It gives an insight into the way that the Society change policy so easily and wrap it up as new light instead of just an administrative decision. What was looked upon as a very serious issue and an indication that you were not a loyal member of the Society - not regularly coming to the Book (sorry Bible) Study - is now not an issue at all. In fact they will have put three meetings together and they will be 75 mins than the 3 individual ones used to be.
Maybe it shows that Jehovah Witnesses were not attending as many meetings as they should or that because they were attending the meetings it was was affecting the reaching out on the doors.
Reading it though I cringed when they say they are fully aware of the mounting pressure on YOU precious sheep. Really? Then why are they still putting so many non-Biblical 'musts' upon them and disfellowshipping them when they cannot give up smoking or want to save a life by giving blood? At such time they are no longer precious sheep to be followed an to ensure the one lost one returns safely, being carried by the shepherd; instead of being kicked out into the wilderness and left to the wolves!
However, please note that this does not come into action for another 7 months; they can't be that concerned to make them carry on for that time. Also see that they are piling on the pressure of 'family heads' maybe because so many family members are leaving and they have to put the responsibility somewhere and anywhere other than the leadership.
Maybe I am making too much of this but I do get angry with these elderly men in their 'watch towers' piling pressure on the flock the very thing we are told not to do. When will we get true shepherding in the Society?
"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of
the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be
revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not
under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for
sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted
to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock." - 1 Peter 5:1-3.
At 1st Corinthians 7:31 the bible tells us that “the scene of this world is changing.” The truthfulness of these inspired words is felt by each of us on a daily basis. As we draw ever nearer to the Great Tribulation Satan’s anger against us is intensifying.
The Governing Body is fully aware of the mounting pressures that YOU, the Lord’s precious sheep, are experiencing. Like the first century Governing Body we wish to add no further burden to you, except what is necessary. Therefore, after prayerful consideration we have decided to take steps to lighten your load by adjusting the weekly schedule for congregation meetings.
Commencing January 1, 2009 the Congregation Book Study will be held at the same time as the Theocratic Ministry School and the Service Meeting. The name of the Congregation Book Study will be changed to the Congregation Bible Study. After a song and prayer the Congregation Bible Study will be conducted for 25 minutes in much the same way as it is conducted now. Qualified elders will conduct the study on a rotation basis. It will be followed by a 30 minute Theocratic Ministry School. After another song there will be a 35 minute Service Meeting. The three meetings will conclude with song and prayer. The total time for these three meetings including songs and prayers will be 1 hour and 45 minutes.
We will continue to follow the same patterns for meetings for field service including arrangements in smaller groups. In time you will receive further information relative to the Congregation Bible Study and meetings for field service.
This adjustment in our weekly meeting schedule will be beneficial in many ways. For example, in many lands the cost of fuel is escalating, and much time is expended in travelling to and from congregation meetings. However, there will be even greater benefit!
The importance of personal and family bible study cannot be overemphasized. This adjustment in our weekly schedule will provide each of us with an opportunity to fortify the spirituality of our families by scheduling a specific evening each week for family worship. Family heads must shoulder the responsibility before Jehovah to ensure that a meaningful, regular, family bible study is conducted. Single brothers and sisters with no family responsibilities will be able to use this time for personal bible study.
It is vital for all to buy out the opportune time and to strengthen themselves for what will shortly take place. The “great day of Jehovah” is fast approaching. How urgent it is for all of us to seize and use the time remaining to build ourselves up in this most holy faith! May we be determined to benefit from these adjustments as we continue to follow our Great Shepherd who leads us to grassy pastures of peace and refreshment. We send along an expression of our warm Christian love, praying that Jehovah will continue to watch over you and strengthen you in these difficult times.
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses