6 Ways to Get Your Blue Lodge Out of a Rut
Have you ever attended your blue lodge and thought to yourself… “wow this meeting is so boring?” Maybe you thought to yourself, “It is the same stuff every meeting – there is nothing new for me here.” Or maybe you go to the meeting and there is no energy in the atmosphere – not just in the lodge room itself. So let’s take a deep dive into this and diagnose the problem.
If you are like me and really want to diagnose the lodge’s problem, you will probably find that the problem is with the health of our fraternity’s blue lodge. I say ‘our’ because we are a brotherhood and you are not alone. The issues your blue lodge is having with gaining new brothers to go through the ‘line’ or to go through the first three degrees of our fraternity are really just a by-product of the overall health of the local blue lodge.
Sometimes, it not uncommon for brothers to look at the blue lodge as being more of a business than a brotherhood. And yes, it is a bitter pill to swallow because we all want our Masonic fraternity to be fun and enjoyable.
But, running our blue lodges like a business is incredibly important. Why? It is critical that we accomplish all our goals during the stated meetings and most blue lodges only meet 1 to 2 times officially each month. That excludes holidays and if they desire to go ‘dark’.
We need to communicate to our newest brothers that our meetings need to be ‘long’ to achieve the results we need to achieve. If our fraternal order was doing business 24/7 then a long meeting is simply ‘overkill’ but we don’t do that.
Most of our membership is active in their personal lives and most only set aside 5 to 60 days on average to the blue lodge. If you desire to have shorter meetings then change your blue lodge’s by-laws to meet on a weekly basis in a ‘stated’ versus ‘called’ capacity.
Finally, it is critical to communicate with all your brothers the ideas I am about to share because, without the brotherhood, it really doesn’t matter.
Here are 6 things I’d do right now to any Blue Lodge to help them get out of a rut:
1) Have a retreat to discuss what the Blue Lodge’s Craft really wants to do.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a hold-your-hands around a campfire affair while having someone is banging a bongo drum. It can simply be a morning or an afternoon that is scheduled for the lodge brothers. This is a meeting that is set aside from the stated or called communications and it is informal in nature where your lodge brothers can talk about what they want to do in the future.
I recommend that you have the secretary take notes during the meeting. Your goal should be to listen to find a few ideas that your lodge brothers are really excited about. Then, begin to focus on those ideas and challenge them to find ways to implement the ideas into the lodge’s annual calendar. The excitement and anticipation of these plans will motivate the entire blue lodge. How? – you might be wondering, well it is really simple. The secretary during the following stated communication reports on the results of the retreat and the ideas discussed. The Craft can then vote to fund those ideas and create even more positive buy-in with the brotherhood. This will get your lodge brothers engaged and excited if they could not and/or opted not to make the retreat.
2) You need to be the start of the solution and Get Your Blue Lodge Out of a Rut
Okay, so let’s say your lodge is not healthy. You can tell if this is the case because your brothers probably aren’t having much fun together. They don’t hang out after or before the meeting. They don’t communicate on social media and they don’t do things together with their families.
You need to be the ‘change agent’ and be the first to start to change that. Here is how you can do it. When you do something fun – invite your lodge brothers to join you!
The solution is actually very simple and you need to be okay with rejection. But just keep it up, when you do something fun, invite a brother or brothers to go along with you. If you like to go to dinner, invite another brother to go. It could be pizza or something else, just keep inviting them.
When you are taking your girlfriend or wife to the movies, invite another brother to bring his sweetheart and make it a double date. Or make it a guy’s night out and go see a movie then grab a sandwich somewhere afterward. If you have a young family, invite them to your place and have the kids watch a movie, while the adults play cards and talk or something along those lines. If you are retired, invite other retired brothers to go hang out at a coffee shop with their spouses and talk about stuff.
The point here is you need to develop friendships. We are all brothers by the degree work and paying our annual dues but we can’t take that for granted. By developing friendship between lodge brothers based on something – you will see the health of the fraternity improve. Thus, eventually, other like-minded lodge brothers will see what you are doing and start doing the same thing. Before long you’ll have a blue lodge that does things together and as small groups of like-minded brothers that enjoy a similar activity outside of the lodge.
It is okay to have various smaller groups doing things like motorcycle riding together, playing cards, getting coffee together, or riding rollercoasters together because everyone is different. And not everyone wants to do everything I just mentioned. This will help bring the lodge closer together and create conversations for brothers to share during a lodge’s dinner meeting. This will make your lodge brothers closer and interest them to want to regularly attend meetings.
