By Joni Valkila
In addition to Watchtower’s concerns about financial donations, the age pyramid threatens their membership. While I don’t have the hard numbers internationally, I have the numbers for Finland.
It is worthwhile to note the following interrelated factors:
1) a low birth-rate among Jehovah’s Witnesses because Watchtower has discouraged its members from having children for decades
2) a decline in the number of converts since the mid-1990s
3) a collapse in the number of baptisms since the mid-1990s
4) young people leaving the organization.
The net result is a very aged population.
We have fairly reliable government statistics about the age structure of JWs in Finland. Guess how many are over 65 years old? It’s 28% of JWs in Finland. This is a population of very poor future prospects.
There have been fewer JWs in proportion to the population since 2001. As the decline no doubt continues, at some point it could lead to a collapse of congregations and the organization. It’s a sinking ship.
Who wants to give their money or time to an organization that doesn’t seem to have a future? Kingdom halls are being sold. The few people who still go to meetings are mostly old people.
But, I have to say though that the product JWs sell—eternal life in a paradise earth, albeit at a heavy price to the members—is very good. Watchtower still might find new markets and millions of new gullible people who want to believe they can live forever, and are willing to give their money to help make that possible.
You can get to know more about Joni Valkila by going to his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/valkila
Interesting statistics about the ages of JWs, and more, in the United States at http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/religious-tradition/jehovahs-witness/#age-distribution
To be fair, it is a problem that faces many mainstream denominations but at least it stops the JWs from being too triumphalist. Maybe they will learn a little more humility.
We can only hope, James. But in an extreme hierarchy, humility at the top generally never happens.