Not long ago we at UKPC made an article on how an EX Jehovahs Witness can find a church. What I wanted to do though in this blog post is actually highlight reasons as to WHY and EX Jehovahs Witness struggles with settling in a church. A lot of this is because it is how Church is portrayed when you are a Jehovah Witness. Under each point I have included some help and advice to both the EX Jehovahs Witness and you the Christian who may have a EX Jehovahs Witness step in your church.
“Ever since you stepped foot in a kingdom hall, Christian churches have been demonised”.
When I was growing up everything was from the devil, from singing the national anthem to celebrating birthdays. Most EX Jehovahs Witnesses struggle when it comes to the first time they celebrate their birthday (I know for me it was at least 3 years after leave that I actually started!!). I remember all the pictures you have when you when you are a child….. showing Jehovahs destroying the churches and how they have lied to their church about things like the trinity and of course Christians apparently worship the cross!
Now of course none these things are true for the true born again Christian, but it is pressed so hard Jehovahs Witnesses it is so hard to forget.
I know when I was a kid, my school teacher sadly past away as a result of cancer and I pleaded with my Dad to go his funeral as I was close to him – my Dad thankfully let me go, but I remember at the time it feeling very strange to see these wooden benches and seeing the vicar in his robes!
Particularly if you are walking into a “church” building it is so un-comfortable for a EX Jehovahs Witness, as this would be a disfellowshipping offense if you were ever caught. It feels so rebellious even if you have been out for a number of years.
“… the clergy of Christendom have been the most prominent members of Satan’s seed.” Revelation Its Grand Climax At Hand! p.30
“Brother Rutherford released the tan-colored book Enemies. It denounced false religion as “a great enemy, always working injury to mankind.” False religionists were identified as “agents of the Devil, whether they are aware of that fact or not.” When presenting the book to the audience, Brother Rutherford said: “You will notice that its cover is tan, and we will tan the old lady’s hide with it.” To this the audience gave loud and enthusiastic approval.” Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom p.84
“No one looking at the fruits of the third of the world occupied by Christendom can deny that she is groping in gross spiritual darkness. She is most blameworthy, for she claims to be Christian. Hence, it is only proper that the fourth angel should trumpet the fact that Christendom’s “light” is, in fact, darkness, and her sources of “light” are Babylonish-non-Christian.” Revelation Its Grand Climax At Hand! p.140
I can not emphasize enough just how much this is pressed on the members, and this is why it is so hard for them to even set foot in a church.
My advice to the EX Jehovahs Witness is don’t be afraid, a demon isn’t going to posses you if you walk in another church! Remember you left the Jehovahs Witnesses they don’t (or at least shouldn’t) have a say on what you do with your life – look at other ideas, some of these churches contain some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
My advice if an EX Jehovahs Witness comes in to your church. Make friends with them, but don’t instantly pressure them in to praying over them, speaking in tongues, or try to pressure them in to coming every week. Let them know you are there for them and give them your details to meet up outside of church. They likely will be in rough place right now and the best thing you can do is be kind to them, any of the other stuff…they are just going to find weird and if you start speaking in tongues, they will likely think you are possessed!
“I want my Freedom”
Your saved, your born again, Christ now lives within….thanks Lord see you when you return. – Does it work like that?
Salvation comes through Jesus and him alone…
(John 14:6, I am the way and the truth and the life, no comes to the Father but through me).
But now you are his and yes you are free from sin as you have been forgiven and you are no longer guilty has Jesus has paid your fine….but now if you truly are saved you become his slave.
(1 Corinthians 7:22, For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.)
This means we should be at least be trying to uphold the things laid out in scripture and whether you like it or not the bible does tell us we need to be in a fellowship.
(Romans 6:18, You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.)
You may use the scripture where 2 or more are gathered, and use the excuse – “my wife and I just study at home”. I beg of you please don’t use this a cop out to not follow the verses particularly in Paul’s letters that talk about being a member or church, proper eldership arrangement and how the church should operate. Your free in Christ, you’re not free just disobey him willy nilly!
My advice to the EX Jehovahs Witness. You are born again, you belong to Jesus – you are free, but we should now be committed to our Lord – even if we fail. Get yourself in a good fellowship and stick to it!
