To know if the claims of our opposers are true, it is important to understand how God views decline and prosperity. Those looking for truth will examine it in light of the Bible and disregard the liars who try to contradict it.
Let the Evidence SpeakFirstly, we do not view high membership numbers or financial success as the primary evidence of prosperity. We do believe, however, that those successes can make up a small part of the evidence of God's blessing. But the Bible teaches that Jesus' true followers would number relatively few. (Matthew 7:13,14)
We also teach that what the Bible identifies as false religion has had material success and high religious adherence, yet it is destined to be destroyed by God. (Revelation 17:15,16; 18:11-14) Likewise, we do not view low adherence or financial hardship as the only or primary evidence of decline. The Bible teaches that Jesus and his followers would be hated and persecuted. (Isaiah 53:1-12; John 15:20) Furthermore, the Bible further states that only 8 people survived the Flood of Noah's day, and that only 3 people made it out of Sodom and Gomorrah alive. (1 Peter 3:20; Genesis 19:15)
The Bible makes it clear that Jehovah is not concerned with numbers. The richest and most populous religions are said to be false, while those declaring the truth would be insignificant. (Revelation 17:4,5; Acts 28:22) This means that we need to accept the idea that prosperity and decline from a scriptural standpoint has less to do with pure numbers and tangible details, and more to do with something willfully ignored by our opposers.
See Beyond the NumbersJehovah Himself gave convincing evidence for what would mark true success and prosperity. Through the prophet Amos, he prophesied spiritual famine (or decline) for false worshippers. (Amos 8:11) In contrast, he prophesied spiritual prosperity for his true worshippers. (Isaiah 65:13) Jesus said his true followers would put spiritual things ahead of material success. (Matthew 5:3; 6:33) Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe this? As far back as 1961 and perhaps even further, we have linked prosperity with spiritual things:
Nourished by these grand Bible truths, the united worshipers of Jehovah joyfully bear witness to the ends of the earth, comforting millions with the hope of life in God’s new world. What joy they find in ministering God’s message to others! How strikingly their spiritual prosperity contrasts with the spiritual famine among the sectarian religions of this modern world! 1961 Watchtower p 102. [Emphasis ours]
What does this teach us? That decline is linked with spiritual want, and prosperity is linked with spiritual plenty. There can also be a combination of both membership growth and as a consequence, material growth because of this spiritual plenty. When reading the Bible, we can clearly see this connection. (Micah 4:2-4; Zechariah 8:23)
We can appreciate that a balance is struck here. We cannot take a pure black and white approach to whether or not we are "declining". Opposers who look at Yearbook numbers only are missing the bigger picture. They are missing the fact that we are being more educated in the Bible than we have ever been. That is a sign of prosperity as Jehovah himself promised.
So by our opposers focusing strictly on numbers and finances means they are spiritually blind and either cannot or will not take the Bible into consideration, so they cannot be trusted. Should you listen to such individuals?
Look Through the RainOn a rainy night, you can see the road ahead if you train your eye to look past the raindrops. Likewise, you can clearly see the prosperity of Jehovah's Witnesses if you learn to look past the downpour of lies and dishonesty of our opposers.
Keeping the above in mind, how have Jehovah's Witnesses shown that claims of decline are outright lies? Over the past several years, we have shown convincing evidence of spiritual prosperity.
The Digital InitiativeWe have shown the ability and the willingness to use and stay up-to-date with modern technology throughout our history. Think about the "Photo Drama Of Creation", newspapers, radio, and now the Internet. Each of these initiatives marked a period of spiritual growth for us, and we have no reason to believe the digital age will be any different. How so?
2012 Revised WebsiteIn 2012, we discontinued the Watchtower.org and jw-media.org websites and consolidated them into the website jw.org. This was part of a redesign to make the website more attractive and user-friendly, and a revamping to accommodate growth. For example, in 2013, publications on jw.org were available in 440 languages. Today, publications are made available in 750 languages and counting. This points to spiritual growth in more and more language groups.
2013 JW Library AppThe JW Library app is convenient for mobile devices. It gives users the ability to access information on the go and offline (no internet connection). This app requires significant training and manpower resources to build and maintain, and has been expanded and optimized for use in meeting preparation and participation, as well as for our field ministry. The provision of and demand for the mobile app is strong evidence that we are prospering!
2014 JW BroadcastingOctober 2014 saw the official introduction of the JW Broadcasting internet station and its studio. What makes this a significant endeavor in context of this discussion is the cost needed to design and build the studio, and the cost of hosting the website. Though the exact dollar amount is not disclosed to the public, judging by the quality and professional nature of the studio and station, we can safely assume the cost is significant. In addition, the Monthly Programs contain videos shot on location in various parts of the world. None of this comes cheap. The response to and success of JW Broadcasting has been outstanding.
