before the session starts and thus avoid distracting others. Sadly, some are habitual latecomers. This is disrespectful and may indicate a lack of proper regard for spiritual things. Of course, on occasion, problems may arise that will prevent us from being on time. But Christian love and consideration will prompt us to make every effort possible to start out early enough each day so that we do not miss any part of the program.
The insert in Our Kingdom Ministry for January 1984 provided helpful information about rooming accommodations and listed the convention dates and locations. Once again we ask your cooperation in attending the convention to which your circuit is assigned. The Society has done considerable planning and work to see that sufficient seating, literature, food, and so forth, are provided for everyone. Some may understandably be faced with extenuating circumstances, such as prearranged vacation dates that cannot be changed or the need to assist relatives living in another area. However, if a concerted effort is made to cooperate with the suggestions given, good success will result and overcrowding will be prevented.
WHY BE IN ATTENDANCE: Each year we look forward with eager anticipation to being present at the district convention. But why is this event such a highlight for us? Because it affords the opportunity to “listen and take in more instruction.” (Prov. 1:5) We also find enjoyment in being with a large group of our brothers, renewing old friendships and sharing experiences. However, never let us forget that our main reason for attending is to receive instruction from Jehovah.—Ezek. 34:14, 15.
Some positive reports have been received regarding improvements in our attentiveness at the convention. From one convention city came the report: “All sat quietly listening, and practically none were moving around during the program.” From a city in the Middle West the conventioners were described as “a most respectful and courteous audience, getting to their seats on request and paying rapt attention. . . . It was clear that the brothers appreciated the purpose of the convention.” And from another came this comment: “Outstanding was the attentiveness of the audience. . . . The opening talks had an excellent effect on their paying attention.”
This was not true in all cases though. One stadium worker was overheard saying to one of our younger brothers, ‘You don’t seem to be respecting the program because I see you walking around here all the time.’ So we still need to give some attention to the primary reason we attend the conventions each year.
Imagine being invited to someone’s house for dinner and you know a sumptuous feast will be served. As you travel to the house you are eagerly anticipating the many tasty dishes that are sure to be served. Upon arriving and entering the house, would you then ignore the food and occupy yourself with touring around the house and surrounding area, chatting with fellow guests while eating little, if any, of the meal? How inconsiderate and foolish that would be. And yet that, in effect, is how some act toward the yearly spiritual feast to which we have been invited by the Great Provider of all good things, Jehovah God.
Admittedly it may not be easy for some to sit for extended periods and concentrate on a steady flow of Scriptural instruction. You may feel tired or have active children to care for. You may at times encounter other noises and distractions that could draw your attention away from the information coming from the platform. There is also the danger of letting your mind drift to other thoughts and concerns. What can be done? Concentration and active listening are essential. Jesus advised: “Pay attention to how you listen.” (Luke 8:18) This takes effort and self-control. Some have got involved in conversing with others during the sessions. But would this not be disrespectful of Jehovah’s provision? Jehovah told Job when instructing him: “Listen to me! Keep silent.” (Job 33:31, 33) So likewise, could we not apply this same counsel to ourselves while the convention program is in progress?
Do not make the mistake of concluding that you do not have to concentrate too intensely, assuming that the material will all come out in The Watchtower anyway. Some of the talks may be printed later in The Watchtower, but this is not the case with all of them. Valuable information will be lost if, at the time it is presented, it is not absorbed through careful listening and moderate note-taking. A particular talk may not contain new material but will present a Scriptural thought from a different angle. Or the material may refine our understanding of a certain scripture and enhance our appreciation of a familiar subject.
The taking of notes, if done selectively, can help us to retain the material. This is true even if the notes are not consulted at some future time. Accordingly, you will want to take along a note pad and use it. There is not enough room on the back of the convention program to take notes on all the information presented.
An article in Human Behavior magazine related an experiment conducted at the University of New Mexico that confirms the value of note-taking. Two researchers asked 83 students to listen to a lecture. Some took notes on the lecture, and some were handed notes prepared by the lecturer at the conclusion of the lecture. A third group had no notes at all. After a ten-minute review they were tested. The students who took their own notes scored highest. Taking notes helps to keep your mind active and impresses the information more deeply on heart and mind. Note-taking helps to block out disturbances.
The introduction to study 5 of the Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook makes this important statement: “Your progress as a minister of Jehovah is dependent to a considerable extent on how you listen.” Listening with the object of gaining knowledge is an art, a skill that can be developed. Why not practice being an alert listener, one who hears with thoughtful attention, so that you will gain the most benefit from the four-day “Kingdom Increase” District Convention soon to start in your area? It will probably cost you both time and money to be in attendance, so try to gain the greatest benefit from your investment by intently listening to all that is said.