My advice if an EX Jehovahs Witness comes in to your church. When you are a Jehovahs Witness you are so suppressed with the rules, 5 meetings a week, you must put a suit on for church, you must do a certain amount of hours on the ministry etc. Talk to them about the grace of God and how amazing Jesus is, don’t push them to early to be committed to your fellowship..even though that is what they need, just make sure they know they are welcome any time.
“Everyone seems to disagree in the Christian church”
Methodists, Anglicans, Baptists, None Denominational, New Frontiers, New life, Salvation Army, COE….why so many churches?
King James, ESV, ASV, NIV, Jerusalem Bible, Phillips translation, Good news bible…why so many bible translations?
Calvinists, Armenian’s, once saved always, pre-trib rapture ….why so many different ideas?
Modern hymns, traditional hymns…..why so many different ways of worship?
I know right…wasn’t it easier when you are a Jehovahs Witness? Everyone must believe in EVERYTHING the organisation says. They change the doctrines regarding the blood issue, you follow, they tell you must wear a tie to the meetings, you follow, they say you shun ex Jehovahs Witness members, you follow….can you not see the issue here? You have no room at all to disagree. Why do you have so many churches? You will find that most of the churches I have mentioned here all follow pretty much the same core doctrines, but they may have a different idea of how church works. For example a lot of Pentecostal churches are big on worship and often will spend a log time in praise and worship, with only a small sermon. Generally you find an Anglican church is a bit more conservative and traditional. Does it mean that one is false and one is one is true? Not necessary they may just have slightly different views on secondary issues…they wouldn’t call someone “not a Christian” just (for example) if they decided to play a modern version of amazing grace as opposed to the original.
Is this any different to the bible? Not at all! In Acts 15:36-41 we hear about how Paul and Barnibas actually had to split because of how they disagreed. Did this mean that one of them was not faithful? No
They just had a different view :-
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
In the Christian church, you can challenge, you can disagree, and you can have different view and no one is going to kick you out for having a slightly different view.
It is isn’t that Christians disagree on everything, but how can you accept that in the in-perfect world will live in, we can find a church that agrees with 100% of what we do?
My advice to an EX Jehovahs Witness. There are not as many good churches as their used to be. But there are plenty still around. My advice would be looking at the faith statement on the churches website and go if they look to be bible believing. Accept that not everyone will agree with 100% of the time and be prepared to change your view and be open to change your mind if thoughts are brought to you that are bible based.
My advice if an EX Jehovahs Witness comes in to your church. Remember they are not going to be used to people disagreeing with each other. Tell them about the various churches you have gone to, show them that although we may disagree we are united as one in Christ.
“I only know people in the local church I can walk in ANY kingdom hall anywhere in the world and make friends”.
This is true, but the truth is – the only reason why Jehovahs Witnesses are your friends is because you are a Jehovahs Witness. Having been a Jehovahs Witness I know that you have association in abundance – but often you have association with people just on the grounds they are Jehovahs Witnesses. It works a lot different in a Christian church, un-like a kingdom it is not just the case of walking in and everyone wanting to be your best mate. The reason is that when you come into a church people want you to find Christ – they won’t try to love you into the kingdom like Jehovahs Witnesses will. What is your reason for going to church? Is it to make friends or because you want to learn from God? You know the more I think about the honest reason I went to a kingdom hall the more I release that I was only their 1) because I have to be and 2) was a bit of a social meet up.
My advice to an EX Jehovahs Witness. Don’t expect that you are going to walk into a church and you are going to make friends – and this should not be the reason you go to church. What about that non- Jehovahs Witness family that you never used to see? Once you step out the bubble of JW.ORG its scary because of the amount of people there are that are not Jehovahs Witnesses, it can be hard to let your guard down. But trust me, nice people outside the Jehovahs Witnesses do exist.
My advice if an EX Jehovahs Witness comes in to your church. They will likely have their guard up, but underneath they will be crying out for some friendship and help. You don’t want to be too over the top with them – but make sure that you are friendly with them, get them to share their story – let them know about some social events and invite them.
“I have been hurt by leaders I don’t want to again”.
This is one of the biggest reasons as to why they struggle to find a church, its accepting that there is a proper biblical structure in the church.
(Titus 1:5-9) For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
(1 Timothy 3:1-7) It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
It is a well know fact though that sadly a lot of Jehovahs Witness Elders abuse their position. You are constantly beaten down mentally when you are a Jehovahs Witness. Once a month they came to do a “shepherding visit” which essentially was a day that they used to come and by all accounts make sure you are doing enough. On many occasions I used to have to go to the back room for a telling off, here are just a few.
