The Governing Body
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is made up of brothers who are anointed servants of Jehovah God. They have the responsibility for giving direction and impetus to the Kingdom work. (Matt. 24:14, 45-47; Rev. 12:17) Like its first century counterpart, the Governing Body today looks to Jehovah, and to Jesus Christ, the Head of the congregation, for direction in all matters. (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23) The Governing Body is organized to take the lead as Jehovah directs it by holy spirit. The members of the Governing Body do not regard themselves as the leaders of Jehovah’s people. Rather, like all anointed Christians on earth, they “keep following the Lamb [Jesus Christ] no matter where he goes.”—Rev. 14:4.
The Bible says: “Let all things take place decently and by arrangement.” (1 Cor. 14:40) The Governing Body obeys this direction by putting in place various helpful procedures and guidelines that ensure the smooth and orderly operation of the branch offices and the congregations. Responsible Christian men do their part by setting an example of obedience as they put such arrangements into effect. All Christians, especially overseers, should look to Jehovah for guidance and should pray regularly for his direction and blessing. All should show themselves “reasonable, ready to obey” those placed in oversight. (Jas. 3:17) Thus, each group, congregation, circuit, and branch is blessed with a united, orderly body of believers who reflect well on the happy God.—1 Cor. 14:33; 1 Tim. 1:11.
While the Governing Body delegates certain details or responsibilities to committees made up of its own members, to committees made up of other dedicated servants of God, or to instruments such as corporations and legal agencies, the Governing Body always takes the lead in promoting the smooth functioning of the organization and the unity of all of God’s people.—Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 1:3; Titus 1:5; Heb. 13:17; w01 1/15 pp. 28-31.
The Governing Body gives final approval for new publications as well as new audio and video programs.
The Governing Body cares for the appointment and deletion of Branch and Country committee members and designates the brother who will serve as the coordinator of the committee. It also appoints circuit overseers and country representatives. In most cases, such appointments are made based on recommendations received from the Branch Committee. The Governing Body also appoints helpers to Governing Body committees as well as headquarters representatives qualified to make branch visits.
The Governing Body may arrange for qualified men to care for theocratic assignments in any locality at any time. It is not bound by recommendations received from other elders. Such recommendations serve merely as a guide and may even be rejected for reasons known to the Governing Body. The Governing Body has the prerogative to use its discretion and look into any matters it deems necessary to examine with regard to the Kingdom work.
Governing Body Committees
To oversee various aspects of the Kingdom work, six administrative Governing Body committees have been established.
The Governing Body committees are made up of individuals known as ‘Helpers’. The term helpers is intended to diminish the hierarchical status these men hold within the Jehovah’s Witness organization. However, to bring transparency to their role and help the public and ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the role these men play, we have described the role each Governing Body Committee plays in the organization. This should help all understand that these men are more than just ‘helpers’.
This committee oversees auditing, branch correspondence and communication standards, historical archive records and exhibits, legal matters and litigation, records management, and the development of news content for the jw.org Newsroom. This committee also supervises communication with government officials, the media, and academic institutions in order to convey an accurate picture of our beliefs and practices. It responds to disasters, outbreaks of persecution, and other emergencies affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses anywhere in the world. In general, all computer-related issues are also cared for by this committee. However, the Writing Committee oversees matters having to do with the development and maintenance of computer programs and tools used to process and translate publications and to publish them in electronic format, including MEPS, the Watchtower Translation System (WTS), Watchtower Library, and jw.org.
This committee oversees the arrangements for the physical and spiritual welfare of Bethel family members earth wide. (Eph. 4:3; Phil. 2:1-5; Jas. 5:14-16) It oversees the selecting and inviting of new members of Bethel families, temporary volunteers, part-time and full-time commuters, remote servants and volunteers, construction servants and volunteers, full-time and part-time construction commuters, and Assembly Hall and Bible school facility servants and handles questions regarding their service. It also appoints expatriate Bethel family members, including Bethelites in foreign service.
This committee supervises the printing and shipping of Bible literature worldwide. It has oversight of printeries and properties owned and operated by the various corporations used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Funding for branches is approved and arranged for under the direction of the Publishing Committee. It has oversight of issues involving accounting, allowances, budgeting, global health-care arrangements for special full-time servants, humanitarian aid requests, insurance, purchasing, taxes, and other financial matters for branch facilities throughout the world, such as the purchase or sale of real estate, equipment, and vehicles. All Branch Requests (AB-3), Nonliterature Branch Requests (AB-3a), and other budget approvals are processed and approved under the direction of this committee. It oversees arrangements for the construction, renovation, and maintenance of all the organization’s facilities, including branches, remote translation offices,missionary homes, schools, Kingdom Halls, and Assembly Halls.
