Traditions Prevailing?

Some quick ways we might design better results.

By: Stephen Balke

Leaders in Masonry often face some questions that they may not have previously considered:

  • Can we get more members?
  • How can I juggle the events I would like to attend?
  • What will encourage more of our members to come to our meetings?
Stephen Balke Editor

We are in organizations where the average age of our members is well into (or after) the working years. We live in a society that has all members of a household working, often just to meet the cost of living. We compete for peoples’ time with media and other organizations that spend millions on how to psychologically attract people and some that give them further opportunities for better jobs, etc.  Avoiding proper planning for one of the few positive (generally available to the) public events may be in direct opposition to answering these questions.

Estancia Lodge did not and does not have a “large” membership, nor is it the most accessible place to visit. When I was installed Master for 2009, I was determined that we should have more reasons for the Brethren (both in our Lodge and from others) to attend and more often. So, for my installation, I did what I could to make sure to start off well…

  • I made and delivered or sent invitations to the officers in the District, Grand Lodge officers and leaders in bodies in which I was a member.
    • These were intentionally notable – linen parchment with envelopes and sealed with wax.
  • I planned the 23 Regular Communications of the Lodge and the Installation for the next year.
    • Highlights (12 programs and dates) were made a part of my Installation Program that was handed out to those who attended and sent to those who were unable.
  • I asked mentors well in advance of my Installation to be members of my Installation Team.
    • This gave them time to prepare and avoided conflicts on the Masonic calendar.

How can you plan when you’re not elected!?!? Well, the simple answer is, it’s the Lodge’s Installation, not a particular Brother’s.

Two Lodges have their Installation date already – St. John’s Day. For any Lodge where the date is a Special Communication, the Master sets the date (as it IS one of his meetings). This can be done as a part of his year’s planning (before he is installed). The Lodge sends the invitations under the authority of the Sitting Master. And you ask people privately to reserve the date and if they are familiar with the Installation Team role you have in mind for them. While it has been used quite a bit, prefacing any questions can also be done … “Traditions prevailing, would you be willing to…” This also works while speaking with prospective appointments.

My general response to the first question (more members) is that we need to become better leaders so that better members will be attracted to our events and Lodges. One of the most impacting duties of leadership, and the direct answer to the second two questions, is effective planning. If you (as a team of officers) plan an active program for the year and give people an opportunity to save dates and know what to expect, they are more likely to attend. As a bonus, you are more likely to get people who must travel to attend not only the Installation, but also events throughout the year!

Please consider sharing what you do with all of us – it may inspire greater and more activity in Masonry in NM!

We look forward to helping you to share all the things you’re doing to help Masonry and your Lodge or group grow!

Many thanks to MWB Jeff Johnson and Michele Balke. Both for review of the issue, and contribution of photography by Michele. Other photos provided by the contributors, with the exception of the photos of Brian Ragain and his books, which were provided by him.

Artwork and images are also often downloaded from Creative Commons, royalty free.

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