· Not wearing a jacket when operating the microphone.
· Because on one occasion I had not reported that I had been on door to door ministry.
· They found out I had been playing five a side football.
· They found out I was friends with a Catholic school friend.
· To tell me off because I had a watched a live band.
· When I was 16 I was friends with a girl from another congregation.
· My bible was sitting on the rostrum as opposed to being in my hand (this is while I was at the front giving a bible reading).
· I missed about 4 meetings in 2 months due to work commitments.
These are just a few of many! These people truly are modern day Pharisees! They would come down hard for things like this, but the threat of disfellowshipping was only ever one sin away. So if you ever was to slip into to sin – this could be your ultimate punishment. The threat of them removing you from the congregation and telling even your own family to shun you is there to keep you in line. Having said that most people I knew where committing serious sin, it’s just they chose to keep it quiet. Let’s just examine what Jesus said.
John 8 . At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
My advice to the EX Jehovahs Witness. There is a proper way of church leadership set out the scriptures, test the church you are in and while Jesus did not condemn the woman for her sin, he did tell her to leave her sin behind.
My advice if an EX Jehovahs Witness comes in to your church. Remember when you are a Jehovahs Witness you are so suppressed with the rules, 5 meetings a week, you must put a suit on for church, you must do a certain amount of hours on the ministry etc. Talk to them about the grace of God and how amazing Jesus is, don’t push them to early to be committed to your fellowship..even though that is what they need, just make sure they know they are welcome any time.
“I worship God in my own way. I stay at home with my family on Sunday”.
You worship God in your own way? What about the way HE wants to be worshipped? I often find that people that say this it is because they don’t want to be in a fellowship and don’t want the commitment. Be honest with yourself. Is the issue that you cannot accept that the imperfections of the fellowship? Now don’t get me wrong if a church is an out and out heretical church then yes you should leave it. But are you looking to pick holes, just because you want an excuse not get up on a Sunday morning?
The facts are, we should be part of a fellowship. If you don’t agree with some of the things that are being taught – talk to the leader, there may be a good reason. I’ll give you an example…..
I used to be part of a Pentecostal church in Peterborough and I went along for about 3 / 4 months, but I never felt like I was learning anything – I wanted to know about bible prophesy, to understand Israel in end times, hermeneutics etc…whereas it seemed as though every week we seemed to sing praises for 30 minutes and then listen to testimony and be reminded about God’s grace – these are basics of Christianity – why can we not learn more? The response from Tim (the pastor) was what made me release what the problem was.
“Jason” …he said “this Church is slap bang in the middle of a homeless area. We have on average 15 new people with us every week who are un-saved, who are addicts, who have never been in church before. Teaching them hermeneutics isn’t going to be that helpful to them! Having said that you have got some really good other churches that do and we have mid-week studies to go through those things. When brand new people come into church I want them to hear the good news of the gospel”.
I then released what the issue was….me! It was all about what “ I “ wanted from a church, not thinking “what can I do to help this fellowship”. Tim was very open that his Church is where a lot of people come to know the gospel and then they move on to somewhere else. But his church had its place in the wider church of Christ. It was me that needed to change my attitude.
My advice for EX Jehovahs Witnesses. The perfect church does not exist. There is a good reason why lots of churches operate differently – there a lots of different people at lots of different stages in their life. Stop picking holes in every church, and accept that actually Pastors do make mistakes as well. Not only that they may not agree with you in terms of a lot of theology. But maybe it is you in fact that has your theology wrong, be prepared to be open minded and not stuck in your ways.
My advice if an EX Jehovahs Witness comes in to your church. They have plucked up so much courage to walk into your church, and they may well come and want to change the way you do it. Remember it is ingrained in Jehovahs Witnesses that we Christians are stupid and therefore it is only Jehovahs Witnesses who can study the bible with you. People who are fresh out the Jehovahs Witnesses, will likely struggle with the commitment as they learn who true Christians are. Be friendly with them and organise things outside of church, this will help build up rapport with them.
Finding a good church is difficult. But I think that it is time that we EX Jehovahs Witnesses who have come to Christ change our attitude, as to how we feel about fellowship. If you would like to know more about how you find a good church then please read our article on it.