Membership statistics and trend

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Simon Christiansen, Oct 6, 2018.

  1. Simon Christiansen

    Simon Christiansen Registered User

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    http://www.msana.com/msastats.asp

    The new membership stats from the Masonic Service Association of North America are out, so I couldn't resist the temptation to make a graph:

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    Masonic membership in North America has declined 46.8% over the last 20 years, from 2,021,909 in 1997 to 1,076,626 in 2017. The rate of decline seemed to be slowly levelling off during most of the 2000's, but around 2012 it settles into a linear trend.

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    If the current trend continues, North American freemasonry will cease to exist in 2040.

    Sorry not to have better news. I was planning to fit the points to a curve, and predict when freemasonry would start growing again, but the data doesn't really support it.

    Some individual Grand Lodges do seem to have stabilised, so the current trend probably won't continue forever, but it seems like it will be a while before things improve. The numbers also do not include Prince Hall lodges.
     
  2. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Possibly this year Kentucky Freemasonry will show more members joining than demitting or dying for the first time in decades.
     
  3. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    >North American freemasonry will cease to exist in 2040.

    A very similar situation in Australia but I do not expect the trend to continue unchanged. There will be a critical mass issue that will crash the membership or force a reinvention.

    Ultimately the problem is the product being sold is not what is being delivered. I see so many EAs that do not make it to FC and so many new MMs that disappear permanently. They do not find in the lodge whatever it was that attracted them to Freemasonry.
     
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  4. CLewey44

    CLewey44 Registered User

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    Where Masonry fails, medicine succeeds...
     
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  5. jermy Bell

    jermy Bell Registered User

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    I really can't believe that with so many of us, that we can't figure out a way to re jump start masonry , school of instruction is ok, degree work is somewhat enjoyable, and business meetings, well you know. My lodge does one cool thing that we all get behind twice a year, we take $500.00 and buy school supplies for a couple of the not well off schools in the county. But besides the old pancake breakfast and spaghetti dinners, you really don't see nothing exciting happening. But there has to be something to keep things interesting to have people coming back.
     
  6. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    I have been surveying elderly brethren for some time. Without exception they agree that the craft ritual is less powerful than when they first joined.

    The cosmic tide is going out on many social institutions and Freemasonry is no exception.

    We can fight the outgoing tide but I suggest we are better identifying the next incoming tide.
     
  7. Trufflehound

    Trufflehound Registered User

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    Many Lodges have a couple of common issues.

    The first is that we don’t always do a good job establishing Brotherly Love. If you can’t do that — if you can’t foster an environment where friendships can grow and civility reigns — your Lodge will suffer. It’s one of the few things that universally contributes to the health of all Lodges. It’s one of the sure-fire ways to get a Brother to come to Lodge. He may not leave the comfort of his home for education or ritual, but he will for his friends.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is, younger Masons often feel unneeded. The older Brethren occupy a lot of the chairs or give lectures during the Degrees. The older Brethren don’t “box the younger Masons out” deliberately. This is our generational issue manifesting itself.

    Consider this: many of those born in the 1950s and 1960s didn’t join the fraternity. We’re missing the bulk of an entire generation. Traditionally, responsibility would have passed hands already. Because of the generational gap, the older generation has had to hold the reins longer. Maybe they’re a bit hesitant to turn things over to the younger guys, because they’re so used to running things.

    Our job as younger Masons is to step up and show that they leave the work in capable hands. If we don’t do that, we’re going to damage the Craft when the older Brethren pass on.
     
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  8. LK600

    LK600 Premium Member

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    I am heavily considering moving to northwestern Kentucky in the next two years, so I may be able to provide a point to the positive if and when that happens! ;)
     
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  9. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    I expected to join for the service. I ended up staying for the fellowship. Plenty of guys have enough fellowship in their lives already but I work a desk job and that was a whole in my life that masonry filled.

