◼ What is the proper use of the terms “brother” and “sister”?
When used in a literal sense, the terms “brother” and “sister” refer to individuals who have the same parents. This natural relationship usually creates a warm attachment, and the closeness these individuals experience is further enhanced by social, environmental, and emotional ties.
Jesus taught his disciples to address Jehovah in prayer as “Our Father.” The use of that expression implies that as Christians, we are all part of a close family circle where we enjoy a rich spiritual relationship. This was further emphasized by Jesus when he told his followers that “all you are brothers.”—Matt. 6:9; 23:8.
Because of our close spiritual ties within God’s household, we address one another as “Brother” and “Sister,” particularly at congregation meetings. During these spiritual occasions, the one presiding over the meeting recognizes baptized individuals by using the expression “brother” or “sister” followed by the last name of the person being addressed.
What if an unbaptized person wishes to participate in the meetings? When a person has been associated with Jehovah’s people for some time and is approaching dedication, considering himself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there would be no objection to prefacing the last name with “Brother” or “Sister.” This would especially be true if the individual has become an unbaptized publisher.
On the other hand, interested persons who have only recently begun to attend our meetings have not yet taken the steps that would identify them as part of God’s household. These individuals would not be addressed as “Brother” or “Sister,” since the spiritual relationship of God’s family does not exist in their case. So during the meetings, we would address them more formally, using an appropriate title such as “Mr.” with their last name.
Using the expressions “brother” and “sister” at our congregation meetings indicates a bond that is far closer and more precious than any indicated by the use of first names. It reminds us of the very blessed relationship we enjoy as a spiritual family under the one Father, Jehovah God. We are also reminded of the deep love and affection we have for one another.—Eph. 2:19; 1 Pet. 3:8.