How to Set Up and Run the Congregation (Ecclessia) – JW vs Bible Student Perspective

THE RECORDING IS NOW AVAILABLE.  CLICK HERE TO LISTEN:  2011-10-02 LenGriehs_CongregationOrganization

On Sunday, October 2, a Bible Student  elder, Leonard Griehs, was the guest on a conference call with Richard Rawe and other Ex-JWs.  He answered the question, “How is the Congregation (Ecclesia) to be set up and run according to the Bible?”

The Conference Call begins at 12:00 pm PDT.  You can join at any time at or before 12:00.

The call in phone # is 218-548-3324.
The Pass Code (pin#) is 534929 followed by the # (pound) sign.
To mute or unmute your phone, press * (star) 6.

You should try this as soon as you can just to make sure your phone # has no problem calling the conference.

Leonard Griehs will begin by presenting the Bible Student position (45 minute), then discussion with questions, answers and comments will open up to the entire group of callers.

Beginning time by time zone:
Pacific (PDD)   12:00 pm
Central (CDT)   2:00 pm
Eastern (EDT)   3:00 pm



Here is a recap of some of the material he will cover:

The Ecclesia Arrangement and Its Benefit

… Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone.

1 Thessalonians. 5:14b, Contemporary English Version

“Church and culture analyst George Barna says …about 50 million American adults meet in home churches … and the numbers …are on the increase.  Barna says home churches are a growing trend among Christians who want to “be” the church, not just attend church…they are seeking greater depth in relationships and more commitment to spirituality than they may have found in traditional church settings.  –Agape Press

  • Acts 2:46, NIV   Every day they continued to meet together in the Temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
  • Acts 20:20, NIV  You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you, but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
  • Rom. 16:3-5; Col. 4:15; Phil. 1:2  Greet Priscilla and Aquila…also the church that meets at their house.  Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. To Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home.

Ecclesia is opportunity for Building together

  • Philippians 2:11-13
  • and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.   So then, my beloved,  just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your  salvation with  fear and trembling;    for it is  God who is at work in you, both to will and to work  for His good pleasure.
  • Ephesians 2:19b-22
  • you are  fellow citizens with the saints, and are of  God’s household,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,  Christ Jesus Himself being the  corner stone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,   in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ecclesia Is Similar to Family

  • Atmosphere of love conducive to individual growth and contribution
  • Ecclesia will grow strong and mature only as each member functions
  • Becomes weak and anemic if only a few gifted ones keep things going

Ecclesia Is God’s Method For Development of Church

  • Spiritual building cannot easily be accomplished in large crowds such as conventions
  • Requires environment of small groups
  • Intimate knitting of lives together

Four characteristics of a strong Ecclesia

  • (1)    Bonding
  • (2)    Maturing
  • (3)    Equipping
  • (4)    Reproducing


  • Ephesians 4:12, 15-16  And He gave . . .for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…but speaking the truth in love, we are to  grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom  the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself  in love.
  • Being fitted together is process, not one time event
  • Body can only be strong as union between members
  • Bonding of lives together in Christ is of supreme importance to proper functioning and cohesiveness
  • Colossians 3:12-16  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved,  put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and  forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;  just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you…teaching and admonishing one another  with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,  singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God


  • Matthew 5:13-14:  You are the salt of the earth. . .   You are the light of the world
  • We are not called to give salt, but to be salt
  • Cannot develop fruits of spirit and be built together in relationship apart from growing in character of Christ
  • Develop Character in Ecclesia
  • In large gathering, Christian can hide weaknesses in character development
  • Intimate environment of ecclesia, weakness becomes apparent
  • Healthy ecclesia meetings provide confrontation, admonishment, growth


  • Working of each individual part essential to growth and ministry of ecclesia
  • Each member must be equipped for work to which are called
  • Ephesians 4:11:  …He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers…
  • Ecclesia is Training Ground
  • Train individuals  how to function as fellow member in Christ
  • Encouraged to step out in faith in atmosphere of love and acceptance
  • Strong ecclesia becomes seed bed from which movement work emerges
    Volume 6,   p. 280  “…If the proper zeal actuates them (elders) some kind of missionary or evangelistic work will soon claim some of them, or portions of the time of many.  Each Ecclesia should thus be a theological seminary from which efficient teachers would continually be going forth to wider fields of service.”


