The ‘Shepherd Book’ Changes: October 2019

Shepherd book changes 2019

Shepherd the Flock of God” – 1 Peter 5:2 is a book for elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses only. It contains, among other things, procedures on how to deal with wrongdoing among its members. The book was originally published in English in January 2019. It was revised in October 2019. This article details the changes between these two editions.

Revision Changes

On the front cover, the 2D matrix barcode has changed from 190129 to 190905 representing the date of issue in the format YYMMDD. On page 2, the words October 2019 have been inserted to reflect the date of the edition. On page 3, January has been replaced with October for the date of printing and United States of America has been abbreviated to U.S.A. In the Table of Contents, the heading FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FIELD has been changed to the more politically correct and plural term, MULTILANGUAGE FIELDS.

All other changes to the Shepherd Book are shown below as a strike-through (-) for deletions and an underline (_) for additions made between the January and October editions.


Introduction – Paragraph 2

Although this book covers most aspects of our work as elders, at times you may need to consult other publications sources of theocratic direction, such as Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will and forms and letters from provided by the branch office. Be alert to adjustments so as to stay up-to-date on theocratic direction.

How Elders Work Together as a Body

Chapter 1 – Paragraph 17

(17) Determining whether to host a foreign-language pregroup or group and determining which meetings will be held. —See Chapter 24.

Congregation Service Committee

Chapter 2 – Paragraph 3

(5) Approving publishers who have special needs for assembly or convention accommodations.

(10) See 9:16-17-18.

(13) Assigning elders to dDeterminge how to handle material in the confidential file when the brothers who handled the matter are unavailable or no longer qualified. – See 22:26.

(14) Arranging for elders to contact the visit or write a letter to addresses of households that have asked that no further visits be made. —See 23:21.

Coordinator of the Body of Elders

Chapter 3 – Paragraph 3

(3) Arranging for elders to review questions with baptismal candidates. If there are very few elders, capable ministerial servants may be used to review the questions found in “Part 1: Christian Beliefs – Elementary Bible Teachings” and “Part 3 – Jehovah’s Arrangement of Things” in the appendix of the Organized book. — See od pp. 211-214


Chapter 4 – Paragraph 1

The body of elders selects the secretary. The secretary should have good organizational ability and should not be a procrastinator. (Rom. 12:11) He should have the ability to write in a way that is clear and understandable. The body of elders may assign another elder to assist him. If necessary, a qualified ministerial servant may be assigned by the body of elders to assist with tasks such as the compiling, posting, and submitting of the congregation’s field service activity to the branch office. The branch office should be notified of a change of the brother serving as secretary by means of the Coordinator of the Body of Elders / Secretary Change of Address (S-29) form.

Chapter 4 – Paragraph 2

(2) Along with the service overseer, reviewing the activity of regular pioneers near the midpoint of the service year. — See 9:156.

(12) Serving as one of the local domain administrators, if possible. See Instructions for JW.ORG Local Domain Administrators (S-135).

Service Overseer

Chapter 5 – Paragraph 2

(7) Along with the secretary, reviewing the activity of regular pioneers near the midpoint of the service year. —See 9:165.

(8) Annually, providing to the Congregation Service Committee the addresses of households that have asked that no further visits be made.—See 23:21.

(98) Training publishers for witnessing at schools, universities, nursing homes, and retirement homes. —See 23:17-18.

Appointment & Deletion of Elders and Ministerial Servants

Chapter 8 – Paragraph 1

Before meeting to consider recommending brothers as ministerial servants or elders, each elder should personally review the inspired qualifications found at 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; James 3:17, 18; and 1 Peter 5:2, 3. Helpful comments on the Scriptural qualifications can be found in chapters 5 and 6 of Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will. A brother recommended as a ministerial servant must have been baptized at least on year.

Chapter 8 – Paragraph 5

The elders should help brothers in their late teens to reach out and qualify to be ministerial servants. The following factors will be helpful when considering the qualifications of such a brother. Does the congregation respect him as a spiritual man? (1 Cor. 2: 15, 16) Does he display “the fruitage of the spirit”? (Gal. 5:22, 23) Does he have a meaningful share in the ministry? Does his use of his time give evidence that he is putting Kingdom interests first? Do his conversation and comments give evidence of good personal study habits? What are his spiritual goals? Has he been “tested as to fitness”?1 Tim. 3:10 Gal. 5:22, 23; Ps. 1:1, 2; Matt. 6:33; Eph. 4:29; w89 7/1 p. 29; see 1:6.4-5.

Chapter 8 – Paragraph 29

Files for Bankruptcy: Have individuals in members of the congregation or the community become upset? Did the brother lack self-control in his spending or fail to use reasonable foresight in his business decisions? Does he have a reputation for being honest and responsible? Is he viewed as one who conscientiously tries to pay his debts? Does he feel a moral responsibility to repay canceled debts if former creditors would accept payment? Does he still have the respect of the congregation? Does he continue to have “a fine testimony from outsiders”?—1 Tim. 3:7; w94 9/15 pp. 30-31.


Chapter 9 – Paragraph 1

(3) The applicant must be an exemplary Christian. —See 2:4. An individual who is exemplary is someone whose conduct and worship are considered worthy of imitation. His meeting attendance, share in the ministry, family life, choices of entertainment, dress and grooming, and so forth are good examples for others.

Chapter 9 – Paragraph 4

Before deleting an individual as a regular pioneer, the Congregation Service Committee should obtain comments from the appropriate group overseer. They should also consider whether the pioneer may qualify for special consideration. (See 9:14-15.) The service committee should use good judgment in determining when it would be wise to confer with the other elders. (See 2:1.) In all cases, before any announcement is made to the congregation, the body of elders should be updated on how the matter was handled and two members of the service committee should inform the individual of the decision. If a pioneer no longer qualifies or must discontinue for personal reasons, an announcement should be made to the congregation. The announcement of deletion should read as follows: “Brother (Sister) [name of person] is no longer serving as a regular pioneer.” Inform the branch office of the deletion using If the discontinuation is because of health, family responsibilities, secular work, and so forth, choose the option “Personal reasons.” If the discontinuation is
because of a poor example that did not involve judicial action, choose the option “No longer qualifies.” For discontinuation because of other reasons, choose the appropriate option.

