Richard H. Ryder, May 2017
When is the best time to grow grass in New England? If you answered September, you are correct. With its warm daytime weather, cool nights, and no germinating crab grass, it is ideal for growing new, lush lawns. It’s also an ideal time at the beginning of a new Masonic year to grow your lodge membership. If you have not already done so, now is the time to prepare the soil for membership growth in the fall.
Many lodges go ‘dark’ during July and August, providing a much-needed summer vacation from Masonic duties. Though it is a good time to slow down and refresh oneself, it is also an opportune time to plan recruitment for your next class of degree candidates. With normal Masonic responsibilities in hibernation we have a bit more time to concentrate on what is most important to the future of Freemasonry – membership growth. We are a membership driven organization and as such we must constantly take steps to grow the Craft. Why not leverage summer’s downtime and make plans for the fall?
Masters and Ambassadors should actively think about how to leverage this time for lodge growth. However, it is the responsibility of all members to do their part. As individuals, we can all think of men in our lives who would benefit from Freemasonry. As lodge officers, it is imperative that you actively set the example for others in adding new candidates. The ways in which we do so are varied; some traditional, some more creative. Recently, I attended a Meet and Greet at a local restaurant that not only served as an evening of Masonic fellowship, but it also was a chance to introduce eight guests to the fraternal nature of Freemasonry. A simple concept, but a very creative idea to attract and retain members.
So, what can you do now to get ready for September? Here are just a few, simple ideas to get you thinking and although they can be done anytime, there is no time like the present to get started. Feel free to devise your own and let the creative juices flow.
Email lodge members to request they seriously think of who they can invite to join Freemasonry, even if it is not your lodge. If a Brother’s lodge is in Boston, but he knows an interested family member who resides in Fitchburg, why not help that relative find a lodge near his home?
- Place a recruitment announcement in your lodge notice
- Announce at the June meeting the importance of recruiting for the upcoming year
- Encourage your new Master Masons to work toward their Master Mason Rookie Award, which includes a goal to bring in a new member
- Create advertising business cards (easy and inexpensive at Vistaprint) that includes the address of the lodge, meeting night, contact information, and a few benefits of membership. Then, give each member ten cards that they can distribute to friends and relatives. If you feel really motivated, create a small handout (again, this can be done at Vistaprint), which allows you to elaborate a bit more about your lodge. With so many gathering opportunities during the summer months – family cookouts, sporting events, weddings, graduations, etc. – there are many opportunities to bring up what you do in your spare time and raise Freemasonry as a worthy endeavor
- Gather three or four key lodge members once or twice during the summer to strategize how to grow the lodge membership. Maybe you already have an active Membership Committee. Consider meeting on what would be your normal lodge meeting night, since your mind is already programmed to leave this night open
- Hold a summer barbeque. Invite members and family, but also invite potential candidates and their families. This provides several attract and retain benefits: fraternalism, family inclusion, and an opportunity to showcase your lodge culture
- Consider a district summer event, where resources can be pooled and more activates are possible
The ideas listed above are simple and certainly not exhaustive. They are, however, ideas that may encourage you to think creatively about what would work well for your lodge. Everyone understands the need to grow their lodge and are willing to help, but may not know how. Lodge Masters and Ambassadors, in particular, should take the initiative to create the spark toward action for the benefit of their lodge and the Fraternity. But remember, we are all Masonic Ambassadors and as such we should not wait for someone else to act; we each need to take the initiative to do our part for the betterment of Freemasonry long into the future.