There was a special announcement a few months ago saying that Book Study groups are being done away with starting in January 2009. Well take a look at these comments in the new book ("Keep Yourselves in God's Love") released at this year's conventions, under the heading "Be Obedient to Those Who Are Taking the Lead" on page 48:
In the Christian congregation today, there is a similar need for organization. That is why a book study group has an overseer, a congregation has elders, a group of congregations has a circuit overseer, a group of circuits has a district overseer, and a country has a Country Committee or a Branch Committee. Because of this organization, each man acting as a shepherd is able to pay close attention to Jehovah's sheep assigned to his care. Such shepherds are accountable to Jehovah and to Christ. - Acts 20:28
This can only mean that the decision to drop the Book Study was made in such a hurry this spring that it was too late to change the comments in the new book about how vital the book study is. Plus, when they rid of the Circuit Overseers, by the time this book is actually studied (at the abbreviated Ministry School "Bible Study" presumably) some time next year, two key components of this 'vital organisation' will have already vanished -- the Book Study and Circuit Overseers. What are ordinary Witnesses to make of these slapdash, ill-thought-out changes? If the organization is so vital why are they dismantling it?
Does this apparent rush indicate that dropping the Book Study was indeed a hasty change made for legal reasons? Perhaps because of prosecutions against the Society for crimes committed at book study venues?
At least when they made the "generation" change in 1995 there seems to have been a run-up period of 6 months to a year where they did not reiterate the "old light" before introducing the new. With these structural changes it seems like they are being made on a whim, with no forward planning, and nobody warning the writing department about what is in the pipeline.
There is no grand strategy. I wonder if the Governing Body even knows what the hell they are doing.
Just had another thought. It's one thing to move the Book Study out of private homes, but what about the pillar of door to door witnessing, Saturday morning field service? If "liability" is the reason to move the Book Study out of homes, seems like that same "liability" would exist for meetings for service. So, maybe move Saturday meetings for service to the Kingdom Hall?
But some Kingdom Halls have 2, 3, maye even 5 congregations sharing the building. If you've got 500-600 publishers sharing one building, what happens when 250 of them show up at 9:30 Saturday morning, fighting over parking spots, exceeding the fire code's maximum building occupancy, etc.?
The GB mentioned absolutely nothing about how Saturday morning field service will be handled in their original letter. This is an indication that they haven't worked it out yet...another signal that they are just making this up as they go along.
I'll let you know if I hear anything definitive.