2016 Regional Convention Videos and MoviesThe 2015 "Imitate Jesus" Regional Convention marked the beginning of video productions having significant use at subsequent Conventions. In 2016, we had a whopping 32 videos shown at Regional Conventions world-wide, with the introduction of two feature-length movies that year. Some may argue that we are "going broke" since we did not make those movies available on DVD, but that makes no sense as an organization "going broke" would not have the financial resources to make two movies at all, let alone cover the cost of DVDs. Video productions both large and small costs money. Besides, the videos are available for online streaming, which also costs money with every stream.
Even more, each Convention site had to be upgraded with state-of-the-art sound and video equipment for the showings, or equipment would need to be rented. The investment was designed to accommodate all the spiritual food coming our way now and in the future.
Ask yourself: If Jehovah's Witnesses are financially declining, how can they afford a brand new studio, digital equipment for conventions and state-of-the art online services?
A New Era in PublicationWhile the digital age reduced the need for some printed publications, Jehovah's Witnesses did not see this as an opportunity to abandon printed material altogether, neither did we see this as a reason to skimp on quality. Just the opposite, we improved the quality on some publications, and introduced an entirely new one to use during our revamped mid-week meeting. Can we see examples of this?
2013 Revised New World TranslationIn 2013, Jehovah's Witnesses introduced the revised New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures at their annual meeting. How is this evidence of prosperity? Nothing draws you closer to Jehovah than reading the Bible, and this is enhanced when the words are modern and easy to understand, so this revision paid immediate dividends spiritually. Not only that, but this attractive Bible is made of high-quality, durable materials so that it can withstand high-usage in our ministry. We can clearly see the spiritual and financial investment in this Bible.
2016 Our Christian Life and MinistryOne of the most significant evidences of prosperity in decades is the revision of our Mid-Week meeting, formerly known as the Theocratic Ministry School and Service Meeting, now known as Our Christian Life and Ministry. Why can we say that? Firstly, something as insignificant as the amount of colors used in the printing of Our Kingdom Ministry led opposers to assume that we could no longer afford to print in more than two colors. Then in October 2015, it was announced that we would replace the Kingdom Ministry with fully-colored and illustrated Workbooks as part of the new Mid-Week meeting. In addition, new videos introducing all 66 books of the Bible are being created to be used at this meeting. This new meeting and material would come at an additional cost to the organization.
2016 New Song BookBesides these things, a new song book has been produced using the same durable materials used in the production of the 2013 NWT. Granted, we hope many members will rely upon the JW Library app for their songs, we would still ask the same thing even if the song book were in paperback. In other words, we did not have to produce it with a durable cover, but our surplus allowed us to.
2017 Warwick HeadquartersOur brand new world Headquarters will be officially open to public tours beginning on April 3, 2017. It was completed 6 months ahead of schedule. And if you did not already know, these tours are free of charge! Think about that. Why aren't we charging? Are we not "declining" and are in desperate need of cash? This is what apostates want you to believe. But the organization can justify charging non-Witnesses for guided tours, but they are not. (Matthew 10:8) Sure, we sold our Brooklyn properties which helped fund the new building, but ask yourself: Would a declining organization sell properties so to fund building new ones? Would it not simply pocket the money from the sales and stay put?
Ask yourself: Is brand-new high-quality printed material and state-of-the-art world headquarters evidence of decline?
The Meaning of ReductionsIt is not lost on us here at Opposers Dismythed that the organization has reduced unnecessary expenses recently, such as reducing the amount of members serving at Bethel, the amount of printed literature, and even the construction of various Branch Offices, which is explained here.
However, the above adjustments and changes prove that far from declining, we are prospering spiritually and being even more fiscally responsible. Redirecting funds to where they are most needed has always been a concern for the organization. This is seen in the spiritual provisions being made available such as:
- Simplified Bible Teach book
- Witnessing carts for Metropolitan Witnessing
- Building of redesigned Kingdom Halls
- Spiritual movie productions
So What about Those Numbers?Jehovah's Witnesses publish their membership numbers every year, whether or not there is growth, so we have no interests in keeping our numbers hidden. Does moderate or sharp reductions in baptisms indicate actual "decline"? No, because in the face of any membership decline, we have shown steady overall growth over the past 15 years or so.
For example, by the end of the 1999 service year, there were almost 6 million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide. By the end of the 2016 service year, there were 8.3 million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide. That averages about 153,000 new baptisms a year during that time frame. Declining memberships would show steady decreases, not increases, would they not?
What is the point? That overall growth even from a pure numbers standpoint debunk lies of decline. Look at most Christian religions worldwide. They have been steadily declining in number since the turn of the 20th century and that will continue.
So from a pure overall growth standpoint, and especially from a spiritual standpoint, we are growing and that does not appear to be slowing down. Even if our numbers take a hit, we are trending upward. We recognize that spiritual food is needed to accommodate our growth, we are thus naturally prospering spiritually as a result.
What do you think: Are Jehovah's Witnesses declining?