Pennsylvania Masonic Restoration


Our Masonic journey should not end when we take a seat after receiving the third degree, but for far too many Brothers it does. It is easy to blame them for some failure to engage. It is harder, but more on target, to focus on what we failed to do. Freemasonry is a fraternity, not a solitary pursuit. It is as important to engage new members as it is to initiate them into the Craft. In this section, various ideas are presented to help you find ways to connect with new members and keep them coming back to lodge.

Your lodge is a new social network for every new member. They may know a couple people (at least their recommenders and those they met briefly during the investigation), but they can see those people in other settings. What will bring them back to lodge is to connect them with the great men in the lodge they don't already know. If they build friends and feel welcome right from the start, they'll have more desire to some back. Then good programs will keep them interested.

One way to connect with new members (and old alike) is to set up an official greeting committee. Every lodge has a number of regular attendees who have warm personalities. Designate two or three of them as greeters and task them with welcoming every Brother and candidate at each meeting. It is a small thing, but a warm smile, a strong handshake and some welcome words can go a long way to build a lodge. Remember that the officers are often busy with preparations before the meeting and may not have time to greet everyone, particularly just before the meeting starts. This is a job for interested members who can focus on it fully. A welcome by name is even better and your greeters should try to learn all candidates names so that they feel a part of the lodge from the very first night.
The Grand Lodge has a detailed mentoring program and that is encouraged. Beyond that though is your own unique lodge. Every lodge has its quirks, traditions and history. Every lodge has its story tellers, jokesters, ritualists and all different kinds of hobbyists. A good lodge mentor program will connect with new members to give them useful help on those other things that make your lodge experience unique. Show them your library, your history and how to get around the lodge building and find things like another roll of toilet paper or coffee cups. Connect them to the lodge and make them feel that it is as much theirs as it is the older members' lodge. Introduce them to the Brothers in the lodge that tell stories or jokes or with whom they have hobbies in common. This type of mentoring goes beyond the mentoring in Masonic education and seeks to connect on a personal level with the new member. A new Brother should feel at home to pick up a book from the bookcase or be able find a tissue when he needs it. It makes them feel a part of the lodge and not an outsider.
Many lodges either throw new members right into an appointed office or leave them entirely unengaged. Either extreme can drive them away. Engaging them to help the lodge right away, but without the pressure of performing as an officer is a happy medium. An old method of accomplishing that still exists in various lodges: setting the new members to serving. Having new members help the Steward(s) serve the meal or snack is a way for them to directly help the lodge (starting the night of their 1st degree) and also puts them into a position to interact with many members and form some relationships. So long as you only keep them as helpers for a few months and treat them well, they'll benefit. They will have learned to pitch right in, met with a bunch of members instead of sitting in a corner and felt engaged with the lodge. Then you should speak with them about what they'd like to help with in the lodge and connect them with that work, be it ritual, charity, education, stewardship or whatever.
Our lodges are made up of a diverse group of men. We have hunters, gamers, ball players, model railroaders, football fans, fishermen, ritualists, history buffs, motorcyclists and on and on. Recognizing these interests and setting up clubs for them within the lodge can accomplish several good things. First, it can connect new members to existing members with which they have something in common. Second, it can provide your lodge with a source of programs for meetings put on by the various clubs about their interest. Third, it opens the door to lodge activities for fellowship as well as connecting with the community or fundraising for charity. It takes no work or money from the lodge to recognize clubs and you can have as many or as few as the members want. Clubs can inject some fellowship and interest into the lodge as well as give members more reason to keep coming back.