FINE CONDUCT: At one time or another have you not been favorably impressed by the conduct of fellow Witnesses in contrast with that of people in general? It may have been their kindness and patience while waiting in line, their consideration of others in traffic, the chastity and modesty reflected by their dress and grooming, the genuine respect shown parents and other older ones, the loving and persistent training of youth, or the kind expressions of appreciation for services rendered. Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses stand out as being different from worldly people, and last year many favorable comments were made about our conduct at conventions. One local resident living next to a large sports complex noted the difference between gatherings held by Jehovah’s Witnesses and various other events. After relating how litter and traffic jams characterized a loud rock concert, he said: “Almost all events in the dome have created problems. The only event that did not was the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention.” A general manager of another stadium volunteered this comment: “Of all the many types and sizes of crowds attending events at the stadium, your group has been by far the cleanest, best behaved and most cooperative.” Still others tell of the cooperative and caring spirit shown by our brothers and sisters at the conventions. It is pleasing to receive such fine commendation from onlookers, is it not? But more importantly, our conduct reflects favorably upon our Christian training and brings honor to God’s name.—1 Pet. 1:15, 16.
Nevertheless, we would be remiss if some areas needing improvement were not here mentioned. The matter of conduct while staying in motels or hotels is one of them. We are still receiving reports that indicate a need to give closer attention to our conduct and that of our children. Some managers still complain that children and teenagers are noisy and unruly, being unsupervised by their parents while using the swimming pool and other facilities. Additionally some brothers have broken rules in regard to cooking in rooms. Some motel owners tell us this is a common abuse of their facilities. Not only have they had the rooms physically damaged, but the lingering odors prevented them from renting the rooms for days or weeks afterward. Unless the cooking of food is specifically permitted, it should not be done. A real effort should be made to cooperate fully with the management. Certainly we do not want to leave an unfavorable opinion of Jehovah’s people. Whether at the convention site or while staying at the various motels or hotels, we should at all times reflect righteous standards.
A few reminders about dress and grooming would also be appropriate at this time. Frequently the buildings chosen for our district conventions are normally used for sports and recreational purposes. But we are there for a much higher purpose, to worship Jehovah and learn of better ways to serve him. It is often true that a person will act and think in accord with how he is dressed. If we are dressed casually, as at a picnic or an outing, is it not quite possible that this will have some influence on our conduct and attentiveness? Some conventions have reported that the dress and grooming of some are not what you would expect to find at a gathering for the lofty purpose of worshiping the Most High. Good Scriptural counsel that covers the matters of cleanness, dress and grooming can be found on pages 130, 131, 135 and 136 of the Our Ministry book. We should always strive to “do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) It would be helpful to review the May 1981 Our Kingdom Service insert for additional reminders.
Another area that continues to need attention is the excessive saving of seats. Various approaches have been made to deal with this problem, but nothing substitutes for the basic Christian quality of love. Love will prevent us from being inattentive to the needs of the elderly, infirm and all others. (Luke 6:31) Also, there are times when, due to unforeseen developments, more attend a convention than anticipated, and overcrowding results. Whenever there is a measure of neglect or thoughtlessness on the part of someone, others are inconvenienced or distracted from the real purpose for our being assembled. When the attendants are instructed to remove personal belongings from unoccupied seats, is your reaction one of irritation or anger? How we react to such situations may indicate to what extent our Christian personality has been developed. Remember that many attending the conventions are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is compelling reason, then, to ‘maintain our conduct fine among the nations’ to prevent others from being stumbled.—1 Pet. 2:12; Matt. 18:6.
We have been informed that in many states baby strollers may not be used in places of public assembly. Fire regulations prohibit parking them in aisles, rows and corridors. Since large crowds may cause congested conditions, baby strollers are dangerous, not only to the baby but also to any who may trip or stumble over them. However, car or infant seats are permissible, since these can be placed in seats next to the parents. Your cooperation in this matter will be appreciated.
FIELD SERVICE ARRANGEMENTS: Field service has long been a special feature of our summer conventions. During the 1922 Cedar Point convention a “Service Day” was set aside for a special effort in the field. This year, too, all are urged to make plans to share in the ministry. Friday afternoon has been set aside for that purpose. Can you have a share? The program is scheduled to conclude around 3:00 p.m. Be sure to make your arrangements for territory or to be included in a group having territory before the Friday afternoon session begins. It would also be the course of practical wisdom for the group captain to learn the route to the territory at the time the territory card is obtained so as not to lose time in locating the territory on Friday afternoon. Magazines, literature and other needed supplies should be brought with you from your congregation.
VOLUNTEER SERVICE: “This assembly has been most unbelievable. I cannot believe that you people can get so much work done with untrained volunteers. It has made quite an impression on us.” This was the comment made by one assistant stadium manager last year at the conclusion of the convention held in his city. Of course, our reason for volunteering to work is to serve our brothers and help make the convention a success. Some may recall in years past that much of the program was missed by volunteers because they worked even during convention sessions. Now, however, the various departments are organized in such a way that those volunteering their services should be able to hear most, if not all, of the program.
