How do you count the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
We count as Jehovah’s Witnesses only those who are actively preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom each month. (Matthew 24:14) This includes those who have been baptized as Witnesses as well as those who, though not yet baptized, qualify to share in the preaching work.
Does a person have to donate money to be counted as a Witness?
No. Donations have no relevance as to whether a person is counted as a Witness or has any particular assignment or privilege in our organization. (Acts 8:18-20) In fact, most donations are made anonymously. Each Witness donates his time, energy, and resources to our worldwide work according to his own desire and circumstances.—2 Corinthians 9:7.
How do you know how many are actively witnessing?
Each month, Witnesses report their preaching activity to their local congregation. This report is made voluntarily.
Congregation reports are tabulated, and the totals are sent to the local branch office. The branch sends the totals for each country or territory to our world headquarters.
At the end of every service year, * the peak number of Witnesses for each land during that year is determined. These figures are added together to determine the number of Witnesses worldwide. Detailed reports for each country are published in the “Around the World” section on our website. These reports encourage us, just as similar reports encouraged the early Christians.—Acts 2:41; 4:4; 15:3.
Do you count those associated with your organization who do not preach?
Although we do not include such ones in the number of Witnesses, we welcome them in our congregations. Most of them attend the annual Memorial of Christ’s death, so the number of such ones can be roughly determined by the difference between the attendance at this meeting and the number of Witnesses. In 2020, the attendance at the Memorial was 17,844,773.
Many who do not attend our meetings benefit from our free home Bible study program. During 2020, we conducted an average of 7,705,765 Bible studies each month, some of which were held with several individuals at the same time.
Why are government census figures for the number of Witnesses higher than your figures?
Government census bureaus often determine their figures by asking people which religious group they identify themselves with. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau states that their surveys “sought to determine whether the respondents regarded themselves as adherents of a religious community,” adding that the resulting figures are “subjective rather than objective.” By contrast, we count as Jehovah’s Witnesses only those who preach to others and who report that activity, not those who merely identify themselves as Witnesses.
^ par. 5 A service year runs from September 1 to August 31 of the next calendar year. For example, the 2015 service year ran from September 1, 2014, through August 31, 2015.