Chapter 9 – Paragraph 11

Regular pioneers may be invited to share in certain theocratic assignments as part of their sacred service. Those overseeing such assignments may grant permission for the pioneers to receive hour credit to help them meet their monthly goal. The spirituality, availability, and willing spirit of pioneers may allow them to support Kingdom interests in a special way. Such approved assignments include serving in construction oversight, Assembly Hall oversight, assembly oversight, and convention oversight as well serving as commuter Bethelites, remote volunteers, or Bethel consultants, Hospital Liaison Committee members, Patient Visitation Group members, Disaster Relief Committee members, Local Design/Construction Department Field representatives and maintenance trainers, and so forth. Approved assignments also include; assisting with Kingdom Hall construction when such is done at the request of the branch office or its representatives overseeing the project; assisting with pre- and post-assembly or convention work, assisting with work; and so forth. Assembly Halls overseers may, in limited cases, grant hour credit to pioneers for work performed at Assembly Halls, conducting or participating in congregation meetings held in prison, and so forth.

Chapter 9 – Paragraph 14

In some situations, pioneers spend more hours in a month on theocratic projects than they can receive hour credit for. Later in the service year, they may need to take a vacation, spend time in secular work, or care for some other pressing issue that precludes their reaching the 70-hour goal for one or more months. They may thus fall short of the 840 hours for the service year. The Congregation Service Committee should take into consideration all that such pioneers are doing in behalf of Kingdom interests and grant special consideration to them. A pioneer would not lose his privileges if he has worked extensively on theocratic projects and did not reach the annual hour requirement because he spent more time on such projects than he could receive credit for. The elders, being aware of the pioneer’s work to support Kingdom interests, will offer warm commendation. A notation can be made on the Congregation’s Publisher Record (S-21) to indicate that special consideration has been granted.

Chapter 9 – Paragraph 15

Special consideration should also be granted to pioneers who fall short of the annual hour requirement if they serve in construction oversight, as Assembly Hall overseers, on Hospital Liaison Committees, on Patient Visitation Groups, on Disaster Relief Committees, or on Convention Committees. All such assignments are forms of sacred service.

(Remaining paragraphs renumbered)

Circuit Overseer

Chapter 10 – Paragraph 1

Four to six weeks before a regular visit of the circuit overseer, the elders should begin to remind the congregation of the visit. The elders should encourage full participation in the field ministry and remind the congregation of the opportunity to auxiliary pioneer with a 30-hour requirement and attend the pioneer meeting with the circuit overseer. See Chapter 8, paragraphs 15-16, if recommending a brother for appointment as an elder or a ministerial servant during the visit. The coordinator of the body of elders should follow closely the instructions provided on the Information Needed for Visit of Circuit Overseer (S-61) form. Early in the week, the elders should alert the circuit overseer to any serious problems the congregation is facing.

(Subsequent paragraphs renumbered)

Medical Matters

Chapter 11 – Paragraph 1

(1) Durable power of attorney (DPA) card. The publisher should be informed of the importance of having a properly completed DPA card and of providing a copy of it to (1) his health-care agents, and (2) his doctor or hospital, and (3) the congregation secretary.

Chapter 11 – Paragraph 2

When the elders learn that a sister is pregnant, they should provide her (and her husband, if he is a Witness) with a copy of Information for Expectant Mothers (S-401). Soon after, the elders should inquire whether the assistance of the Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC) is desired. If the sister requests assistance, the elders should contact the HLC she has located a cooperative doctor and medical facility that have experience in bloodless medicine. Elders should ensure that such sisters and any parents with minor children are familiar with the points contained in the article “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies,” in the November 2009 issue of Awake! pages 26-29, and in the document How Parents Can Protect Their Children From Misuse of Blood (S-55).

Chapter 11 – Paragraph 10

At times, a publisher requires specialized medical care that is unavailable locally. The Special Medical Needs Room Request (hlc-20) form, which elders may obtain from the Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC), allows Witness patients and family to request assistance with lodging during their stay. There is no obligation for patients to use this provision, especially when financial circumstances allow the patient to cover his needs. If the patient simply wants information on what accommodation options are available locally, he should indicate that he is able to cover such expenses and the Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC) can then provide such information.

Chapter 11 – Paragraph 16

(3) If he is sensitive to others becoming aware of the fact that he has such a disease and does not want it to become known to others, he may attend a convention or assembly to which his congregation is not assigned, listen to the baptism talk, and then be baptized in a stream, river, lake, or sea.

Determining Whether a Judicial Committee Should Be Formed

Chapter 12 – Paragraph 17

(1) Unnecessary Association With Disfellowshipped or Disassociated Individuals: Willful, continued, unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated nonrelatives despite repeated counsel
would warrant judicial action.—Matt. 18:17b; 1 Cor. 5:11, 13; 2 John 10, 11; lvs pp. 39-40.
If a publisher member in the congregation is known to have unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated relatives who are not in the household, elders should use the Scriptures to counsel and reason with him. Review with him information from the Remain in God’s Love book, page 241. If it is clear that a Christian is violating the spirit of the disfellowshipping decree in this regard and does not respond to counsel, he would not qualify for congregation privileges, which require one to be exemplary. He would not be dealt with judicially unless there is persistent spiritual association or he persists in openly criticizing the disfellowshipping decision.

Chapter 12 – Paragraph 30

Obscene Speech: (Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:8; lvs p. 162) Obviously, certain words are more offensive than others. Profanity is any kind of language that profanes. However, obscene speech involves sexually explicit, filthy expressions. (g03 6/8 pp. 19-20) Is the speech sexually explicit? Does it persist despite repeated counsel? This would include obscenities used both in written and in oral communication, such as Internet chat rooms, phone sex, or e-mail.—See 12:15.2.