Expenditures of up to USD 2,000,000 will be approved by the Publishing Committee. The Governing Body, however, is responsible for approving major real estate transactions and significant construction projects involving the expenditure of more than USD 2,000,000. In most cases, Branch Committees will present the details of such projects to the Publishing Committee, and thereafter, the matter will be presented to the Governing Body.
This committee supervises all areas of the evangelizing work comprising the activity of publishers, pioneers, and missionaries, as well as congregation organization and the shepherding activities of elders and circuit overseers. It appoints field missionaries and assigns them to areas of need. The Service Committee also provides guidance to branch offices as to the responsibilities of the Service Department. Hospital Information Services at world headquarters as well as the activity of Hospital Information Desks, Hospital Liaison Committees, and Patient Visitation Groups is supervised by the Service Committee. Instructions on field service reporting are given by the Service Committee. It also assigns geographic locations to a particular branch office and outlines the program for periodic branch visits by headquarters representatives and branch shepherding visits by Governing Body members.
Service-related questions that cannot be handled by a Branch Committee and that might affect a publisher’s standing in the congregation or an appointed individual’s qualifications are referred to the Service Committee. Such matters include difficult cases having to do with the formation of judicial, appeal, and special committees.
While the Teaching Committee oversees the preparation of the curriculum for theocratic schools, the Service Committee provides direction to the branches on the operation and scheduling of the schools that are conducted within their branch territories. The Service Committee determines who may be invited to attend the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and the School for Branch Committee Members and Their Wives.
This committee supervises the production of spiritual food that is delivered orally for the benefit of the worldwide brotherhood and supervises the format that is to be followed at congregation meetings. For example, it is directly involved in preparing the Life and Ministry Meeting Workbook, talk outlines, convention dramas, dramatic Bible readings, and convention chairman’s introductions, as well as video publications posted on jw.org or broadcast through other means. These materials are used for dispensing instruction at Bethel spiritual programs, congregation meetings, circuit assemblies, and regional conventions. The Teaching Committee also oversees the organization of international, special, and regional conventions around the world as directed by the Governing Body. In addition, this committee supervises the Scriptural curriculum for seven theocratic schools, namely:
- Watchtower Bible School of Gilead
- School for Branch Committee Members and Their Wives
- School for Circuit Overseers and Their Wives,
- School for Kingdom Evangelizers
- School for Congregation Elders
- Bethel Entrants’ School
- Pioneer Service School
The Theocratic Schools Department works under the supervision of the Teaching Committee and assists in instructing students of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and the School for Branch Committee Members and Their Wives.
Besides reviewing and approving all new recommendations of Morning Worship chairmen and instructors of the School for Kingdom Evangelizers, the Teaching Committee also handles inquiries from branches regarding the above matters, including queries about alternate source material for the Congregation Bible Study in languages into which the main study publication has not yet been translated. The Teaching Committee reviews and approves programs for the dedication of new Assembly Halls and branch facilities, providing helpful guidelines for these events. Guiding principles are also given to the branches on how to conduct morning worship and the Bethel family Watchtower Study. In addition, outlines for Monday night lectures presented to the worldwide Bethel family each service year are reviewed and approved by this committee.
The Teaching Committee oversees Audio/Video Services, the Theocratic Schools Department, the WHQ Broadcasting Department, and the WHQ Travel Department.
This committee supervises the production of spiritual food in written and electronic form for our brothers and for the public in general. It also develops and maintains the organization’s websites and oversees the translation work done throughout the earth. This includes the translation of audio and video programs from English into additional languages.
The publications that the Writing Committee supervises include Bibles, the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, all bound books, booklets, brochures, tracts, invitations, final copy for the Life and Ministry Meeting Workbook, and any revisions of these. It also supervises the production of public witnessing posters and unique branch materials, such as dedication and tour brochures and public relations materials. This committee also approves talk outlines and scripts for dramas. Additionally, the Writing Committee responds to questions about the meaning of certain scriptures and points presented in the publications, including general questions from the branches about doctrines or morals that do not deal with specific cases in which the standing of those in the congregations might be affected.