Richard H. Ryder, 2018
One of the most important things we can do as Masons is to bring new members into the fraternity. Someone once said “You need to bring in one member to replace you and one member to grow the lodge.” The applicant and candidate processes are very important and set the tone for the newly initiated. Done correctly the steps you follow toward and beyond the third degree form a strong foundation for engaging the new Master Mason inside and outside the lodge room.
Here are ten points to remember.
- Once a good man demonstrates an interest in Freemasonry and especially in your lodge, act upon his interest right away. As they say, “Strike while the iron is hot.”
- Get to know him personally and determine why he is interested in the Craft. This will help you determine how best to engage him after he takes his degrees.
- One person in the lodge, preferably the lodge Ambassador, should act as a single point of contact and take responsibility for managing both the application and degree process. Doing so provides continuity for the lodge and the applicant/ candidate.
- The single point of contact should attend the pre-application and application interviews, thus providing continuity not only for the individual, but continuity for anyone applying to the lodge. Consider having the single point of contact conduct the interviews.
- Make the interview process informal in tone, but have a consistent approach. Having a list of questions helps keep the interviews on track.
- Create a list of points you want to make to assist the applicant in making his final decision to join your lodge or any lodge. You want to ensure he makes a thoughtful and informed decision. Consider making a checklist to assist you when speaking with an applicant.
- Develop a process for staying in touch with the applicant and candidate throughout the journey to their Master Mason degree. Standard emails, letters, schedule formats, etc. form a “cookie cutter” approach that is repeatable and takes the guesswork out of the process. This is especially true as the Master and line officers move into and out of office.
- Keep things moving! You want to leverage the interest of the man while it is at its peak. Dragging on the process over an excessively long period of time may make him wonder what is going on and reflects poorly on the lodge and Fraternity; it is also impolite and disrespectful.
- Once a candidate has taken his third degree his journey is not done, and neither is yours. Don’t take the approach that he’s in now and we can move on; work with the new Master Mason in harnessing and directing his interest and talents. Remember, this is probably the most exciting time for any Mason. Help him channel his excitement in a direction that interests him and proceeds at a comfortable pace. If you asked the right questions during the interviews and investigations you should have a sense of the Master Mason’s interests, skills, and where he can become engaged. Going after the Rookie Award is one place to start.
- Always look for ways to hone the entire process of ‘on-boarding’ good men into the Craft. If you try something that doesn’t work, try something else. Small incremental improvements build over time.