Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Go Door to Door?

Door to door evangelism is key to Jehovah's Witnesses growth

Why Do Jehovah Witness Go Door to Door?
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Jehovah's Witnesses are best known for their door to door evangelism. But why do they do it? What is behind this unusual method of seeking members?

Jehovah's Witnesses go door to door to people's homes because they believe this method of making disciples is the model Jesus gave the church (Matthew 10:7, 11-13) as well as the example of first-century Christians who spread the Gospel by going "from house to house" (Acts 5:42; 20:20).

Door to Door Evangelism Proves Effective

Jehovah's Witnesses, also known as the Watchtower Society, take very seriously the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 to take the gospel to all the nations:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (ESV)

Based on over a century of experience, Jehovah's Witnesses believe door to door evangelism is the most effective way to do that.

Just as Jesus Christ sent the seventy-two out in pairs (Luke 10:1, NIV), Jehovah's Witnesses travel in pairs. For practical reasons, it protects them against any accusations of impropriety and guards their safety. Having a partner allows one of the Witnesses to look up relevant Bible verses or tracts while the other one is talking. Also, the less experienced member of the pair learns from the veteran Witness in a sort of on-the-job training.

From the Beginning

Jehovah’s Witnesses theology is based on the writings of Charles Taze Russell (1852–1916), the man who founded the Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence magazine in 1879.

Russell taught that Jesus Christ had returned invisibly in 1874 and would establish God’s kingdom visibly in 1914. He also established Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, the precursor to the current Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Russell and his followers began door to door sales and distribution of books, magazines, and other literature, just as Jehovah’s Witnesses do today.

The year 1914 came and went without Russell’s prophecies coming true. After he died in 1916, Russell’s successor was Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942), another prolific writer of books and tracts. Rutherford taught that Christ’s invisible return began, rather than ended, in 1914, and that God’s visible kingdom would come to pass in 1925. As we know, this prophecy also failed. When Rutherford died in 1942, Nathan Knorr replaced him. Knorr is best known for establishing door to door evangelism training programs for Jehovah’s Witnesses and for his New World Translation of the Bible. This translation alters passages that touch on the deity of Christ and is rejected by mainstream Christian scholarship.

A Strategy Based on Repetition

Each Kingdom Hall, or Witness church, is assigned a territory. The strategy is to visit each house in a neighborhood several times a year. Meticulous records are kept of the number of conversations held, questions answered, and tracts distributed.

By one estimate, Witnesses have to visit 740 households to make one convert. By another estimate, one new convert takes 6,500 hours of activity. Needless to say, going door to door is a time-consuming, labor-intensive strategy for growth.

In addition, Jehovah's Witnesses also print and distribute hundreds of millions of pieces of literature a year (including their own New World Translation of the Bible) from their printing plants around the world. According to the Watchtower Society, on the whole, Witnesses spend over one billion hours each year proclaiming their message worldwide, baptizing more than 300,000 new members.

Besides going door to door, other hallmarks of the of Jehovah’s Witnesses are their Kingdom Halls, their vast yearly assemblies and conventions, their belief that only 144,000 people will go to heaven, their refusal to take blood transfusions, enlist in military services, participate in politics, and celebrate any non-Witness holidays. They also reject the traditional Latin cross as a pagan symbol.

Despite intense opposition since its beginning, the Jehovah's Witnesses religion numbers more than 7 million people today, in over 230 countries. Their door to door emphasis has indeed proven effective.

Sources

  • https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/watchtower-society/
  • https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/door-to-door/
  • Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day (pp. 158–159). Bethany House Publishers.