Chapter 12 – Paragraph 43

If the elders learn of an accusation of serious wrongdoing against someone in a member of the congregation who serves as a Bethel family member, a construction servant, a full-time or part-time commuter to Bethel, a full-time or part-time construction commuter, a remote servant or volunteer, a Bethel consultant, a field missionary, a special pioneer, an Assembly Hall servant, or a Bible school facility servant, two elders with knowledge of the circumstances should immediately contact the Service Department for direction on handling the matter.

Chapter 12 – Paragraph 58

(8) If adultery por·nei’a was involved, has a confession been made to the innocent mate?—See 16:10.5.

Chapter 12 – Paragraph 71

It is the responsibility of the individual desiring to remarry to produce convincing evidence to establish Scriptural freedom to remarry. If an individual’s divorce occurred before baptism, the elders should not assume the individual is Scripturally free to remarry, as baptism does not dissolve previous marital ties. Elders should be very careful when it comes to giving direction on whether an individual is Scripturally free to remarry and should consult with the Service Department on any questions. This is especially true since the decisions a person makes in such matters will affect not only his relationship with his marriage mate but also his relationship with Jehovah. Elders shoulder a heavy responsibility in such matters and need to be cautious when offering counsel, especially when the answer may not be readily apparent.—Luke 12:48; Jas. 3:1.

Chapter 12 – Paragraph 73

If a baptized Christian who accuses his believing mate of adultery and wishes to establish freedom to divorce and remarry approaches an elder, the matter should be referred to the body of elders. The publisher should be advised that he is not to view himself as Scripturally free to date or remarry until the elders have investigated the matter and guilt accuser is not free unless the evidence establishing wrongdoing is sufficient to warrant the formation of a judicial committee on a charge of por·nei’a is established. (Deut. 19:15; John 8:17) If the accused mate is associated with another congregation, the evidence should be presented to the elders of that congregation for review and a determination. The publisher should be advised that he is not to view himself as Scripturally free until the elders have investigated the matter and guilt of por·nei’a is established.

Child Abuse

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 1

Elders should adhere closely to the direction in this chapter when a matter involving child abuse comes to their attention. Doing so will uphold the sanctity of Jehovah’s name and contribute toward the safety of minors.—Isa. 32:1, 2; 1 Pet. 2:12; w19.05 pp. 8-13.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 5

The Scriptures place the responsibility on parents for teaching and protecting their children. (Eph. 6:4) As spiritual shepherds, elders can help parents to shoulder their Scriptural responsibility. Our publications and website contain much helpful information to assist parents.—w19.05 pp. 12-13 10 11/1 p. 13; w08 10/1 p. 21; w96 12/1 pp. 13-14 pars. 18-19; g 10/07 pp. 3-11; g99 4/8 pp. 8-11; g97 4/8 p. 14; g93 10/8 pp. 5-13; g85 1/22 pp. 3-10; fy pp. 61-62 pars. 24-26; lr pp. 170-171.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 7

(6) The alleged perpetrator or victim is not in a member of your congregation.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 14

When shepherding a child abuse victim who is still a minor, two elders and the minor’s parents should be involved. (Deut. 6:6, 7; Eph. 6:4) Of course, if one of the parents is the accused, the accused parent would not be involved. If neither parent can be present, then another adult publisher in member of the congregation who is a confidant of the victim should be included.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 15

As spiritual shepherds, elders should be good listeners. (Prov. 21: 13; Jas. 1:19) While some victims may prefer not to talk about past abuse, others have found it helpful to talk with empathetic elders who can listen and then “speak consolingly” from God’s Word. (1 Thess. 5:14; Prov. 12:25; Jas. 5:13-15) Though it may be necessary for the elders to ask a few tactful questions to help an afflicted one express herself, they should avoid probing unnecessarily or repeatedly into the details of the abuse. However, discussing Biblical examples of others who endured a difficult childhood and yet succeeded in becoming faithful servants of Jehovah may provide needed comfort. In time, Jehovah God will heal “the brokenhearted.”—Ps. 30:2; 94:19; 147:3; w19.05 pp. 14-20; w11 10/15 pp. 23-27; w01 4/15 pp. 25-28; w83 10/1 pp. 27-31; g 7/09 pp. 6-9; g91 10/8 pp. 3-11.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 16

The time that elders can spend shepherding an individual in member of the congregation who is a victim of child abuse is limited, so they must balance this important responsibility with their other responsibilities, which include caring for the spiritual, emotional, and material needs of their own family. In some cases, a victim of child abuse may seek more spiritual support from the elders than they can reasonably give. In such cases, some elders have found it beneficial to set limits on the time for such shepherding. It may take several visits to assist a victim effectively. When circumstances limit the extent of the assistance the elders can provide on a particular occasion, elders should still seek to share words of encouragement, assuring a victim of Jehovah’s love, reading an appropriate scripture, and offering a prayer. This will confirm the elders’ interest and willingness to help to the extent possible.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 18

The elders may learn of an allegation of child sexual abuse directly from the victim, through her parents, or through a trusted confidant of the victim. After receiving assistance from the branch office and if the accused is a publisher in member of the congregation, the body of elders will appoint two elders to investigate. These elders should carefully follow Scriptural procedures and the Bible-based direction in this chapter and in Chapter 12. During the investigation process and during the judicial committee process, a victim of child sexual abuse is not required to make her allegation in the presence of the alleged abuser. Generally, elders should be able to obtain necessary information from the parents. In addition, sufficient evidence needed to establish wrongdoing on the part of an alleged abuser may already be available to the elders. (See 12:40-42.) In the exceptional event that the two elders believe it is necessary to speak with a minor who is a victim of child sexual abuse, the elders should first contact the Service Department.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 19

