Boom and Bust: Why North American Freemasonry Continues To Decline

Discussion in 'Masonic Blogs' started by JJones, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    Here are my latest article and video, I hope everyone enjoys it!
     
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  2. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    I have been surveying elderly brethren with up to 5 decades in Masonry. They all say that the ritual is less intense than when they joined.

    When I survey somewhat younger brethren that no longer attend, they say that the ritual is not sufficiently strong to motivate them to attend.
     
  3. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    Let me see if I have this right. The millenials are joining the lodges and instead of becoming part of the Lodge's traditions are instead trying to change them, and when the caretakers of Freemasonry are telling them "no", the millenials are storming off with their knickers in a twist.

    Mybe if the young men joining were properly prepared in their heart to become Masons it wouldn't be as much of an issue.

    While I do agree with many of the points of the article that the generational gap between the current leadership in many lodges and the new generation joining is an issue. Let's face it, 20 somethings don't want to sit around and play cribbage. What we often see is the brand new Brother with less than a year in who thinks he knows how to "fix" everything already and gets upset that nobody will listen to him. The fact that the article assigns no fault to the millennial need for instant gratification clashing in a Lodge system that was designed to be ponderous and slow moving for a reason is a glaring oversight and appears to try to put all the blame on one side.

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  4. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    That’s perhaps a little harsh coming from someone who’s lodge is unique in their jurisdiction... obviously you wanted to change the traditions, as well.
     
  5. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    I have also been a member of a regular lodge in my jurisdication these past 20 odd years. I have seen the attitude enough to stand by my argument. And my EC Lodge didn't go to the established Lodges and tell them to change how they were doing things because we knew better. We worked within the establish system and laws and started a new Lodge to set the example of our vision of a better way. And when Brothers from all over came to visit and saw that it works, they brought many of those ideas back to their home lodges.

    As for harsh, maybe. It is likely due to a long string of millenial employees who lack anything approaching what I, as a gen-x, would call a healthy work ethic. I am sure I am being unjustly stereotypical of all millenials, but I don't believe it is by much.

    So, no, I will not be going out of my way to change the lodge experience to suit them. Besides, I've made my position clear on several occasions that I believe the contraction of our numbers is a good thing. Close the gates, silence our carnival barkers saying, come one, come all, remove all of the outward trappings and go back underground. Let them come find us instead of trying to convince them they want to be a part of Freemasonry.

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  6. Brother JC

    Brother JC Vigilant Staff Member

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    I agree on several levels, but I’ve seen “millennials” (whatever that really means) be instrumental in taking an old, dying lodge and bringing new life to it by changing the status quo to a TO Lodge.


    PS - I’m supposedly a baby boomer and have seen plenty of your generation be lazy and entitled. Absolutes are never realistic.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
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  7. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    This is the mentality that I spoke of in my article.

    Despite the misconception that is continuously being perpetuated, the Millenials aren't a generation of entitled young men with no attention spans and need instant gratification. I recognize that there are exceptions to every rule but if we're painting broad strokes here then let's just roll with it.

    It's my belief that, in today's fast-paced world, men are looking for something that is 'ponderous and slow-moving'. I don't believe that I've ever heard a Millenial suggest we start using one-day classes, reduced proficiencies, turning the work in by section, or any of the new approaches being used in places to speed up the process. As I mentioned in my article, these were new practices adopted by preceding the generation.
     
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  8. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 Registered User

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    In days past the Lodge was a gathering place for people, including the whole family, to meet and exchange news. The same could be said of the grange, community buildings, churches, etc. They needed a place to keep in touch. That need began to evaporate with the invention of the telephone. Today you can talk to a person on the other side of the world and see them at the same time. Young families are not deliberately avoiding Lodge, or any other organization. It simply is a matter of not being on their list of daily priorities. Churches are suffering also as are veterans organizations and much more. All we can do is present ourselves as good examples and try to encourage friends to consider joining. Some might.
     
  9. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    And I'm saying you are assigning blame only to one side when both sides are bringing problems to the table.

