By WB Seth Strohecker
Masonic Lodge of Research, Paper #224
Freemason’s have a very long and rich history which over the years has allowed the organization to obtain some of the best members possible without the need to much, if any, recruitment efforts. However, the world is changing, but freemasons have not. Because of this inability to change the organization has recently been hit with a recent and dramatic downturn in new membership. However, this trend can be reversed.
A strategic and active recruitment effort would help to reverse this trend. First, Freemasons must embrace the recent interest in the organization that has been handed to us by recent best selling novels and hit movies. Next, masons must make a greater effort to become an indispensable part of the community at large. Lastly, each year an active recruitment drive must be undertaken in order to grow our membership.
In recent years, interest in masonry has increased thanks to books such as The DaVinci Code and movies such as
National Treasure. However, the organization has failed to capitalize on this increased interest in the organization. By hosting viewings of these movies to interested parties we can explain how these portrayals of Masonry are both accurate and inaccurate. By painting a more complete portrait of our organization, we can increase the interest these potential new brothers have in our organization.
By becoming more active in our communities, we will be much more visible to potential new members. I feel the most important aspect of community involvement is with youth and the school. I feel that this is the most important aspect because our impressions as children are often harder to change then those formed as an adult. Also, by targeting youth, we will in turn leave a good impression on the parents, and will be able to capitalize immediately from this long term investment in membership recruitment. In addition, by being involved with the youth of the
community. This will not only aid the blue lodge, but also help to increase the membership in our
youth arms as well.
The way in which a lodge can get more involved in the community can vary widely, and each lodge must consider its own community, and how it can best become involved in its community. However, some suggestions I offer our is to volunteer with high school sports, sponsor an after school tutoring program, and sponsoring youth organizations outside of our own, such as scouting.
I, however, do not think that youth should be the only focus for our long term recruitment effort. While youth should be the main focus of our efforts, we must also not neglect being involved with the adult community as well. With a proper balance such as this both long term and short term recruitment will be taken into account. The most important aspect of this must be visibility. We can undertake as many well intentioned community projects as possible, but without having our names attached to such projects no increase in membership will be seen. Some projects that would spark the interests of the adults of the community include Habitat For
Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and volunteering at the local hospital and nursing homes.
Finally, the Grand Lodge must establish a committee for Masonic Recruitment. The responsibility of this committee should be to create a unified set of recruitment standards for which all lodges can use in its recruitment efforts. This recruitment committee should be divided into two distinct categories. The first category should be to head up statewide recruitment campaign. The second class should be providing support and training to the local lodge for their local recruitment campaign. On the statewide level the committee should create an active recruitment campaign that will be general enough that is will supplement the local lodge efforts. The most important part of
these efforts should be advertisement. The forms of advertisement can include, but is not limited to roadside billboards, TV commercials, and advertisements in major newspapers. The committee should also be charged with creating standard brochures that will be used in local recruitment efforts. I personally believe that these advertising campaigns should focus on our rich heritage.
By using some of our most famous brothers, such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, we will more easily gain the attention of those who we wish to become brothers of our fraternity. On the local level, lodges must also do their part in order to recruit new members. Lodges can have open houses in order to bring in potential new members into the lodge to answer question they may have and also make them more familiar with freemasonry traditions and local lodge traditions as well. But most importantly the local lodge needs to make itself visible in its respective community. Efforts like this are not unprecedented by our fraternity. In my travels alone I have seen
the Grand Lodge of Illinois use a billboard campaign in order to spark interest in new membership. I know many in our fraternity feel that recruitment defies the principle of our order, but I argue against them. Our founders did not intend for us to build beautiful and majestic temples in order for them to become unused and in great disrepair. I believe it is in fact a disservice to those who have come before us to let such an event transpire. We may be the oldest organization in the world with well established traditions, but if we are hard set in these and unable to adapt we will become like King Solomon’s Temple we revere so greatly, a memory.