If the body of elders concludes that there is sufficient Scriptural evidence to warrant the formation of a judicial committee on the grounds of child sexual abuse, the coordinator of the body of elders should first contact the circuit overseer. (See 12:40-42; 15: 1-2.) The circuit overseer will designate an experienced elder to serve as chairman of the judicial committee. If an appeal committee is needed, the circuit overseer will select experienced elders to serve on the committee and will designate the chairman. (See 17:1.) If wrongdoing is established and the wrongdoer is not repentant, he should be disfellowshipped. (See 16:26-31.) On the other hand, if the wrongdoer is repentant and is reproved, the reproof should be announced to the congregation at the next midweek meeting. (See 16:20-25.) This announcement will serve as a protection for the congregation. Victims of child sexual abuse are not handled judicially. IHowever, if the body of elders believes that congregation action may be warranted in the case of a mature minor who was a willing participant in the wrongdoing, two elders should call the Service Department before proceeding.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 20

If a person who has been disfellowshipped for child sexual abuse applies for reinstatement, the coordinator of the body of elders should contact his circuit overseer and provide the names of those who served on the original committee. The circuit overseer will designate an experienced elder to serve as chairman of the reinstatement committee. If the decision is to reinstate, two elders serving on the committee should immediately call the Service Department. This call must be made before the person is informed of the decision and before the reinstatement is announced to the congregation.—See 19:10-12.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 21

If a person who has been disfellowshipped for child sexual abuse has moved and applies for reinstatement in a different congregation, the coordinator of the body of elders of the new congregation should contact his circuit overseer. The circuit overseer of the new congregation will designate an experienced elder to serve as chairman of the reinstatement committee in the new congregation. If that committee recommends that the person be reinstated, the committee should contact the coordinator of the body of elders of the original congregation, who should then contact his circuit overseer and provide the names of those who served on the original judicial committee. That circuit overseer will designate an experienced elder to serve as chairman of the reinstatement committee in the original congregation. If that committee agrees to reinstate, two elders from each congregation’s committee should immediately call the Service Department. These calls must be made before the person is informed of the decision and before the reinstatement is announced in both congregations.—See 19:10-12.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 22

The elders should carefully adhere to all direction provided by the Service Department. For example, the Service Department will provide direction when (1) it is determined that a publisher (baptized or unbaptized) who is guilty of child sexual abuse is repentant and will remain in the congregation, (2) one disfellowshipped for child sexual abuse is reinstated, (3) a publisher (baptized or unbaptized) who denies an accusation of child sexual abuse is convicted by the secular authorities, or (4) one viewed as a child molester by the community or the congregation becomes a publisher or gets becomes a baptized member of the congregation.

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 27

When the elders are informed that an individual who has been accused of child sexual abuse (established or not) has moved into the congregation, two elders should immediately call the Legal Department. This should be done even if the individual is disfellowshipped or is in prison and has transferred from another facility or is released. If the individual is disfellowshipped and living within the congregation’s territory, the elders should list that address on the appropriate congregation territory card as a “dDo-nNot-cCall.”

Chapter 14 – Paragraph 28

From time to time, secular authorities may inform the elders that a sex offender is living in the area. The notice may provide the address of the individual and may state the nature of his criminal activity. In such a case, the elders should list that address on the appropriate congregation territory card as a “dDo-nNot-cCall.”

Preparing For Judicial Hearings

Chapter 15 – Paragraph 19

If a member of the media or an attorney representing the accused contacts the elders, they should not give any information about the case or verify that there is a judicial committee. Rather, they should give the following explanation: “The spiritual and physical welfare of Jehovah’s Witnesses is of paramount concern to the elders, who willingly provide spiritual assistance to congregation members. The elders extend this spiritual assistance confidentially. This makes it easier for those who seek the elders’ help to do so without worrying that what they say to the elders will be divulged later. Consequently, we do not comment on whether elders are currently or have formerly met to assist anyone in any member of the congregation.” If there is a need to do so, the elders may obtain the inquirer’s name and phone number and inform him that their attorney will contact him. The elders should then promptly telephone the Legal Department.

Procedure For Judicial Hearings

Chapter 16 – Paragraph 19

In all cases of judicial reproof, the wrongdoer is disqualified from special privileges, such as pioneering or offering congregation prayer, until he has made further spiritual progress. This also includes other congregation assignments that might be given to those who are exemplary. In addition, some judicial restrictions should be imposed by the judicial committee in all cases of judicial reproof. Judicial restrictions may include not commenting at congregation meetings and not presenting student assignments on the midweek meeting. Such restrictions are removed gradually. When the elders inform a repentant wrongdoer of restrictions, it would be helpful to tell him the date of the next meeting, at which time his progress will be reviewed. —See 16:22. It may be discouraging to the repentant wrongdoer if restrictions are imposed for a prolonged period of time. In most cases, teh elders will remove some or even all these restrictions before many months have passed.

Chapter 16 – Paragraph 22

The judicial committee should monitor the spiritual progress of the repentant wrongdoer and be alert to remove judicial restrictions gradually progressively as he recovers spiritually. It may be discouraging to the repentant wrongdoer if restrictions are imposed for a prolonged period. In most cases, the elders will remove some or even all of these restrictions before many months have passed. The committee should use good judgment in determining if there is a need to consult with other elders on the body before removing any restrictions. (Prov. 15:22) In all cases, the body of elders should be informed when any restrictions are removed. (See 22:21-27.) When an elder serving on the original committee moves or is no longer serving as an elder, the body of elders will select a replacement to monitor the wrongdoer’s progress. If the wrongdoer moves before the committee lifts all of his restrictions, the new congregation should receive sufficient details so that the elders can evaluate his true spiritual condition. The elders should provide the type of information and details they would appreciate receiving if the individual was moving into their congregation. (If the wrongdoing involved child sexual abuse, see Chapter 14, paragraphs 26-27.) The elders of the new congregation should choose two or three elders to continue to monitor the wrongdoer’s progress and lift the remaining judicial restrictions.


