Technology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Technology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Linda Annunen

Analysis | English | Finland

Alexandra Berg, Åbo Akademi University

Alexandra Berg, first year student at Åbo Akademi University, has assisted the Finnish Recovira-team with participant observations for the projects’ aesthetic analysis. Here you can read about her observations and experiences when visiting the Jehovah’s Witnesses last winter.

Last year, in the gloomy midwinter, we went to visit the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were a well-dressed group of people, who treated us with warmth and consideration. We attended an event set in the Kingdom Hall’s main lecture hall; a large and bright room filled with dozens of people. I was excited and a bit nervous. I had never been to a Jehovah’s Witness event before. My nervousness proved to be unnecessary, because when we arrived everyone was hospitable and did their best to make us feel welcome.

I found it very interesting to notice how highly digitised the gathering was. There were two large TV screens in the front of the hall, angled downwards, so the audience could easily see them. The TVs were actively used during the sermon, displaying text or pictures relevant to the topic. At one point, everyone who was able to, stood up and sang together, and the lyrics were shown on the TV screens. The atmosphere in the room was relaxed. I got the impression that everyone was comfortable singing, and the songs were familiar to them.  There was a separate desk in the room with computer monitors. Towards the end of the sermon, the congregation watched videos portraying scenarios one might encounter when doing mission work, and how to navigate certain situations. 

The usage of mobile phones was highly encouraged during the lecture. Almost everyone had an app containing material and resources related to the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses. The event’s schedule and program were available in the app, as well as reading materials, such as Bible verses, think-pieces about life and faith, and issues of Watchtower. In an interactive section during the sermon, people received prompts on their apps, and they could answer questions posed in the app.

Various speakers spoke into microphones. There were microphones located by the individual seats. Many members of the audience took their turns to answer questions or give their insights. The sound was loud enough to be clearly heard, but at a comfortable volume suited to the hall’s size and acoustic capabilities. 

I really enjoyed the event and meeting all the people. They were very friendly and happy to converse with me. I was surprised at the smooth incorporation of technology, and it was very intriguing to meet so many new people.

-Alexandra Berg

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