  • Human Body Grows As Healthy Cells Multiply and Divide
  • Ecclesia grows as healthy members reproduce life of Christ in others
  • Work of service is not just to bless one another, but to find others desiring to follow
  • Without witnessing, can become stagnant, internally focused

Activities to develop characteristics

  • (1)    Prayer and devotion
  • (2)    Studies
  • (3)    Fellowship
  • (4)    Commitment to Unity

Prayer and devotion

  • Importance of Devotional Service
  • Volume 6, p. 319 “Our fourth proposition:  Growth in knowledge is very liable to detract from devotion…our time for religious things (is) so limited, that if attention be energetically directed in one channel it is apt to lead to dwarfing in other directions….“…The Christian is not to be all head and no heart, nor all heart and no head…The New Creation needs, therefore, not only to unite devotional services, prayer and praise, as a part of every meeting, but, we believe, needs in addition a special meeting of a devotional kind…“…joined with which should be opportunities for testimony respecting Christian experiences—not according to the usual custom of going back…years to talk about a first conversion, but an up-to-date testimony, referring specifically to the condition of the heart at the moment…“…Such…testimonies prove helpful to those who hear; sometimes encouraging them by the rehearsal of favorable experiences, and sometimes comforting them by the narration of trial, difficulties, perplexities, because they thus discern that they are not alone in having trying experiences, and sometimes failures.”
  • Testimony Meetings Help Brethren To Know Each Other on Intimate Basis
  • Must be freedom to express anything or effect is greatly diminished
  • Place to discuss problems, difficulties that arise in class
  • Helps to develop compassion for needs of others
  • Inhibited brethren often open up and share when they see others do so


  • Volume 6, p. 312
  • Character of the Meetings
    “…on this subject, the Lord’s people are…left free to adapt themselves to the changing conditions of time and country, left free in the exercise of the spirit of a sound mind, left free to seek the wisdom that cometh from above…The chief lesson is that of mutual helpfulness…”
  • Strong Foundation Necessary
  • Can become led by emotions, biases
  • 1 Timothy 4:13:  Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
  • Ecclesia should be primary place of doctrinal instruction
  • Volume 6, p. 318
  • “”No matter how confident we are that we have the truth, it would certainly be unwise for us to shut and lock the door of interrogation and contrary expressions as thoroughly to exclude all that might be considered error by the leader of the meeting or by the entire congregation”
  •  All members should be able to express themselves or ask questions
  • If difference of opinion, opportunity should be given to “present case”
  • Fair hearing and fair discussion
  • Allows for learning opportunities
  • Devoting a study to discussing difference


  • Importance of Fellowship Underestimated
  • Means “common sharing”
  • Early brethren “devoted” to fellowship
  • Participating and sharing common vision, purpose and goal
  • Should develop sense of family
  • Fellowship Not Just  Social Gathering
  • Sharing around Lord and His work
  • Building lives together helps bonding
  • Must go beyond superficial relationships andcliques
  • Building Through Fellowship
  • Sharing material possessions when needed
  • Taking care of brethren in need
  • Witnessing together

Commitment to Unity

  • John 17:21
  • “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
  • Volume 6, p. 240  “Unity of faith is desirable; it is to be striven for—yet not the kind of unity that is generally aimed at.  Unity is to be along the lines of ‘the faith once delivered unto the saints’ in its purity and simplicity, and with full liberty to each member to take different views of minor points, and with no instruction whatever in respect to human speculations, theories…“…The scriptural idea of unity is upon the foundation principles of the Gospel.  our redemption through the precious blood, and our justification by faith therein.our consecration, sanctification, setting apart to the Lord, the Truth and their service—including the service of the brethren…“..              (3) Aside from these essentials, upon which unity must be demanded, there can be no scriptural fellowship—upon every other point fullest liberty is to be accorded with, however, a desire to see, and to help others to see, the divine plan in its every feature and detail.  “ Thus each member of the body of Christ, maintaining his own personal liberty, is so thoroughly devoted to the Head and to all the members that it will be his pleasure to lay down all, even life itself on their behalf.”

What Does Unity Mean?