Chapter 18 – Paragraph 1

Whereas disfellowshipping is an action taken by a judicial committee against an unrepentant wrongdoer, disassociation is an action taken by a baptized individual in member of the congregation who no longer desires to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (1 John 2:19; od pp. 142-143) In cases of disassociation, the body of elders should appoint a committee (not judicial) of three elders to consider the facts.


Chapter 20 – Paragraph 20

At congregation meetings, speakers should not project any moving video footage on screens or monitors unless directed to do so by the organization. (As an exception, speakers at sign-language meetings may show videos of scriptures and make judicious use of other videos footage from our organization as a visual teaching aid for the special needs of deaf audiences.) However, speakers may display still pictures, graphics, or artwork. Speakers should not contact the branch office to request pictures, graphics, or artwork for use in their presentations. Speakers may show the text of selected scriptures on the monitors if this is done sparingly. However, it would not be appropriate to display the text of each scripture used.

Chapter 20 – Paragraph 22

Kingdom songs from the “Sing Out Joyfully”—Meetings series should be played before and after congregation meetings. Such music should not be allowed to drown out or overshadow the interchange of encouragement that comes from Christian association and theocratic conversation.When songs are played for singing, they should not be played so softly that it is difficult to sing in a heartfelt manner or so loudly that they overpower the voices of those singing.

Chapter 20 – Paragraph 23

For direction regarding songs used by foreign-language groups, see Chapter 24, paragraph 21.

Chapter 20 – Paragraph 27

Many of our brothers and sisters have circumstances that limit their ability to attend an assembly or convention. In other instances, a publisher may desire to attend an assembly or convention that is held in his mother tongue but does not have the means to do so. For such ones, video recordings of the current circuit assembly and convention program in many languages are made available on JW Stream. A publisher who is invited to access an assembly or convention program on JW Stream should be instructed not to share the program with anyone else. Additionally, the publisher should not view the program until his congregation attends the event.—See Chapter 24, paragraph 27, for direction on the use of JW Stream in multilanguage fields by foreign-language congregations, groups and pregroups.

Chapter 20 – Paragraph 37

It is best to ignore trivial or minor disturbances created by individuals. However, if someone persists in this course of action and is distracting others, he should be asked to leave. If the disruptive individual refuses to leave, he should be informed that if he does not leave and continues to distract others, the police will be contacted. If the individual does not cooperate, the police should be called. When the police arrive, inform them that the individual is causing a disturbance and that he is no longer welcome at the facility his implied invitation to attend the meeting has been revoked. The police may also be informed that we are willing to file tresspassing charges if it seems prudent and necessary under the circumstances.

Kingdom Halls

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 2

A Kingdom Hall is dedicated to the worship of Jehovah. As many as three or four congregations may be assigned by the branch office to use the same Kingdom Hall auditorium in order to make full use of the facility and to keep expenses to a minimum. Whether the property title, or deed, is held in the name of a local corporation or by means of a trustee arrangement or it is held in the name of a legal entity managed by the branch office, no congregation should conclude that it “owns” the Kingdom Hall. However, it is the responsibility of the congregations using the property to care for it and see that it is used in harmony with Kingdom Interests.

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 3

As many as three or four congregations may be assigned by the branch
office to use the same Kingdom Hall auditorium in order to make
full use of the facility and to keep expenses to a minimum.
The branch office will generally correspond with only one of the congregations using the facility regarding legal, property, and related matters. Usually, this contact congregation holds the documents related to the Kingdom Hall and the property on which it is located. This is for practical reasons only and does not provide a basis for the contact congregation to make unilateral decisions related to the use and upkeep of the Kingdom Hall. Regardless of who holds title, no congregation should conclude that it “owns” the Kingdom Hall. It is the responsibility of all the congregations using the property to care for it and see that it is used in harmony with Kingdom interests.

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 10

When it is necessary to hire a contractor to perform a service and the cost is such that the approval of the LDC is not needed, the elders should obtain written estimates and signed written agreements. The details of the estimates or bids should not be shared with others wishing to perform the work. The elders should verify that the contractor has the skill necessary to complete the work and that he has the insurance and other legal protection needed. This should be done whether or not the contractor is a Witness. The congregation should consider requesting a copy of the contractor’s certificate of insurance to verify this coverage before the work commences and, if possible, should request that the legal entity holding title to the Kingdom Hall be named as an additional insured on the contractor’s insurance policy. If questions arise regarding the contract wording or specific local requirements, the Branch Risk Management Desk in the Accounting Department should be contacted for assistance. In most cases, it is advisable for a dependable local brother to be on hand to monitor the work of contractors.

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 13

If a congregation needs to rent a facility (or parking lot) for a one-time use, the elders should determine the level of repairs necessary to have a safe and suitable place to meet. (See Chapter 21, paragraph 4, for direction on rental of facilities for long-term use.) It is best to have the owner of the property care for such work. However, where this is not a viable option, the elders should seek an equitable arrangement with the owner. The terms of that arrangement should be put in writing prior to the work commencing. Any wording in a contract that indicates that the congregation or the organization is responsible for all liability should be avoided. If there are concerns with the wording in these agreements, the Branch Risk Management Desk should be contacted for assistance.

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 25

The Local Design/Construction Department will arrange for an inspection and evaluation of each Kingdom Hall every two years. While it is not necessary for each elder to be present during the inspection, it is important that the Kingdom Hall Operating Committee or the maintenance coordinator be present. If Further instructions regarding the participation of publishers is needed at the time of the inspection, the elders will be informed of this will be provided when the inspection is scheduled. The inspection will help to ensure that the preventive maintenance program is being followed. Each inspection will include a review of any Kingdom Hall ownership and property documents and any regulatory permits related to building systems to ensure that these are in order and to arrange for further assistance if needed. After the inspection, a report will be given to each body of elders. It is expected that the elders will follow through on the recommendations in the report and will promptly address any safety or maintenance issues found.