Once that starts to happen, you are much more likely to have brothers begin to volunteer for degrees or committees. People like doing things with friends and sometimes feel obligated to help a friend if he is asked. As brothers, we need to create solid friendships that can last for a very long time.
3) Eliminate what ‘stinks’; ‘sucks’; and/or ‘is driving people away’.
If something ‘stinks’ or if something ‘sucks’ or if something ‘is driving people away’ – don’t do them. If you are doing things that the lodge’s brotherhood hates, that will drain their energy and get your blue lodge into a rut.
If your brothers don’t like doing something – just don’t do it. The fastest way to kill morale and decrease retention is to do something people hate. Let me give you an example if your lodge brothers prefer going out to eat versus doing a ‘Bring Your Own Dinner Item’ also known as a potluck dinner. Then don’t force your Craft to do that. Look at the age group and demographics to ensure that the lodge activities are fun for your desired target.
If you blue lodge brothers in your local Masonic fraternity don’t like community service project number 1, then do community service project number 2 or 3 which is deemed to be a lot more fun. Never allow anyone to make your fraternal experience to become a drag. If it is, you will quickly see that your brothers will literally stop coming to the Stated and/or Called Communications.
Further, it is important to take an audit of toxic brothers in the lodge. Are they really worth keeping? Granted they pay their dues on time and may even have value, but if they continually year after year damage the morale of the blue lodge by driving off good Masons. Should you take into consideration what is best for the lodge and not just the individual.
Lastly, if this toxic brother is rejecting sage advice of past master or a brotherly whisper in their ear for their questionable electioneering practices and/or un-Masonic behavior – it might be the time to cut them loose. It is never easy to do but you need to safeguard the future of the lodge and make certain it is a healthy future.
4) Learn to talk about the positives of Freemasonry and your local Blue Lodge all the time!
If you aren’t even getting good men you desire then maybe you need to research how to do things better. There are plenty of marketing books in the library and online to help you get on the right path. When you organize and implement events start with the end in mind. What is the goal of the event? Why are you doing the event? What are the desired results you wish to attain for putting or attending an event?
Be honest it’s okay to say that you don’t really know what you are doing. Ask for help – engage your brothers that have backgrounds in marketing, advertising, event planning, or similar industry knowledge. Engage and request their help to achieve the results and outcomes you desire. Some good resources are your Grand Lodge and District Team.
Remember, your Grand Lodge is there to help you do things correctly and to help you make more new Masons. Also, don’t forget to find books by Masons from another the world. These books have been specifically written to highlight their success stories. These books may also layout a complete ‘how-to guide’ for executing a great event or activity from start to finish. Some of the best books are not esoteric in nature – they may just be blunt and to the point by explaining everything you need to know to be successful during a lodge event.
5) Maybe it’s time to… Clean House.
I know it’s hard to get rid of your dead weight in our fraternity. Remember we are a society of secrets but not a secret society. This is regularly proven when you enter a new community and see our Craft’s Square and Compass next to the Rotary Club emblem. If we were a secret society then we would not put the logo on our building monument signs or on our buildings. With that being said, you need to be the brother who changes this warped perspective.
If you find your Craft refuses to want to grow, it is probably because there are some brothers who are holding you back. These brothers maybe rude to other brothers, they may be the ones that never pay for attending an event that requests money for attending. It could that you have a brother who is an embarrassment at community functions. First, talk to them directly, one on one and then with other brothers if necessary. Address the problem – don’t kick the can down the road.
If you find that a brother doesn’t get it and refuses to change, I recommend beginning the process to remove the toxic person. I hear brothers say guard the West Gate over and over, but sometimes you need to send a brother back out the west gate too. In the long term, your blue lodge will be better for it, I understand it is a tough decision now but you need to get rid of the un-Masonic brothers. Remember sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward, just make certain you have all the details perfect before you bring someone up on Masonic Charges.
6) You, as a change agent in your Blue Lodge, need to embrace the struggle and Get Your Blue Lodge Out of a Rut
I know things are challenging now. I know you can’t imagine the days when your Blue Lodge is tops in the community. You can get there though if you embrace the challenge with a superior attitude. Be positive, and cherish this opportunity you have. You are going to turn a tough situation into a great one.
Remember it starts with you and grows with the brothers to engage to join you in this adventure of a lifetime. Try new things, make mistakes. Strive to grow and implement the teachings of the Masonic degrees to help grow your local Masonic lodge. I promise you it will be an adventure you cherish forever. Lastly, it will impact numerous generations of men in the future that one day wears that white apron as a Master Mason.
Thanks for reading this blog article and read other topics related to building a better fraternity.
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