A lot has been said about how the RBC was a major financial driver in JW ecosystem. This has been especially true in the past few decades as the organization transitioned out of the publishing business and into a real estate driven business model. Free labor can really make things profitable quickly.
However, the RBC has historically had an important role in the JW society. I think we can all agree that the vast majority of witnesses, even those that are very devout, do not enjoy service. That is why breaks are so frequent and pioneers stroll so slowly. Of course, so much of ones social standing within the JW is based upon those numbers so people plod along.
The RBC and “quick builds” provided a much more tolerable alternative. Pioneers could count their time and regular publishes could alleviate their guilt from hating service. It also provided a pretty sizable group of elders and servants an alternative path of advancement. If they were not talented speakers or pioneers, they could find a purpose and feel like they were doing “god’s work” It kept them extremely busy and, at least in my experience, made them the envy of the congregation. This is similar to how the public ministry works today. A “privledge” reserved for an elite “exemplary” few.
As many of you know, the RBC is no more. Those brothers that have put their entire lives into it have been put out to pasture and many pioneers who relied on it for hour have had to scramble for alternatives (like temporary bethel work) The LDC has come in to replace it and was initially promised as a sleeker more efficient way to expand the building work. I have had numerous conversations with those high in the organization about how disappointed they are that the LDC is actually just a rigorous top-down inventory process. Brothers from Bethal, and a select few locals brothers they train, go from hall to hall to access future improvement costs, property values, and determine if it can be sold off. A truly projects, at least in my area, has ground to a halt. While new builds have always been kind of rare here, there were always complete remodels going on. And now? Nothing but a bare minimum of repair projects. And, because most of the R&F don’t really think beyond their local hall, many are unaware of this massive shift.
So what does that mean for the future? By eliminating the RBC and funneling all those people back into the unquestionably miserable ministry, you are risking of turning a whole group of formally passinate contributors into just another bunch of disinterested door knockers. For many, the RBC was this glorious loophole that made life in the org tolerable. It also served a particular young demographic that despised service but thrived in the very social and non threatening bubble of a quick build.
So where do young ambitious JWs go now? Bethal is an option but with all the downsizing, it is less attainable. The RBC is done. SKE is obviously where Watchtower wants them to go, but it doesn’t have a big appeal here. It’s essentially a hyped up pioneer school with the end result of being sent to some delapidated congregation and that is opposite of exciting. And the point of entry (several years of pioneering) is way too high for most.
The end of RBC is just one more badly mismanaged initiative that will have tremendous negative repercussions on the organizations bottom line. And, I think many of us will eagerly look forward to watching that downward spiral unfold.