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How the Congregation Is Organized

How the Congregation Is Organized

Jehovah is a God of order. (1 Corinthians 14:33) So we would expect that his people would be organized. How is the Christian congregation organized? How can we contribute to its success?

1. Who is the head of the congregation?

“Christ is head of the congregation.” (Ephesians 5:23) From heaven, he oversees the activities of Jehovah’s people worldwide. Jesus appointed “the faithful and discreet slave”​—a small group of mature elders also known as the Governing Body. (Read Matthew 24:45-47.) Like the first-century apostles and elders in Jerusalem, the Governing Body gives direction to the global congregation. (Acts 15:2) But these men are not the leaders of our organization. They look to Jehovah and his Word for guidance, and they submit to Jesus’ headship.

2. What is the role of the elders?

Elders are mature Christian men who teach from the Scriptures and shepherd Jehovah’s people by helping and encouraging them. They are not paid for their work. Rather, they serve “willingly before God; not for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly.” (1 Peter 5:1, 2) Elders are assisted by ministerial servants, who, in time, may qualify to serve as elders themselves.

The Governing Body appoints some elders to be circuit overseers. They visit various congregations to give guidance and encouragement. They appoint elders and ministerial servants, who must meet the Scriptural requirements.​—1 Timothy 3:1-10, 12; Titus 1:5-9.

3. What is the role of each Witness?

All in the congregation “praise the name of Jehovah” by participating at congregation meetings and sharing in the ministry according to their circumstances.​—Read Psalm 148:12, 13.


Learn what kind of leader Jesus is, how elders try to imitate his example, and how we can cooperate with Jesus and the elders.

4. Jesus is a refreshing leader

Jesus offers us an appealing invitation. Read Matthew 11:28-30, and then discuss this question:

  • How does Jesus want us to feel about his leadership?

How do elders imitate Jesus’ example? Play the VIDEO.

The Bible clearly teaches how elders should do their work.

Read Isaiah 32:2 and 1 Peter 5:1-3, and then discuss these questions:

  • How does it make you feel to know that, like Jesus, the elders endeavor to refresh others?

  • What are some other ways in which the elders imitate Jesus?

5. Elders teach by example

How does Jesus want elders to view their role? Play the VIDEO.

Jesus set the standard for those who take the lead in the congregation. Read Matthew 23:8-12, and then discuss this question:

  • What impresses you about the difference between the Bible’s standard for elders and what you have observed in religious leaders?

  1. Elders keep themselves and their families spiritually strong

  2. Elders care for all in the congregation

  3. Elders preach regularly

  4. Elders are teachers. They also help with cleaning and other tasks

6. We can cooperate with the elders

The Bible gives us an important reason to cooperate with the elders. Read Hebrews 13:17, and then discuss these questions:

  • Is it reasonable that the Bible encourages us to be obedient and submissive to those taking the lead? Why, or why not?

Read Luke 16:10, and then discuss this question:

  • Why is it important to cooperate with the elders even in seemingly small matters?

SOME PEOPLE SAY: “You don’t need to belong to an organized religion.”

  • What benefits can you think of that come to a person for worshipping God as part of a congregation?


Jesus is the head of the congregation. We gladly cooperate with the elders serving under him because they refresh us and teach us by example.


  • Who is the head of the congregation?

  • How do the elders help the congregation?

  • What is the role of each of Jehovah’s worshippers?



See evidence of the great concern that the Governing Body and other elders have for Christians today.

Strengthening the Brothers Under Ban (4:22)

Learn about the work that circuit overseers do.

The Life of a Rural Circuit Overseer (4:51)

Find out how elders work hard to encourage their fellow believers.

“Christian Elders​—‘Fellow Workers for Our Joy’” (The Watchtower, January 15, 2013)