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 28

All elders should be thoroughly familiar with Working Together Safely—Standards for Theocratic Construction and Maintenance (DC-82). A printed or an electronic copy of Working Together Safely should be provided to each publisher in member of the congregation who volunteers to assist with a maintenance or construction project or with other tasks that involve a measure of risk, such as working with power tools, using ladders, accessing roofs, or performing electrical work.

Chapter 21 – Paragraph 42

In lands where it is permissible for It is preferred that congregations to not own or control property, only property other than what is necessary for congregation meetings should be purchased. Exceptions may be made for modest dwellings for circuit overseers, special pioneers, or others in special full-time service at the discretion of the branch office. (See Instructions for Circuit Accounting [S-331] for direction on circuit apartments.) If questions arise in connection with congregation property, such as regarding housing, use of land by other parties, and gifts of property, the elders should contact the Local Design/Construction Department for direction.

Correspondence & Records

Chapter 22 – Paragraph 5

When a publisher (active or inactive) moves to another congregation, a letter of introduction and the Congregation’s Publisher Records (S-21) should promptly be sent to the new congregation. The Congregation Service Committee may take the initiative and send these items without waiting for a formal request from the new congregation. If a person who has been accused of child sexual abuse (established or not) moves to another congregation, see Chapter 14, paragraph 26. If a publisher regularly moves away to live at a second residence, follow the applicable direction in Chapter 8, paragraph 14.

Chapter 22 – Paragraph 11

  • DPA Cards

Chapter 22 – Paragraph 13

The congregation’s report should be submitted to the branch office Service Department no later than the 20th day of the month. If a publisher turns in his report late, it should be added to the congregation’s report for the following month and the “Number Reporting” figure should be adjusted accordingly. Individual reports should be posted on the Congregation’s Publisher Records for the month shown on the report slip, regardless of when the report is received or when it is included in the congregation’s report submitted to the branch office Service Department. A publisher is not considered irregular because of a late report.

Chapter 22 – Paragraph 29

When a baptized Christian who is 19 years of age or older informs an elder of his desire to pursue Bethel service or assist with theocratic construction projects on a part-time or full-time basis, the elder should closely adhere to the following instructions:
(1) In addition to providing the prospective applicant the Application for Volunteer Program (A-19) and its cover letter (A-20) or the Application to Become a Member of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah’s Witnesses (A-8) and its cover letter (A-9), be sure to provide him with the A-63 letter regarding pornography.
(2) Remind the prospective applicant of his responsibility to view the videos Making Yourself Available for Bethel Service and Be Honest in All Things (Bethel/Construction Application) before prayerfully completing the application. Explain to him that viewing the two videos is a requirement for all who submit these applications.

Chapter 22 – Paragraph 30

The aforementioned instructions regarding applications do not apply to exemplary publishers who complete the Local Design/ Construction Volunteer Application (DC-50) to make themselves available periodically to support construction and maintenance projects for limited periods of time within a reasonable travel distance from their home.

Field Ministry

Chapter 23 – Paragraph 6

Site Permission and Insurance Coverage: In some public locations, permission may be needed from a manager or secular authority before setting up a literature display. The service overseer or someone else designated by the body of elders should determine what may be legally required, if anything, in the way of permissions, permits, and insurance coverage. Any application to use a mobile cart or to set up a table or kiosk to display literature must be filled out in the name of an individual publisher, not in the name of the congregation, any corporation used by the organization, or “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” If a small administrative fee is needed in order to acquire space in a public area, it is to be paid by the individual publisher, not the congregation. Publishers should carefully review any such applications or related documents to see what responsibility they are taking upon themselves with respect to liability. Publishers who apply to distribute literature at these areas are doing so on their own initiative as part of their personal ministry.

Chapter 23 – Paragraph 10

Determining Who May Participate: The Congregation Service Committee will select qualified baptized publishers to participate in this feature of the ministry. Those selected should be ones who present themselves in a dignified way. Their appearance and dress should be professional, well-arranged, and modest. They should demonstrate discernment and a willingness to witness in different public settings, should enjoy and promote good relations with others, should be committed to taking the assignment seriously, and should and be willing to cooperate with the body of elders. If a parent is approved to participate in public witnessing, his well-behaved minor child (baptized or not) may accompany him. The service committee should use good judgment in deciding whether a mature baptized minor may be approved to participate in public witnessing.

Chapter 23 – Paragraph 17

Before setting up a literature display at a school or university or other school in which the students are adults, it is usually best to approach the school principal, headmaster, or dean of the school. Those making such visits should be forthright in identifying themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many educators gladly receive and make good use of our literature, videos, and online material once they are made aware of their availability and their educational value. (g 1/09 p. 32; g 8/07 p. 32) Schools or organizations for the deaf or the blind may especially appreciate knowing that Jehovah’s Witnesses provide literature in formats that may benefit such individuals. The service overseer may train well-qualified publishers approved by the Congregation Service Committee to visit schools and universities and other schools.

Chapter 23 – Paragraph 21

Individuals have a right to privacy and the right to prohibit anyone, including publishers, from entering their home or property. If a householder insists that no further visits to his home be made by Jehovah’s Witnesses, we respect his wishes. (Matt. 7:12; 10: 13) Only the date of the request and the address of the home A dated note should be placed in the territory record so that publishers working the territory in the future do not call at that address. The Annually, the service overseer should provide the Congregation Service Committee should use good judgment in deciding whether to the addresses of such households. The service committee should assign elders to contact such households visit or send a letter to these addresses every two or three years to confirm the person’s wishes. The body of elders can decide if the circumstances in a particular case make it advisable to handle things differently.

