We began Beroean Pickets in April of 2011, but regular publishing didn’t begin until January of the next year. Though initially started to provide a safe gathering place for truth-loving Jehovah’s Witnesses interested in deeper Bible Study far from the watchful eye of orthodoxy, it has become so much more. We are truly humbled by the support and encouragement of the thousands who regularly visit the site to read and also contribute their own research. Along the way, we saw the need for a sister site – Discuss the Truth – as a forum to provide other sincere Bible researchers with the means to initiate discussion topics of their own. This has greatly benefited our own research. We have come to see that the holy spirit does not percolate down through an ecclesiastical hierarchy but, as it did at Pentecost, it fills all in the congregation with a burning flame.
We started Beroean Pickets thinking we’d be fortunate to find a dozen or so brothers and sisters willing to participate. How wrong we were! To date, the two sites have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and visited by tens of thousands from over 150 countries and islands of the sea. We are overwhelmed by this response. Peter and James spoke of the “temporary residents” and “the twelve tribes that are scattered about”. Paul often referred to them as the “holy ones”. It seems evident that the scattering of holy ones is now worldwide.
The question that has been on our minds for some time is: Where do we go from here?
Avoiding a Repeat of History
We are Christians, drawn together by spirit, but without ecclesiastical denomination. “Christian” was the name given to our first century brethren, and it is the only name by which we care to be known. Our job as Christians is to declare the good news of the Christ until he returns. We cherish the hope extended by our Lord Jesus to be sons of God and are honored by the opportunity to become ambassadors substituting for him.
Yet now, in the 21st century, how can we best go about doing that?
Before we can answer questions about the future, we have to look at the past, else we will end up repeating the mistakes and sins of Christian history. We have no wish to become as just another Christian denomination.
“. . .Do YOU not know that YOUR bodies are members of Christ? Shall I, then, take the members of the Christ away and make them members of a harlot? Never may that happen!” (1Co 6:15 NWT)
We will not contribute to more of the harlotry that defines Christendom today. Though the billions of humans professing Christianity around the globe share the commission to preach the good news, their message has been perverted by organized religion to suit the needs of men. (By “organized religion” we mean religions organized under the control and leadership of ecclesiastical hierarchies that determine what is right and what is wrong.) These ones have fallen prey to the trap that ensnared the first human couple. Their followers prefer to obey men rather than God.
What we desire to do is to preach the good news of salvation, of the Christ, of the Kingdom of God, free of any denomination and free of the rule of man. We want to proclaim the Lord until he returns and to make disciples of him—not of ourselves. (Mt 28:19, 20)
We have no desire to organize nor set up a centralized governing authority of any kind. We take no issue with being organized per se, but when organization turns into government, we must draw the line. We have but one leader, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is more than capable of organizing his people into localized groups to carry out worshipful service, express love, encourage one another, and declare the good news. (Mt 23:10; He 10:23-25)
We have been expressly prohibited by Jesus from becoming leaders of the Christian congregation. (Mt 23:10)
Where Do We Go From Here?
Returning to our original question, it would go contrary to what we’ve just stated to make the decision for ourselves.
In Judge Rutherford, we saw where the rule of one man can take us. Thousands were deceived by the false expectation surrounding 1925 and millions have been denied the hope of becoming sons of God and serving in Christ’s heavenly kingdom. The formation of a Governing Body in the mid-1970s has done little to change the landscape. Of late, they have assumed a similar authoritarian stance to that of Rutherford.
Yet a decision has to be made by someone or nothing can be accomplished.
How can we let Jesus rule?
The answer is to be found in the inspired Christian record.
Letting Jesus Rule
When Judas’ office was to be filled, the decision wasn’t made by the 11 apostles even though they were indisputably appointed by Jesus. They did not go off into a closed room to deliberate secretly, but instead involved the entire congregation of anointed ones at that time.
“. . .During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (the number of people was altogether about 120) and said: 16 “Men, brothers, it was necessary for the scripture to be fulfilled that the holy spirit spoke prophetically through David about Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he had been numbered among us and he obtained a share in this ministry. 21 It is therefore necessary that of the men who accompanied us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus carried on his activities among us, 22 starting with his baptism by John until the day he was taken up from us, one of these men should become a witness with us of his resurrection.”” (Ac 1:15-17, 21, 22 NWT)
The apostles laid down the guidelines for candidate selection, but it was the congregation of 120 that put forward the final two. Even these were not selected by the apostles, but by the casting of lots.
Later, when there was a need to find helpers for the apostles (ministerial servants) they again put the decision into the hands of the spirit-guided community.
“. . .So the Twelve called the multitude of the disciples together and said: “It is not right for us to leave the word of God to distribute food to tables. 3 So, brothers, select for yourselves seven reputable men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary matter; 4 but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 What they said was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit, as well as Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 They brought them to the apostles, and after praying, they laid their hands on them.” (Ac 6:2-6 NWT)
Then again, when there arose the issue of circumcision, it was the whole congregation that got involved.
“Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole congregation, decided to send chosen men from among them to Antioch, along with Paul and Barnabas; they sent Judas who was called Barsabbas and Silas, who were leading men among the brothers.” (Ac 15:22)
We know of no Christian denomination that utilizes this Scriptural approach, but we can see no better way to let Jesus direct us than to involve the entire Christian community in the decision-making process. With the internet, we now have the tools to make this possible on a worldwide scale.
