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The future of lodges

Mike Mendelson

Registered User
Brothers. Hope all of you and your families are well. Our lodge just approved three petitions and we will have new Entered Apprentices soon! It's very exciting. Our lodge seems to be doing well. Others in my state, not so much. I've heard tales of lodges where the average age is well over 70 and new members are highly unlikely.

So my question is this, and realizing that I have no control over the situation - Should some lodges be consolidated, within reason and a certain mileage distance? Isn't it better to have fewer, active lodges with more regular attending or participating members than more lodges that only go through the motions?

Asked humbly and respectfully from a still wet-behind-the-ears MM.
 

MarkR

Premium Member
That should be up to the lodge and the Grand Lodge they are chartered by. If the elderly brothers (and I'm in my 70s myself; the picture on the left is 7-8 years old) are still enjoying their lodge and their Masonry, I say leave them alone. If they don't attract any new members, eventually the situation will resolve itself, because they won't have enough attendees to open lodge, and eventually will have to surrender their charter. But to force them to merge simply due to the age of the membership would likely cause many of them to simply stop attending. Driving 15-20 miles at night might be just enough of a disincentive for many of them.

Since it's not your lodge, just wish them well, maybe visit if you can.
 

Bloke

Premium Member
Brothers. Hope all of you and your families are well. Our lodge just approved three petitions and we will have new Entered Apprentices soon! It's very exciting. Our lodge seems to be doing well. Others in my state, not so much. I've heard tales of lodges where the average age is well over 70 and new members are highly unlikely.

So my question is this, and realizing that I have no control over the situation - Should some lodges be consolidated, within reason and a certain mileage distance? Isn't it better to have fewer, active lodges with more regular attending or participating members than more lodges that only go through the motions?

Asked humbly and respectfully from a still wet-behind-the-ears MM.
Thanks, me and my family are well, I hope you and yours are likewise.

Merging Lodges (and lodge buildings for that matter) have long been a recommended practice by some. While it is sometimes appropriate, I would observe that it needs to be driven by the lodges themselves, but much much more importantly, if merger is the strategy for sustaining lodges, then it is only repeatable so many times. The theory is often, two weak lodges merged will make one strong lodge. While, very rarely, that does happen, much more commonly is that two weak lodges merging simply create one larger weak lodge because the Freemasons in those lodges did not address the underlying problems which lead to the merge: generally a lack of ability to attract and retain members. And an inability to produce future leaders and workers. Or, to a less common extent, an economic model which cannot survive unless supported by a large group of members.

While a merger might be a short term strategy to address organizational, personnel or financial pressures, unless you address the underlying causes of the weaknesses, those issues that led to a merger are very likely to simply re-emerge

Almost two decades ago, my mother lodge (which granted is in a city which creates lots of opportunity, but with lots of competitors, masonic and otherwise for time) had 14 members. Visiting Freemasons would often be pressed into office. In reaction they would say we would be dead in the water soon, but as they left the meeting, often said something different - because of our high moral and cohesiveness and fraternity, we might indeed have a good future.

Almost two decades on, we have 45 members and an average age of 50. That happened because we stat down, analyzed what our real problems were- a lack of retention mainly, but also attracting the wrong sort of applicant who lacked commitment and the potential to be a good Freemason, some admin short comings and a lack of financial planning and discipline.

We almost merged about 15 years ago, in our review, we discovered our younger future leaders did not like the night our lodge met on. So we changed it. We also shaped the lodge as custodians for future generations, but developing and supporting our successors.

Often people don't realise how fragile even strong lodges can be, a couple of disharmonious meetings can kill even a strong lodge. Merger might be an easy short term solution, but rarely does it address the underlying problems the lodges had.

Finally, the test of a lodge is not how many candidates you have (although you do need them) the test is how many you retain and develop as future leaders who live the values of Freemasonry.

There is more than enough to do in your own lodge, without worrying about someone else's...
 

Mike Mendelson

Registered User
That should be up to the lodge and the Grand Lodge they are chartered by. If the elderly brothers (and I'm in my 70s myself; the picture on the left is 7-8 years old) are still enjoying their lodge and their Masonry, I say leave them alone. If they don't attract any new members, eventually the situation will resolve itself, because they won't have enough attendees to open lodge, and eventually will have to surrender their charter. But to force them to merge simply due to the age of the membership would likely cause many of them to simply stop attending. Driving 15-20 miles at night might be just enough of a disincentive for many of them.

Since it's not your lodge, just wish them well, maybe visit if you can.
Thank you for your thoughtful response, Brother. No disrespect intended and I did not mean "shut 'em down" but rather where to encourage new apprentices to go to get the most out of Masonry as other lodges fade gracefully.
 

Mike Mendelson

Registered User
Thanks, me and my family are well, I hope you and yours are likewise.

Merging Lodges (and lodge buildings for that matter) have long been a recommended practice by some. While it is sometimes appropriate, I would observe that it needs to be driven by the lodges themselves, but much much more importantly, if merger is the strategy for sustaining lodges, then it is only repeatable so many times. The theory is often, two weak lodges merged will make one strong lodge. While, very rarely, that does happen, much more commonly is that two weak lodges merging simply create one larger weak lodge because the Freemasons in those lodges did not address the underlying problems which lead to the merge: generally a lack of ability to attract and retain members. And an inability to produce future leaders and workers. Or, to a less common extent, an economic model which cannot survive unless supported by a large group of members.

While a merger might be a short term strategy to address organizational, personnel or financial pressures, unless you address the underlying causes of the weaknesses, those issues that led to a merger are very likely to simply re-emerge

Almost two decades ago, my mother lodge (which granted is in a city which creates lots of opportunity, but with lots of competitors, masonic and otherwise for time) had 14 members. Visiting Freemasons would often be pressed into office. In reaction they would say we would be dead in the water soon, but as they left the meeting, often said something different - because of our high moral and cohesiveness and fraternity, we might indeed have a good future.

Almost two decades on, we have 45 members and an average age of 50. That happened because we stat down, analyzed what our real problems were- a lack of retention mainly, but also attracting the wrong sort of applicant who lacked commitment and the potential to be a good Freemason, some admin short comings and a lack of financial planning and discipline.

We almost merged about 15 years ago, in our review, we discovered our younger future leaders did not like the night our lodge met on. So we changed it. We also shaped the lodge as custodians for future generations, but developing and supporting our successors.

Often people don't realise how fragile even strong lodges can be, a couple of disharmonious meetings can kill even a strong lodge. Merger might be an easy short term solution, but rarely does it address the underlying problems the lodges had.

Finally, the test of a lodge is not how many candidates you have (although you do need them) the test is how many you retain and develop as future leaders who live the values of Freemasonry.

There is more than enough to do in your own lodge, without worrying about someone else's...
Wise words! Thank you Brother.
 

usar123

Registered User
That’s so true a lot of lodges have a lot of Senior Brothers the lodge I attended in South Carolina had to merge with another lodge due to lack of having younger people joining !
 

Mike Mendelson

Registered User
That’s so true a lot of lodges have a lot of Senior Brothers the lodge I attended in South Carolina had to merge with another lodge due to lack of having younger people joining !
What's the current state of those merged lodges? Stagnant or growing?
 
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