Multi-Language Fields

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 1

Our objective is to reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message and to make disciples. (1 Tim. 2:3, 4) Therefore, it is good for bodies of elders to understand and cooperate with arrangements made to support those who speak another language the foreign-language field. —od pp. 92-96.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 2

Pregroups: A foreign-language pregroup consists of a number of publishers who are preaching in a foreign language other than the language of the congregation, even though a qualified elder or ministerial servant is not available to conduct a weekly meeting in that language. The branch office may recognize a congregation as hosting a pregroup if the following requirements are met:
(1) A sizable population of people in the area speak a language other than the language of the congregation.
(2) At least a few publishers know the target language or are willing to learn the language.
(3) The body of elders is willing to take the lead in organizing the preaching in that language.
If the body of elders desires to host a pregroup, the elders should consult with the circuit overseer. He may be aware of other congregations attempting to preach to people of that language and may provide valuable information that would help in determining which congregation would be in the best position to host the pregroup. Once that congregation has been determined, the elders should may send a letter to the Service Department and request approval to be formally recognized as a congregation hosting a foreign-language pregroup.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 3

Groups: The branch office may recognize a congregation as hosting
a foreign-language group if the following requirements are met:
(1) There are sufficient interest and potential for growth in a particular language field.
(2) At least a small number of publishers speak the language or are learning the language.
(3) A qualified elder or ministerial servant is available to take the lead and conduct at least one weekly meeting—or one portion of a weekly meeting, such as a public talk or a Watchtower Study—in that language.—See 24:14-15.
(4) The body of elders is willing to host the group.
When these requirements are met to a reasonable degree, the body of elders should send a letter with complete details to the Service Department requesting formal recognition as a congregation hosting a foreign-language group. The elder or ministerial servant taking the lead would be considered the “group overseer” or “group servant” responsible for taking care of the group.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 7

Arrangements for covering the territory should comply with applicable data protection laws. — od pp.81 – 97. The search work is often a key to growth. As noted in the article “Before Preaching, You May Need to Search” in the July 2012 Our Kingdom Ministry, pages 4-7, the search work involves making inquiries to locate those who speak a specific language. Implementing the suggestions in the article will lead to a more productive ministry.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 10

Congregation territory assignments in multilingualanguage areas are made according to language. The direction in chapter 9 of the Organized book should be followed when working the territory. At times there will be some overlapping of our efforts—for example, when family members of the same household speak different languages. By concentrating our ministry on people who best understand or prefer the language of the congregation we attend, we can accomplish much good.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 14

Groups: In addition to the weekly meeting—or one portion of a weekly meeting—held by a foreign-language group, the body of elders of the host congregation may determine whether other portions of congregation meetings should be added and how often the meetings should be held during the month. For example, a group may hold a weekly Life and Ministry Meeting but arrange a public talk once or twice a month.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 15

A group should follow the meeting schedule as outlined in the target-language edition of the Life and Ministry Meeting Workbook. If the Life and Ministry Meeting Workbook is not produced in the target language, the elders may request a Congregation Bible Study schedule from the Service Department. The only portion of the Life and Ministry Meeting that a foreign-language group should not handle on its own is the local needs part when it has been specifically chosen by the body of elders for the host congregation.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 20

Recording Attendance: The attendance of the meetings of a pregroup or group is included with that of the host congregation in the Congregation Meeting Attendance Record (S-88). The only exception to this is if the meetings of the pregroup or group streamings or recordings are used are held at a time different from the host congregation’s meetings. In such cases, the attendance would not be included with the host congregation’s, since it is expected that the pregroup or group would have also attended the host congregation’s meeting. Neither would the attendance of a pregroup or group that tied in to another congregation’s meeting be included with the transmitting congregation’s attendance. In any case, a separate record of the attendance of a pregroup or group may be kept so that the elders can review its progress.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 24

A publisher desiring to learn another support a foreign-language to expand his ministry field should be commended and encouraged to count the cost. (Luke 14:28) This may involve learning a new language, adapting to a new culture and traveling farther from home in order to support preaching arrangements and meetings in the target language. Therefore, elders should encourage publishers to do research in our publications and evaluate matters carefully and prayerfully. For example, family heads must evaluate their children’s needs realistically, putting their children’s spiritual well-being ahead of personal preferences. (1 Cor. 10:24; w17.05 pp. 8-12; w16.10 pp. 13-17) Discussions about what it takes to be successful in the foreign-language field should be positive and realistic. If publishers decide to learn another language, a copy of Suggestions for Publishers Learning Another Language (S-394) should be provided to them.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 26

A publisher who has moved to a differentforeign-language congregation may need personal assistance if his struggle with the language is impeding his spiritual progress. Is the publisher beginning to comprehend the congregation meetings? Does he participate at the meetings, making brief comments? Does he give understandable presentations in the ministry? Is he staying spiritually strong, cultivating the fruitage of the spirit, and working for the peace of the congregation? The answers to such questions will guide the elders in determining what may need to be recommended to the publisher so that he maintains strong spirituality. In some cases, they may recommend that the publisher consider returning to a congregation in his native tongue.

Chapter 24 – Paragraph 27

Publishers in a pregroup or group are encouraged to attend assemblies and conventions held in the language of the pregroup or group, if they are able to do so, even if those events fall on the same weekends as the assemblies and conventions to which their host congregation has been assigned. When the assembly or convention of the host congregation is on a different weekend, some publishers may choose to attend both events, but they should not feel compelled to do so. Questions regarding the interpretation of circuit assemblies and conventions or tying in to or making use of recordings of foreign-language circuit assemblies and conventions in another language should be forwarded to the circuit overseer. If approval is given for foreign-language pregroups or groups to view recordings of assemblies or conventions in the target language, it is preferred that these recordings be viewed at the same time and in the same location that their host congregation attends the event, perhaps in an auxiliary room. If this is not possible, the pregroup or group should attend the event with their host congregation and then tie in to or watch a recording of the event in the target language at another time and location.


