Promoting Bible Education
We are probably best known for our person-to-person ministry. Each congregation tries to reach all the people in its neighborhood with a brief Bible message. This is usually done by Witnesses visiting from door to door. We will also talk to people on the streets, in parks and in other public places—wherever someone can be found who has a spiritual interest and a few minutes to talk. This approach is the same as that used by Jesus Christ and his apostles. The apostle Paul, for example, said, “I did not hold back . . . from teaching you publicly and from house to house.”—Acts 20:20.
If a Witness finds someone who is interested in learning more about the Bible, further discussions can be arranged, or an appointment for a weekly home Bible study can be made.
We take time for this ministry because we care about our neighbors and we believe in the value of the message we are sharing with them. We have found that following the Bible’s practical principles strengthens family ties, helps people cope with the stresses of life, allows them to get to know God as a real person, and helps them to get along better with friends and neighbors.
What reaction do we receive? Many people we meet are indifferent. A few are hostile. But there are always those who appreciate what they hear. “Thank you for coming around and sharing the love of the Lord with others,” one woman wrote to one of our branch offices. “That simple act does so very much for others. It truly does a world of good to have someone come by to remind you of spiritual things.”
Worldwide publishing and translating
We have developed an unparalleled worldwide organization capable of providing free Bible education to all who wish to understand the Bible better. Since the 1870’s, our publishing agencies have produced a truly immense quantity of Bible literature, as can be seen from the details below.
The Watch Tower Society has produced literature in 594 languages and calls on the services of more than 3,200 volunteers to assist with translation worldwide.
In the early 1980’s, a team of volunteers developed the world’s first multilanguage electronic publishing system, which currently has the capacity to process material in 741 languages, using 31 alphabets and character sets.
English Braille literature has been produced since 1912. Braille publications are available in 17 other languages.
For the deaf, various video publications have been produced in American Sign Language and 61 other sign languages.
Since 1926, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania has published more than 178 million copies of the Bible in 108 languages.
Magazines, books, and research materials
The Watchtower, the primary Bible study aid for members of the faith, has an average printing of 42.1 million, giving it the largest circulation of any religious magazine in the world. It is published in 194 languages. All these editions are translated and printed for simultaneous release.
Awake!, published in 84 languages, is a general-interest newsmagazine with a religious slant and has an average printing of 41 million.
What Does the Bible Really Teach? is the introductory textbook used extensively in our home Bible Study program. More than 179 million copies have been produced in 244 languages since the book was released in 2005.
The Watch Tower Society has produced Bible encyclopedias, concordances, and study guides for in-depth research on specific Bible topics.
Since 1997, we have maintained and updated the Web site www.watchtower.org, which provides accurate information about our beliefs and activities. It contains a selection of tracts, brochures, and articles from the journals The Watchtower and Awake! As of February 2012, the Web site includes published educational information in 438 languages, from English, Chinese, French, and Spanish to Assyrian, Bengali, Portuguese, and Twi, as well as videos in American, Brazilian, Colombian, Japanese, and Russian sign languages. Among other helpful details, the Web site makes available the postal addresses of branch offices around the globe, where people can obtain more information or request personal assistance from Witnesses locally. Audio downloads of publications are available on www.jw.org, and both sites link to this Web site, which is especially designed as an online resource for the media.
Audio and video publications
The Watch Tower Society has produced 26 documentary videos on a variety of historical and Biblical topics, in 104 languages.
The complete Bible is available in the MP3 format in English and a number of other languages. Introductory textbooks, brochures, and current issues of The Watchtower and Awake! are available in the compact disc or MP3 formats.
Why do you go from door to door?
Jesus told his followers to “make disciples of people of all the nations,” and he set the example by “journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.” The apostle Paul taught in public places, in the marketplace, and from house to house. We follow their example. Other religions have acknowledged the Christian obligation to preach in public places and from house to house, although this is often left to a limited group of missionaries or clergy to fulfill.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Luke 8:1; Acts 20:20.
Why do you continue to call on people who are not interested in your faith?
We do not force our message on others but recognize that people’s circumstances change. They move. They may be too busy to listen one day but will gladly take the time another day. One member of a household may not be interested, but others may be. People may have new problems or situations to deal with, stimulating a spiritual interest that was not there before.