    I see the opposite. You need to finish your proficiency by Installation because we need you in line right away. The old guys cycling through are experiencing burn out. There's pressure rather than resistance in my lodges.

    Except in a few lodges. A small number of lodges are doing a large number of degrees. They thrive and sure enough they have neither pressure nor resistance to new guys joining the line because they have plenty of new guys.

    Something I have pondered recently. We are THE source of positive masculinity in my world. Part of positive masculinity is taking initiative. We aren't a school where the teachers deliver lessons then the kids play. We're a team where everyone works and the fellowship makes the work into play.
     
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  10. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    True. Also true is the older Masons pooh poohing any new ideas of younger Masons with "We don't do it that way here" or "We didn't do it that way in my day".
    Would love to have you Brother!
    Great!
     
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  11. LK600

    LK600 Premium Member

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    Another Brother and myself have been told things similar to this multiple times.
     
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  12. Plustax

    Plustax Registered User

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    Or ...."it's been our local tradition here". Or...."we tried that before and it didn't work".

    Sent from my LG-H910 using My Freemasonry mobile app
     
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  13. Zack

    Zack Registered User

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    I wish I had a dollar for every "young Mason" who said he wanted to learn the lectures started, fell by the wayside after finding out how much time and commitment it takes. If nothing else works blame the Old Mason.
     
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  14. Brother_Steve

    Brother_Steve Premium Member

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    The second graph is misleading to me.

    I'm a Professional Land Surveyor. The average age of my profession is 50. That's roughly ten years my senior. We have students in the pipe, but the numbers coming up will in no way compensate for the sheer mass of the old guys retiring.

    Same goes for Freemasonry. We don't have the capability of initiating, passing and raising enough men to replace the exponential amount of members passing away today. It's like having a job that pays 2k a month, but your mortgage is 3k. It's not possible with our resources. Once the inflationary period passes, the graph will stabilize. Productivity in will match the unfortunate passing of those going out.

    TLDR;

    The loss of members right now is due to the inflation of numbers 60 years and those men now dieing vs our capability to keep up. We're getting young men to join, but it's not like it was 60 years ago.
     
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  15. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    I've said it before, but I don't see the doom and gloom that others are seeing. As a social club, of course Freemasonry needs as many new dues paying members coming in as possible. Not only to replace the Brothers who pass away, but also to grow the organization. And that is absolutely not happening. But, as a Fraternal order that focuses on the initiatic rites, the numbers needed to sustain a rich and fulfilling organization is much smaller. If you don't know every Brother in your Lodge like your closest friend, are you really Brothers? The grand buildings and halls, large charitable donations, scholarships, and other obligations have, to many members, become our reason for being and the very real decline in membership is seen by them as the end of the organization. But, if our purpose is to initiate worthy men into our Order and spend our time edifying each other as we delve into the mysteries while working to be better people in our lives and communities, then we can fulfill that purpose regardless if a local Lodge has only a dozen dedicated men.
     
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  16. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Agreed!
     
  17. Lightlife

    Lightlife Site Benefactor Premium Member

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    Yes. In my personal journey I found that many of the lodge teachers were unable to deliver the product because they never received it themselves. I have never sat in the East, but I was a DEO for two years before I threw in the towel and quit the line at SW. There is a big difference between being able to flawlessly repeat the ritual (which I have never been able to do) and actually understanding the meaning of the lessons.
     
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  18. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I try for both.. and understanding the lessons is one thing, living them is another.. that's the hardest bit
     
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  19. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Very true!
     
  20. Winter

    Winter Premium Member

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    One leads to the other. The countless hours of study to memorize the ritual so that the words may be recalled as a second nature are the foundation. Even if a Brother doesn't have the full understanding of them, the words must be there for him to recall. As he grows in experience, inside and out of the Lodge in his personal life, the words that are indelibly inscribed in his memory may gain more meaning for him as he learns. And that meaning may change over time as he grows as a person and as a Freemason. But that all starts with the memorization of the words so that they are there for him.
     

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