We wish to preach the good news free from doctrinal deviation. It is the pure message that should be preached, not one laced with human interpretation and speculation. This is the commission of every true Christian. It is our mina. (Luke 19:11-27)
This we have strived to do with Beroean Pickets and Discuss the Truth. However, both sites – Beroean Pickets in particular – are undeniably JW-centric.
We believe the preaching of the good news would best be served by a site that is untainted by past affiliations. A site that is only and purely Christian.
Of course, our current sites will continue for as long as the Lord wills and as long as they continue to fill a need. In fact, we hope soon to see Beroean Pickets expanding into other languages. However, since our commission is to preach the good news to all the nations, not just one tiny minority, we feel a separate site will best accomplish that task.
We envision a Bible study site, with all the basic truths of the scriptures clearly laid out and categorized for easy reference. Perhaps there could be Bible study aids in the form of downloadable electronic copy, or even in printed form. Another option would be an anonymous one-on-one chat feature, such as is commonly used by corporations to provide on-line tech support. In our case we would be providing support of the scriptural and spiritual kind. This would allow for a larger community to directly engage in the preaching and disciple-making work through the site.
This site would be without affiliation to any denomination. It would be a teaching site only. To reiterate what was stated above, we have no desire to form yet another religion. We’re quite content to be in the one that Jesus started two thousand years ago and which he still leads.
As you can see, this would require a lot of work.
We are few and of limited resources. As Paul did, we have been funding this work with our own capital and our own time. It has been our honor and joy to be able to contribute what little we have toward doing the Lord’s work. However, we have pretty much reached the limit of our resources. The harvest is great, but the workers are few, so we are begging the master of the harvest to send in more workers. (Mt 9:37)
Investing Your Mina
Each of us has been given a commission to preach and make disciples. (Mt 28:19, 20) But each of us is different. We have been given different gifts.
“To the extent that each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness that is expressed in various ways.” (1Pe 4:10 NWT)
Our master has given us all a mina. How are we to make it grow? (Luke 19:11-27)
We can do so by contributing our time, skills and our material resources.
The Question of Money
There is no glory in possessing a wonderful, life-altering message and then hiding it under a bushel. How are we to let our light shine? (Mt 5:15) How can we make people aware of this valuable resource of unbiased Scriptural truth free from the confines imposed by organized religion? Should we rely solely on word of mouth and passive search engine hits? Or should we take a more proactive approach, like Paul standing up in the Areopagus and publicly preaching “an unknown God”? There are many modern venues open to us to advertise our message. But few, if any, are free.
There is a much deserved stigma attached to the request for funds in the name of God, because it has been so widely abused. On the other hand, Jesus said:
““Also, I say to you: Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling places.” (Lu 16:9 NWT)
This shows that the unrighteous riches have their use. By their proper use, we can make friends with those who can receive us “into the everlasting dwelling places.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses are brought up with the idea that we must preach from door-to-door to be saved. When we learn that there are key doctrines of our faith that are false, we are conflicted. On the one hand, we need to preach. This is part of the DNA of any true Christian, not just those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, we want our preaching to be free from false doctrine. We want to further the true message of the good news.
We who have founded these sites have felt no misgivings about donating the monies we once gave to the Watchtower Society to fund our current work. It is our belief that others will feel similarly. However, it is justifiable should they be concerned about the funds being misused. Again, we want to avoid the mistakes of the past (and the present). To that end, we will be open as to how the funds are being used.
The Need for Anonymity
While willing to be a martyr for the Lord if called upon, a Christian should not carelessly nor brazenly face the lion. Jesus told us to be as cautious as serpents [afraid of being stepped on] and as innocent as doves. (Mt 10:16)
What if those who oppose us try to use the tool of a frivolous lawsuit simply to discover the identity of the ones publishing this good news? They could then, as they have in the past, use the weapon of excommunication, aka “disfellowshipping”, (See Awake Jan. 8, 1947, pg, 27 or this post.) to carry out persecution.
While expanding this ministry, we need to ensure that what is published is protected under copyright law. We also need to make sure that frivolous legal action cannot be used to backtrack funds to individuals. In short, we need the protection of Caesar’s law to ensure anonymity, and defend and legally establish the good news. (Phil. 1:7)
We do not know if the ideas and plans just expressed conform to God’s will. We do not know if they will meet with Christ’s approval. We believe the only way to determine that is to seek the direction of the spirit in this matter. This, short of divine revelation, can only be achieved by getting input from the whole of the spirit-directed community of the “holy ones” who are “scattered about”.
Therefore, we would like ask you all to participate in an anonymous survey. If this proves to have the Lord’s blessing, it may well be the tool we use to continue to seek his guidance, for he doesn’t speak through any one of us as some type of modern-day “Generalissimo” nor does he speak through a committee, a Governing Body, as it were. He speaks through the body of Christ, the temple of God. He speaks through all. (1 Cor. 12:27)
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for supporting us these past years.
Your brothers in Christ.
The Survey is now closed. Thanks to all who participated