Why not give some thought now to volunteering to help for a few hours in one of the convention departments? Maybe you can do this as a family or with others from your congregation. As has been true in the past, volunteers need to be at least 16 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or another responsible adult volunteer.
FOOD NEEDS: Special arrangements are being made to care for our physical needs. Provisions for food and drink will be similar to what has been available at district conventions in recent years. Are we not grateful for the loving labors of our brothers and sisters who work hard in serving us?
Convention tickets will be available at the cost of $1.00 per sheet of ten. It is suggested that you purchase these in advance through your congregation. Purchase enough tickets to supply your family’s food needs for the first two or three days of the convention.
What a joy it will be to assemble with our brothers and interested persons to take in accurate knowledge of Jehovah at the “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions. Will you be among the hundreds of thousands in attendance this year? Hopefully the information presented herein will help you to finalize your plans.
Jehovah is speeding up the Kingdom work, and as the increase continues worldwide, it should be our sincere desire to help these sheeplike ones to advance to maturity. The “Kingdom Increase” District Conventions will better equip us for this important work, while strengthening our resolve to serve God wholeheartedly. Let it be our prayer “that the word of Jehovah may keep moving speedily and being glorified,” all to his praise.—2 Thess. 3:1.
[Box on page 6]
District Convention Reminders
ROOMING: Your cooperation in using the listing of accommodations provided by the convention in selecting your rooms is very much appreciated. If you have not already made a reservation and forwarded a deposit, it is necessary to do so immediately if you are planning to stay overnight in the convention city. Congregation convention coordinators should be sure that Special Needs Room Request Forms have been promptly forwarded to the appropriate convention address. If you find it necessary to cancel your accommodations selected from the listing, you should write or phone the hotel/motel directly, doing so as far in advance as possible. If you must cancel an accommodation made through the special needs arrangement, you should notify both the landlord or hotel/motel and the convention Rooming Department so that the room may be reassigned.
The convention Rooming Department will provide, upon your request, available information on any commercial trailer or camping facilities in the convention area. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request.
BAPTISM: At most locations, the talk for baptismal candidates will be on Saturday morning. Those who wish to symbolize their dedication by water baptism should have reviewed the questions with elders in their congregation prior to the convention. A modest bathing suit and a towel should be brought by each one who plans to be baptized.
PROGRAM TIMES: It is the course of wisdom and shows appreciation to be in our seats when the program begins. That will be 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, 9:30 a.m. on Friday and 9:40 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at most conventions. The same fine qualities are displayed when we do not plan to leave before the sessions conclude. The closing song and prayer will be at 5:10 p.m. on Thursday. Friday afternoon will be set aside for a special effort in field service, following the closing song and prayer at 3:00 p.m. On Saturday the closing song and prayer are scheduled at 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 4:10 p.m.
BETHEL AND GILEAD MEETINGS: A meeting will be held on Friday for pioneers between the ages of 20 and 40 who are interested in attending Gilead School to receive training for missionary service. There will be a meeting on Saturday for any dedicated publishers between 19 and 35 years of age who are U.S. residents and who would like to enter Bethel service. Check the program at the convention city for the exact times and locations of these meetings.
PIONEER IDENTIFICATION: All regular and special pioneers as well as traveling overseers will need to bring their Watchtower Identification and Assignment card (S-202) to the convention. Those on the list for six months at the time of the district convention they attend may receive $15 worth of convention tickets upon presentation of their Watchtower ID card at that one convention only. Treat the card as carefully as cash. It cannot be replaced at the convention. Any free releases or other literature at pioneer rates will be available to pioneers at the bookroom only, upon showing their Watchtower ID card. Those in Bethel service may obtain any free releases or other literature at pioneer rates at the bookroom by showing their Bethel ID card.
LAPEL CARDS: These cards are provided as a means of advertising the convention as well as to facilitate identifying our brothers and sisters in attendance. To this end, please wear the specially designed lapel card at the convention and also while traveling to and from the convention site. Not only is the card a fine means of identification, but it so often results in giving a fine witness while traveling. You should obtain these through your congregation as they will not be available at the conventions. The lapel cards are 1c each and the plastic holders are 10c each. (Lapel cards have already been consigned to each congregation by the Society, but the plastic holders must be ordered by the congregation.)
A WORD OF CAUTION: Regardless of where you park, you should lock your vehicle at all times and never leave anything visible inside. Keep your belongings locked inside the trunk, if possible. Also, guard against thieves and pickpockets who are attracted by large gatherings. This includes not leaving anything of value unattended on seats at the conventions. Additionally, it has been reported that there is a greater risk of falls on stairs and ramps when sisters are wearing high-heeled shoes.