Chapter 25 – Paragraph 1

In imitation of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, elders “shepherd the flock of God” under their care. (1 Pet. 5:2, 3) This includes protecting the congregation so that no one is lost through neglect or because of the influence of Satan, the world, or apostate “wolves. (Acts 20:29, 30) It involves taking a loving and active interest in the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of others. (Jas. 1:27; 2:15, 16) The objective of shepherding is to impart a spiritual gift that is faith-strengthening and to provide needed commendation and encouragement. (Rom. 1:11, 12) This requires that elders maintain regular contact with each family in the congregation. (Prov. 27:23) While group overseers should arrange to shepherd periodically all in the groups, there is no need for the body of elders to keep records of shepherding calls. (See 7:2.4.) Nor is it necessary for the body of elders to assign one elder to make general shepherding call assignments. Whether serving as group overseers or not, all elders should sense their personal responsibility to shepherd the members of the congregation.—Eph. 4:15, 16.

Chapter 25 – Paragraph 2

One way elders shepherd the flock is by giving well-prepared Scriptural talks. Another is by engaging individuals members of the congregation in positive, encouraging conversations before and after the meetings and while sharing in the ministry. Still another means is by making shepherding calls. Effective shepherding calls may be made at the homes of the publishers, at the Kingdom Hall, or at other appropriate locations. Shepherding may also be provided by telephone or by letter.—John 21:15-17.

Chapter 25 – Paragraph 6

Under the direction of the elders, a group servant along with another ministerial servant may make spiritually encouraging visits on those in the group. (See 7:1.) The group servant should keep the elders updated after each such visit. If a confidential or serious matter comes up during the visit, the group servant should tactfully inform the publisher that it would be best for the matter to be handled by the elders.

Chapter 25 – Paragraph 10

If a Christian experiences marital difficulties resulting in one or both parties approaching the elders to seek help, the elders should provide loving counsel based on the Scriptures and Christian publications. If both mates are Christians members of the congregation, it is usually best to have both present. However, if only one mate is present, the elders will discuss what that one can do to improve the situation. Because elders cannot know everything that occurs in a marriage, they should avoid taking sides.—Prov. 18:13.

Disaster & Emergencies

Chapter 26 – Paragraph 5

Review Arrangements With the Body of Elders: Annually, during an quarterly elders’ meeting, the local preparations should be reviewed.

Chapter 26 – Paragraph 9

Update the Circuit Overseer: Once this information is gathered, the coordinator of the body of elders should immediately inform the circuit overseer of any damage and the health condition of those in the congregation members. He should also inform the circuit overseer if the Kingdom Hall was damaged or destroyed. Continue to provide daily updates until all of the publishers have been accounted for. When the circuit overseer has received the report from the elders, he will promptly contact the branch office. The branch office will determine whether there is a need for further assistance.


Chapter 27 – Paragraph 2

If available, an elder should be used to preside officiate at a Christian wedding. A couple may request a specific elder to give deliver their wedding talk. Otherwise, the body of elders may select an elder to do so. In many lands, the government authorizes ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses to administer the solemnize marriage vows.—w06 10/15 pp. 18-23.

Chapter 27 – Paragraph 3

An elder may preside officiate at a wedding of two Christians or of two unbaptized publishers who are progressing toward baptism. (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14; w04 7/1 pp. 30-31) Before agreeing to do so, he should consider the following:
(1) Confirm that the prospective bride and groom are Scripturally and legally free to marry, and confirm their standing in their respective congregations. (See 2:4.) Meet with the couple to make tactful but straightforward inquiries about their conduct during courtship.
(3) If either the prospective bride or groom was married before, he or she should have provided convincing evidence to the elders that establishes his or her Scriptural freedom to remarry. (Heb. 13:4; see 12:71- 76.) The elder presiding officating at the wedding should confirm this is the case and should review a copy of the divorce decree or other similar legal document used by the authorities to confirm that the divorce was finalized. If there is any question about the matter of Scriptural freedom to remarry, the body of elders should write to the Service Department to clarify matters before the wedding.
(3) An elder who decides to give a wedding talk officiating a marriage must confirm that he is permitted by law to administer the vows solemnize a marriage in the town or community where the wedding will take place. (Rom. 13:1) The local authorities may require that a minister who performs weddings register and provide proof of his ordination. In some lands many cases, the authorities may will accept a letter signed by the body of elders confirming the brother’s appointment as an elder in the local congregation. If this does not suffice, the elder should determine the exact requirements and then, if necessary, write to the Service Department for assistance. If the elder is not permitted by law to administer the vows, another elder who meets such legal requirements may administer the vows immediately after the wedding talk. The elder who administers the vows would complete the necessary documents.

Chapter 27 – Paragraph 5

The wedding talk is based on the outline “Honorable Marriage in God’s Sight” (S-41). The talk should highlight the God-given responsibilities that married couples must assume and carry out in harmony with the Scriptures. The talk should be delivered with love, warmth, dignity, honor, and seriousness. The speaker should resist the temptation to make funny remarks just for the sake of making the audience laugh, since this could betray a lack of respect for the audience and for God. During a wedding talk, the speaker should not project any moving video footage on screens or monitors. However, a few appropriate still images during such a talk are acceptable as visual aids. (See 20:20.) If any video footage is used before or after a wedding talk, it should be in good taste. The aforementioned direction regarding video footage also applies in connection with a funeral talk.

Chapter 27 – Paragraph 6

(5) If it is learned that the couple has engaged in serious wrongdoing that will require handling by a judicial committee, the couple may not use the Kingdom Hall. If neither is disfellowshipped, it is left to the discretion of the elder as to whether he will preside officiate at the wedding at another location.

Legal Matters

Chapter 29 – Paragraph 10

(3) Fund-Raising Programs: In these programs a donor offers to donate to a designated charitable organization based upon an individual’s commercial activity with the donor. For example, a grocery store may agree to donate a percentage of an individual’s purchases from that store. Frequently, these programs require the designated charitable organization to participate actively, such as by encouraging individuals its members and others to do business with the donor. The congregation, however, should not promote any type of commercial activity or solicit funds. Thus, publishers should not designate the branch office or a congregation to receive donations from a fund-raising program, and congregations should not participate in this type of program.

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