  1. Not choice between truth and unity or truth and love
  2. Unity is like putting opposite poles of magnets together
  3.  Patience Accompanied By  Sense of Priority
  4. Priority:  Romans 14
  • Some things more important than others
  • Everything you believe in cannot be at top of your list
  • If married more than week, know some things worth fighting for, others are not
  • What is acceptable, what is not acceptable without details

Prayer Used To Unify

  • Easy to fight with each other Not easy to fight when you pray together before God
  • When you have disagreement, before  debate, spend time together in prayer
  • Not “Lord, change him”
  • Pray for peace, patience, kindness
  •  Then discuss problem

Paul’s advice to Maintain a cohesive ecclesia
“My friends, we beg you to warn anyone who isn’t living right. Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone”  –1 Thess. 5:14

6 comments to How to Set Up and Run the Congregation (Ecclessia) – JW vs Bible Student Perspective

  • Dupin


    The invitation is appreciated, however, the group I joined has a study on Wednesday. I’m going to try to keep up with the schedule for Rawe’s teleconference, I think it I may join in on those from time to time.

    I’ve been curious for some time as to where he ended up going spiritually after what happened to him when the body of elders arrangement was implemented. That was about the time I started up with the Witnesses. Since I read his story a couple of years ago I’ve felt that if anybody had more reasons to hate the Witnesses than me, it would be him.

    I got the impression from him that he would agree with me that not only is hate ungodly, but a waste of time and emotion we could put to better use in our Lord’s interests.

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Dupin – Richard Rawe usually calls into and participates in our Wednesday night study. You can get his phone # there or you can give me you can contact me directly through the contact section of this website and I will get you his phone #. I think Richard Rawe is a loving brother in Christ. However, I will let him personally answer your questions, rather than me speaking for him.

  • Dupin

    I found the discussion in audio quite interesting.

    Although I have interacted with bible Students by means of forums for some years now I recently became part of a teleconferencing group because I live in an area relatively isolated from the ecclesias. Since I’m new to that I’ve started out kind of unsure about a number of things regarding Bible Student meetings and how to conduct myself. The lecture Br. Griehs gave and the notes published here is quite informative for somebody relatively new. Thanks for providing the audio file!

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Dupin – We have a Wednesday Conference Call Bible study that we advertise on our site each week. The study leader is Br. Griehs and you are welcome to call in and join us if and when you have the time and opportunity.

  • val

    A gift for you from the wilderness…Truth. God is precise: It is a woman Rev 12 that delivers the true word John1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 who restores Acts 3:21 all things to the world before Christ’s return. This woman exposes the lies of Satan who has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9. This woman creates a new thing in the earth by fulfilling God’s promise to Eve Gen 3:15, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16. Moses and Elijah are together with the word Matt 17:3 they all three are in this one woman. She is like unto Moses Num 12:3. She was raised up Acts 3:22 from the Laodicean church that becomes lukewarm because they refused to hear her Rev 3:14-17. She is bold like Elijah Matt 17:11, Luke 1:17. As Elijah was alone declaring the true God to the people 1 Kings 18:22 so also her witness alone turns the hearts of the fathers to the children Mal 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the Lords return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord Matt 17:3, Luke 9:30. Those who will not hear Acts 3:23 the true word of God she now delivers to the world free of charge, as a witness, at the heel of time from the wilderness Rev 12:6 will not be allowed inside the walls of God’s coming kingdom from heaven Rev 21. This true testimony of the true value of the blood of the Lamb delivers the truth that not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. God created evil Isa 45:7 to teach his children the knowledge of good and evil Rom 8:7, Gen 3:22 so that at their resurrection they become a god Matt 22:29-30, Ps 82:6 and are placed Ezek 37:26 in God’s world. Prove all things. You cannot rightly judge this unless you read all that has been written by this woman first Pro 18:13. Start here
    God has all power, Satan has none. God will not fail at saving anyone 1 Cor 13:8. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God Rom 14:11. When they confess God is just to forgive them and cleanse them from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9, each in their own order 1 Cor 15:23 according to their hearts of love. Many are called few are chosen to live forever in his coming New Jerusalem Rev 21 on the new earth in the new heaven, none will be lost John 17:12 except one, Satan’s son the son of perdition. All of God’s children will have a place Ezek 37:26 all will be given new hearts and new minds some justly will be placed in outer darkness Matt 8:12. Outer darkness is not death it is placement on another planet far from the new earth in the new heavens.

    • Jacqueline

      Hi Val, thank you for commenting. I see you have from your study of the bible discerned that there is not a burning hell. I agree with you. I am going to read some of the other points you have made. Godspeed

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