Brethren, looking back over my almost four years as a Freemason, I realized my experiences were not only rewarding, but also a huge learning experience for me.
I learned that every Brother has a story to tell about his experiences regarding Freemasonry and that that all experiences and/or lessons did not always leave individuals with positive feelings.
I learned that many of our Brothers don’t attend lodge meetings regularly and don’t always show interest in participating in lodge activities.
Conversely I also learned that there are a number of good men and Brothers with positive messages and experiences to pass on, and it is those members who will have your back when you need it most, and that even the smallest gesture of kindness from those Brothers at the right time, made my day and changed my perception of what Freemasonry is and what it stands for.
Each meeting or conversation I’ve been involved with in Freemasonry inevitably seems to turn toward discussions of how to bring good men to our Fraternity. How to strengthen our standing in the communities and keep members active.
We discuss methods to employ and plans to make, in the hope we will invoke interest by not only those that are “would-be” members, but also from those that are already are part our ranks yet show little interest in participating in the lodge they are a part of.
After repeated conversations and reliving these events over and over, I’m always left contemplating why.
Why doesn’t the public know about the good work the largest Fraternity is the world performs?
Why doesn’t our community leaders know of our existence when we continually make donations to help support them?
Why do men join Freemasonry only to not show up after being raised, or to leave after only a few years after joining?
Why do those that regularly attend our stated meetings shy away from taking part in the lodge work such as participating in practices or attending extra meetings?
After beating my head against the wall for answers to these questions I realized there is no one reason. The reasons vary for every individual and every circumstance.
Some may feel the redundancy of ritual becomes boring and they want to do something new and exciting.
Others may say they experienced bad situations within the fraternity either from lodge leaders or Brothers that left them feeling shunned or demeaned when they don’t participate or choose not to attend every event.
And yet others just say they don’t have time due to family or work obligations.
Listening to these reasons along with consideration of personalities and situations, I’ve come to understand that indeed there are times when family and work do take precedence over Freemasonry.
Our dialog even states this is as it should be however, putting those two reasons aside leaves the realization that perhaps we’re missing an underlying reason. Perhaps the members just aren’t enjoying the time they spend in the lodge. This is where I feel we need to focus.
If we can take the time to make the lodge work enjoyable for members, they will make time in their schedules to attend and participate in our lodge or it’s activities.
So, how do we proceed?
This is where all of you come in…. I know everyone listening to me just cringed and is wondering “What is this guy going to ask us to do now?”
Well relax. I’m not going to put anyone on the spot or ask you to do anything, Why?
BECAUSE THIS IS NOT MY LODGE TO CHANGE! IT IS YOURS!
The lodge belongs to each member in this lodge.
Although I may be the acting figure-head of the lodge this year, I cannot make changes without your support.
The ability to make this lodge enjoyable lies with each one of us. Not just me or the officers or a handful of energetic upstarts. The work and the benefits from that work belong to all of us.
In the opening charge given at every stated meeting it states this: “IF WE ARE UNITED, OUR FRATERNITY MUST FLOURISH!”
So how do we Unite?
Only by understanding the desires and needs of the majority our members and providing an environment that caters to their needs and desires will our lodge become successful and enjoyable. Only by united efforts will our lodge grow and flourish.
Now! How do we find what the majority of our members want or expect?
You need to stand up and speak out. It’s as simple as that. Remember, this is your lodge and your opinion matters.
If we want our lodge to thrive and grow, we must know and understand what men expect from it. This information will provide insight into what drives men to join our lodge and what will keep them coming back.
Thank you, all Brothers.
Keith O. Tardivo
WM Apollo Lodge #437
Bro. Keith is a Past Master and Current Worshipful Master of Apollo Lodge #437.
Bro. Keith can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org