Many "new" ideas are being tried in lodges and grand lodges to increase membership, but there is one main thing that individual lodges must do to attract members, either new masons or affiliations: The lodge must be interesting. A lodge with dead meetings is just dead. If the principles set out on the other pages of this site are followed, the lodge will attract new members through initiation and affiliation because of the enjoyment experienced by its members.
Nevertheless, there is a great way to get new men into the lodge if the lodge is already interesting and fun. These prospective members somehow must be placed physically in the lodge building. Either through an open activity where friends of masons are invited to attend or, even better, through participation of their relatives in masonic activities such as the Rainbow Girls.
When a friend sees the fun at a lodge activity, he will get an impression that will be great for attracting him to membership. But when a man sees his daughter or son living a great life and having good friends in a wholesome environment, he is sold on masonry. And often more important, his wife is sold on masonry.
Sponsoring more than one youth organization may be too much for one lodge to handle. The lodge should pick one youth activity and truly work with it and for it. The more participation of lodge members in the organization, the more likely it is to attract new young members. Youth groups never suffer from too many adults participating, only from too few.
And get these teenagers involved in other lodge activities. They can be servers at "Ladies Night" or have a special place at lodge fundraisers to sell their homebaked cookies. Have Rainbow Girl or DeMolay awards banquets on the same night as lodge night and make it an official, but open, lodge meeting. Get those non-masonic moms and dads into the lodge.
Once you have the man in the lodge, you can show him how much fun it is, but once you have his child in the lodge, he already knows how great it is.
Bro J. R. Martin, MPS, Houston, Texas
Here are some great ideas from Richard W. Decker, PM, PJGW Grand Lodge of Hawaii, PM, PDDGM, PSGM Grand Lodge of New Jersey:
The Kona Masonic Renewal Plan
The problem of attendance and health of the Masonic Lodge has become a crisis for the fraternity, not just in Hawaii, but throughout the American Grand Lodges. As one looks at the problem, certain elements of the problem stand out and, with serious thought and effort, can and should be changed.
Problem No. 1. One of the first elements that needs to be addressed is the problem of bringing new men into the fraternity. With the restrictions as interpreted in the Masonic ritual shows, we cannot ask a man to join with us, it can only be hinted. A new interpretation of this restriction should be developed that will permit our asking one whom we feel is qualified to be a member of the order to be asked to become a Mason. If we can see in our hearts that this is the problem that restricts us from growing and remaining a force for good, then it must be changed. Because that we say that a man must first be made a Mason in his heart, we have interpreted this to mean that we cannot ask but must wait to have a man made a Mason in his heart and he must do the asking. If we, as individuals, feel that a man is of the character and type that we want as a member of our lodge, why can’t we suggest to him that he could become a Mason and believe that he would find kindred souls among the fellowship of your lodge. Require him to think about it, to ponder and ask questions, to discuss with others including his wife and family, of the rightness of his becoming a member of the Masonic fraternity. Let him become a Mason in his heart - after he has been asked to consider membership in your lodge. This kind of approach to the problem of bringing in new members could become a great help in the furtherance of the health and well being of the lodge.
Problem No. 2. . One of the most important problems we face is the retention of our present membership. Why are we not retaining our members, keeping them interested and attending their lodges and participating in the lodge’s programs? This is the most important area of renewal that we could consider. How often do any of the officers who are responsible for the health of the lodge, visit or at least call absent brothers? Being in touch with all members of the lodge should be essential, and not with just the monthly mailing of the trestleboard - though this is a very important tool. Personal visits, letters and/or phone calls can be of infinite value to the lodge. It would seem that this should be a responsibility of the Master and Wardens, particularly the Wardens, so that they can get to know the members of the lodge. Older Masons who cannot drive at night, should be able to be picked up and brought to lodge so that they can retain their interest.
Problem No. 3. A clear and comprehensive program that is geared to the interest of all men is an imperative and should be the reason why the personal touch with the members is important to be sure that all are well acquainted with the program and given a chance to be active. Gleanings from successful programs that are going on in different lodges around the country is an easy way to find a program or programs that a lodge could use. There are no copy rights on any program that is being used by any particular lodge. We are free to copy any that we feel would be good for our own lodge and which would be of interest to our membership.
Problem No. 4. Ritual is a necessary part of the Masonic life. It cannot be ignored, but we can innovate some differences in rendering the ritual A lodge should have teams of members that are interested in ritual and be prepared and ready to perform their part of ritual. Not just the officers holding a particular position, but a ritualist can be called on to take part whenever a degree is to be performed. The lodge officers would have to be able to open and close their lodge and the Master and Wardens should be prepared to conduct meetings and to activate the programs that the lodge is currently working toward. It would always be the Master of the lodge that would conduct the meetings and he could do whatever part of the ritual he wished to perform in the degrees. It is still his lodge. Problem No. 5. Let us tell the world what we are doing and what part we play in the daily life of our community. A member of the lodge could be designated as the liaison with the local newspapers, radio stations or t.v. stations or any other method of getting out the word. There is no reason why we cannot tell the world that Mr. Toby A. Mason has made application to our lodge and that he is looking forward to becoming a part of this great and world’s oldest fraternity. He will be receiving his degrees in our lodge on a specific date and invite all Masons to come and participate in this important occasion. An announcement of upcoming programs or charitable events or dates for the community blood bank, a childrens’ I.D. program, or whatever the lodge is sponsoring, should be included in the duties of the communications officer of the lodge. How else do we tell our community that we are here and are an organization operating for the good of all?
Once again, if you have a lodge that is going fine without these changes, GREAT! We want to hear from you and, perhaps to include your ideas in our next revision. Please contact the website editor by clicking HERE.