.:HOW CAN I AS AN EX-JEHOVAH’S WITNESS FIND A PLACE TO WORSHIP OUTSIDE THE WATCHTOWER ORGANIZATION?
“I appreciate your website and the fact that you do not endorse any religion. I have left Jehovah’s Witnesses after 46 years of active service. I see false teaching in the other so-called Christian religions and this presents a problem for me. Hebrews 10:24-25 speaks of the importance of Christian fellowship and Jesus instructions his followers to celebrate the Memorial. Thus, the question for me is, Who do we associate with and share the Memorial with? On your website under the “Statement of Faith,” you start by saying: “We believe…” Is there some way for others to become part of “we”? So far, I have not found any Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who meet together for worship. I belong to Ex-Jehovah’s Witness meetup groups both on the Internet locally. They meet once a month at a public place and only about 6-10 show-up to share reasons why they left. I appreciate all of this, but it would be nice if there were more of a formal meeting somewhere to sing songs and pray and worship God. I would appreciate any help you could provide.”
Anyone who has ever been a Jehovah’s Witness knows exactly how you are feeling right now in looking for a place to connect with God on a more corporate level. It seems that when a person leaves the Watchtower, there isn’t another place to go where you can worship Jehovah God with others who embrace all of the beliefs you accepted as a Jehovah’s Witness. While you can find groups that hold to similar beliefs, there will always be something you will find that will not agree with what you have been taught in the Witnesses and it will make you feel like a “fish out of water” so to speak. It is difficult because while you may be physically out of the Watchtower, the Watchtower thinking is still in your mind. Thus, you will have a tendency to look at Scripture the way the Watchtower programmed you to.
If we can encourage you to broaden your thinking a little by considering the possibility that some of the fundamental teachings of the Watchtower are wrong, including the identity of Jesus Christ and eternal life being limited to life on Paradise earth, you may by surprised to find that some of the perspectives you are encountering in Christian churches are not as far off from the teachings of the Bible as you once thought they were as a Jehovah’s Witness. As you study, you will discover verses in the Bible that you have never seen before, and it will open up a new perspective on life and a relationship with God that was not possible in the religious system you are familiar with. This is what many who work in our ministry have encountered. Thus, we’d like to encourage you to read the following article on our site and the links listed at the end of that article as we believe these will help you in your spiritual journey:
You also asked about our website’s Statement of Faith. When we state “We believe…”, this is a reference to the doctrinal position that the leaders of our Witnesses for Jesus, Inc ministry uphold. This includes all of the Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who volunteer on our website’s Ministry Team, our Spanish Translators and ministry partners as well as those who serve on our ministry’s Board of Directors. Although our Internet support groups are also sponsored by our ministry, we allow anyone who is a former Jehovah’s Witness (regardless of their spiritual interest) into our Ex-Jehovah’s Witness group because it is a support group to minister to the needs of anyone who has left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whether or not they want to embrace Biblical beliefs. Thus, while the leaders of our ministry embrace our website’s Statement of Faith, we do not require members of our Ex-Jehovah’s Witness and Ex-Mormon support group to do so as well.
Our ministry is not a “religion” as is commonly associated with the word. We have no specific place of worship that we gather under the banner of “Witnesses for Jesus,” nor do we as a ministry officially endorse a specific religious church or denomination. As you know, there are slight differences in all Christian denominations so we seek to keep our Statement of Faith as generic to basic Bible beliefs that are also embraced by many in Christianity. Thus, as a ministry, we do not believe that a “one true church” exists as an organization, but rather, as a body of Christian followers throughout the world who on a personal level have accepted Jesus as their LORD and Savior and seek to participate in the worship of God through Christian churches in their local areas.
So, just as true followers of Jesus Christ gathered together wherever they could find a place to meet, whether in homes or synagogues, many Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who are involved with our ministry have found places to worship and celebrate the Memorial (or as churches call it, “the Lord’s Supper”) in the Christian churches found in their local areas. Does this mean that they believe EVERYTHING taught by these churches? Not necessarily as many of them have found healthy Christian churches that focus primarily on the verse-by-verse teaching of God’s Word and do not require their members to be uniformly committed to every unique doctrinal tenant taught by the church (unless they seek to be leaders in the church).
I know that as a former Jehovah’s Witnesses, this way of worshipping is different than you experienced in the Watchtower where one is not allowed to hold a different interpretation of Scripture than what is officially espoused by Watchtower leadership. This type of controlled thinking is typical of all mind-controlling cults, but a healthy religious affiliation seeks to inspire “unity” of belief on doctrinal essentials (such as the teaching on who God is and how salvation is obtained) but beyond these fundamental teachings, healthy Christians are free to differ in areas not specifically defined in Scriptures, such as whether or not to celebrate holidays, etc. (See Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16.)
The following is a list of a few of articles on our site that will help you better understand our ministry’s viewpoint on how to find a healthy religious association while avoiding highly controlling groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
This post is also available in: Spanish