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  10. JJones

    JJones Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not placing the blame at anyone's feet as there are no guilty parties. I even make it a point in both the video and the article to explain that I'm not trying to call anyone out.

    I simply shared the situation as it stands today from my perspective.
     
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  11. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    I can honestly say that I see both sides of this argument. I have seen the younger generation clash with the older generation and vice versa. Now with that being said.

    It's not just freemasonry, and churches that are in decline. It's just about everything now a days. Like one brother here said that you can talk to another person around the world in real time, but you can also talk to your neighbor without leaving your house, be it by phone, texting, or social media.
    We as in most of us admit to it or not have grown lazy and forgotten how to socialize with people face to face. I on the other hand enjoy being a traveling man. And enjoy going to lodge for degree work or even a business meeting to sit and talk to other brothers face to face and shake their hand in person. I have a few that say , HEY hit me up on Facebook and when I tell them I don't do Facebook, I get a strange look. But, I've slipped here, look around you like at 4th of July gatherings, home comings, Octoberfest. And see that these and other social events are also in decline.
     
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  12. CLewey44

    CLewey44 Registered User

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    Freemasonry is shrinking I like to think. We hit the 'bubble' years ago and now we have all this GL, BL infrastructure everywhere that nobody can afford to keep up. I think a solution is to consolidate (PHA included) and quit spreading ourselves so thin. Some people say keep the lodges small but when a new candidate shows up on EA night and sees 9 people there and 6 of them are in there 70s, he may have a hard time relating to them and not come back whereas under consolidation, he shows up and there is a nicer building due to some many men paying dues to one BL, not 12 different BLs in one mid-size town, 50 to 150 members there and an overall good experience. Maybe then he'll be an active member and we can actually start turning people away instead of letting every body that knocks in the doors.
     
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  13. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Combining smaller lodges will not solve our problem.. because it is cyclic. How many times have you seen a lodge merge more than once, the underlying problem is still there. I hear you on youth in a lodge, but visitors can achieve the same.. which is much easier here because we meet monthly rather than weekly.

    Consolidating lodges is more often than not, a way to manage decline, not reverse it.
     
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  14. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    The area where I live, 3 failing lodges merged. Built a nice new one level lodge thinking that coming together and building a new lodge would solve their issue. But if it wasn't for visiting brothers for degree work, and those with plural memberships to these three , they wouldn't have enough to open a business meeting let alone degree work.
     
  15. CLewey44

    CLewey44 Registered User

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    I don't think it would resolve itself overnight but with time it may improve the quality of our 'work' vs the quantity of it. We have all panicked to some degree when we see lodge after lodge close. Some of which seem pretty healthy even but not healthy enough to stay open. Property taxes go up, contract work (updates/repairs) costs go up, among other things and yet we still have lodges with 100 members paying $50 a year in dues. Then the residual effects start, new members show up to an ugly, old lodge that does not even come close to what they thought a lodge would look like, 7 people are there to do the degree and nobody knows their lines. One side-liner as your 'support' guy.

    Now, if you have a lodge with 300 members paying double the pay as well ($150 or so is very reasonable), suddenly you have the capital to put back into your lodge (updates/repairs/quality events), present fine degrees and stated meetings, nice dining area and food, more members means the likelihood of more people being devoted to learning their parts in degrees, more likely someone will be available to present some sort of education, I'm more likely to meet brothers I have interests with and also the likelihood of just having some sideliners during degrees and stated meetings. Nowadays we're lucky to have 2 or 3 sideliners showing support. The bottom line is, we need to give members a reason to keep paying dues and showing up to meetings and these tired, dilapidated lodges are not working at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
  16. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    A healthy lodge can absorb a dying lodge. For dying lodges to combine they MUST all bring enough parts together to form a healthy lodge. A please to meet. Money. A healthy line of officers. A healthy pipeline of candidates. Experts to teach both ritual and principles. An active social and/or service calendar. Miss any of those and the result is a lodge that still dying.

    I've been on the absorbing and absorbed side. Go down that list checking off points. If any are not checked, look to merge elsewhere.
     
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