WM E MCCRAW·MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2018
Who Knows the answer to the question that has historically been plaguing every generation of Freemasonry, since at least the industrial age?
I sure don’t; but I am willing to discuss it; to continue to try to discover an answer (right or wrong)...
So, what’s the Question?
Here it is in a nutshell...
Many men nowadays cannot go without paying for luxury entertainment.
They will even pay $2.35 to $4.95 per cup of coffee 2 to 3 times a week...
but, suggest that we pay $10 to $36 a month, to enjoy a lifelong journey in our sacred Brotherhood... both young and old Mason alike, literally (not figuratively) start threatening, and throwing tantrums.
Why is coffee or tv more valuable then Brotherhood?
And here’s the challenge, without saying we need to:
- change the ritual (water down ritual),
- stop focussing on education,
- stop asking for proficiency requirements,
- make it easier to join,
- more accessible,
- turn Masonry into a social club,
- admit atheist / women,
- have more spaghetti - rubber chicken - pancake breakfast / dinners
- have more 'rob Peter to Pay Paul' fundraisers
- join more appendant bodies,
- have or create a free high quality product / service / experience that is worth paying for, -- or -
- Make it cheaper ...
How do we keep the lights on, and attract new membership, while making Brotherhood a greater priority in the lives of good men, more than tv or coffee??...
Quality costs money. That's just a fact of reality. If you want greater quality in every aspect of Freemasonry, it will cost.
And holding members hostage to force them to eat yet again, another overpriced, over-salted, overcooked, spaghetti - rubber chicken - pancake breakfast / dinners ... just does not work. More often than not, it chases good men away.
So... we know, through trial and error, what does not work.
The question, then, is what will work?
Mind you - in the 'total membership committee' there are four components of membership:
- Attraction (appealing to new aspirants / petitioners).
- Attention (Keeping the focus and enthusiasm of new Petitioners / Candidates)
- Retention (Keeping the focus, support, and enthusiasm of Members in Good Standing)
- Restoration (rekindling the focus, support, and enthusiasm of Members whose membership has lapsed or been voluntarily surrendered for one reason or another.)
While this is true the average years invested into Masonry from this same age range is 27 years of service; meaning that most men age 25 will commit to actively serving a Masonic Lodge and maintain membership within a lodge, until the age of 52 to 62 years old.
The Attrition rate of men who state that Freemasonry is too expensive, or leave because the dues were raised is less than 7% total loss.
These are also, coincidentally and usually the men who do not actively participate in Lode activities, regardless of how cheap a Lodge dues become.
Joining Appendant Bodies is voluntary, and elective. Appendant bodies are meant to augment, and support Blue Lodge; not detract or distract from Blue Lodge.
Without new members in the Blue Lodge there is no new members in the Appendant Bodies. It is a codependent, symbiotic relationship.
The Grand Master of each Jurisdiction can (if He so desires) break communion with the appendant bodies and their existence would be threatened.
The same is not true in reverse.
Shoving a newly raised Master Mason into the various rites and bodies of the craft is actually more damaging to that Mason and his journey with us.
The experience of a Masonic Journey is one of growth and maturation. We owe it to that newly raised Master Mason to afford him time to grow and mature before he is shoved through the chairs and the rites and bodies.
This truth has been forgotten in recent years.
Remember that You are Masonry.
The product; the service; the experience of Masonry is you.
So you must Be the change you wish to see in Masonry. and as always - Ask not what Masonry can do for you, ask what you can do for Masonry.
In this regards, Am I my Brother's keeper? Yes, I am.
So we must address financial independence of a Lodge and fiscal responsibility.
The act of raising money through fundraisers, to compensate for operational costs is just bad business practices.
'Robbing Peter to pay Paul' is not only Not budget-wise; it is what continues to lead us right back to where we remain to be; dancing between the ledger lines.
We take focus away from the craft and it's true purpose of Freemasonry, in order to focus on the financial woes of the current codependent administration.
Self sufficiency should be the goal of every operational budget. Fundraisers, and investments only distract from the rotting corpus.
As a Fraternity we must be the leading example in self sufficient behavior.
If Freemasonry were a business, the current business practices, would be akin to saying corporate welfare, bailouts, and debts are fiscally responsible.
If a Lodge engages in fundraisers of any kind, (As a 501c3 / 501c10 Non-profit) - all the proceeds should go to Charity, not to keeping the lights on.
Yes ...Freemasonry should be for those who love it..."; but it must become fiscally sound, self-sufficient, and fiscally responsible... otherwise, it's doors will close. Not the buildings itself... but the fraternity as a living entity.
So, if paying $10 to $36 per month to receive a high quality experience within your lifelong journey in our Sacred Brotherhood... is just out of the question... then, "what shall we do with the body?"
How do we afford the administrative realities, with an already extremely conservative budget, and give the Brethren a high quality experience for free, while the whole of Freemasonry is hemorrhaging year after year?
Especially, since the cost of living has increased at a rate of inflation of not less than 3 % to 5 % each year since in America since 1773. While dues consistently stay at the same rate for 3 to 5 decades in between each dues increase.
What is the answer?
How do we make Freemasonry appealing, and effective?
I will leave this here for you to discuss (civilly).
Please employ Brotherly Love and discuss openly amongst yourselves.
The purposes of this dialogue; to create a positive environment where ideas are born and negativity dies. It is my hope that we stop treating Masonry as a sinking ship being abandoned by bilge rats who love to point fingers; or an obstacle; or a burden; but rather an opportunity to accept the challenge, and to get back to work.
Sure, our problems won't be fixed like the average sitcom: in 22 1/2 minutes between the commercial breaks... but we only need to begin the work and rally the troops and get them excited about doing the same.
So join the discussion and create ideas.
Then print this off and discuss it with your Lodge(s).