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The Recruitment of New Freemasons

October 4, 2007

master-mason.jpg  A few nights ago, the Brother in the middle was Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason.  The other two of us were able to do a small part during his degree ceremony, and after he was Raised, we were able to “prove up” on our catechisms as Master Masons infront of him.

While this picture was being taken last week, I overhead some officers in my Lodge comment that this picture would show the future of Freemasonry – a younger future.  The picture is of my cohort group in my Lodge and our average age is just north of 30.  We went through the degrees together – some in a group and some individually. 

We were told at the end of the night from a visiting Grand Lodge Officer, that the numbers of Freemasons in Alberta are now on the increase again.  My Lodge initiated six new Entered Apprentices last year, and we have 4 new Petititions to join right now.  The average age of all ten would be in their mid 30’s.  For Freemasonry to continue to grow, younger members need to be attracted to the craft.

We were told at the end of the night, that since we have passed our proficiency as Master Masons, we are eligible to sponsor new candidates and were encouraged to do so.  If we knew anybody who we thought was of good moral character and would be a good fit within the Craft, we should not hesitate to bring up the topic of Freemasonry. 

The easiest way to attract younger members is to already have younger members, so we are fortuitously already along that path.  But how do you attract younger members without recruiting in the first place?  I think the problem with younger men being expected to find their own way to the front door of a Masonic Lodge is that most have never heard of Freemasonry.   

My understanding is that a man has to find his own way to Masonry, and ask to join himself. So do I tell him about the Craft, but never ask him if he would like to join?

This is my 29th post on Freemasonry and my experiences as a Freemason.  Here is the Table of Contents of my Masonic Journey.

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7 comments

  1. I’m still a Fellow Craft, so I can’t really speak to Master Mason-related issues, but to me, it should all be in modeling one’s journey. As an illustration, I am a Bible-believing Christian, and though I have been taught to evangelize and spread the Gospel, I admit that I tend to be more of an introverted person when talking with people. So, I just try to live my life as a “good Christian” so that people will associate my faith with my actions, and hopefully, see something in me that they might desire.

    The same, I believe, would hold true for Freemasonry. Modeling an ethical, moral life, and being proud of and vocal about that which contributed to making you that way should really be the primary goal.

    And I guess sporting a Masonic ring or bumper sticker wouldn’t hurt either…. 😉


  2. As much as I want to see the ranks of Freemasonry swell to new heights, I think you will agree that we want men who want to be with us for the right reasons. If we buffalo a lot of recruits with cattle-drive efficiency, those guys might or might not have an interest that sustains them in the Craft. But the man who comes to us is certainly ready. Like the previous commentator, I have a bumpersticker, and I never hesitate to mention the lodge, but generally I stop short of overt solicitation. I will admit that I am more assertive with my non-Mason friends of whom I have no reservations about suitability, but that’s all. Recently in my jurisdicition, they have allowed a “proxy petition” meaning that the lodge can vote on you and admit you without you even knowing about it. I think that is not the right way to go. One must be prepared in his heart, as you well know, before approaching the West gate.
    Just my $0.02.

    http://audevidetace.blogspot.com/


  3. In today’s world, where everyone has (and broadcasts) lofty ambitions, goals, and glossy 4-colour pamphlet I find there is a great deal of talk and not a lot of action. Actions speak louder than words. By constantly acting in the manner to which Freemasonry has historically been associated, our actions will speak louder than any 4-colour pamphlet we could produce.

    A man has to be ready in his heart and mind to fully appreciate, understand, and integrate with the tenets of Freemasonry. I feel that this cannot be done in an overt manner and “forcing” someone to become aware of the Craft or to join it. I wear the bling and speak openly about it when someone asks. But I do it in a subtle manner, much like the personality of the Craft.

    So we go through our daily lives as Masons in a manner that does not hit men over the head with it. What does that provide us? It provides us a group of men who come to the fraternity because they want to. If I see someone I respect doing something, then I am much more likely to ask questions about it and if I join their group, I am more likely to be strong on the uptake and stay around after the initial excitement has worn off. This commitment is what we need to sustain our membership.

    But I have never fully understood this apparently insatiable need to swell our ranks. I see it as the quality vs. quantity debate. When I am in a Lodge, I would much rather have a smaller group of men doing great ritual work and outside the Lodge, having a group of men that support me in all aspects. Freemasonry is still a tremendous organization even if there’s 20 or 20,000 members in your jurisdiction. In North America, each state/province has their own Grand Lodge. Is there really a need for this? In the business world, there is a lot of mergers happening and regions being merged together. I wonder sometimes if there is an ego thing happening as it relates to Grand Lodges not considering amalgamation. Individual Lodges do this all the time when one or more is struggling and then proceed to thrive. There is a certain number that is required to attain critical mass otherwise not much can happen.

    Look at some of the other groups that are similar, what are their numbers like? Probably not as good as Freemasonry’s. Big is not always better.

    So if the current roster of Freemasonry is aging and newer members are required to keep the numbers at least stable, then how can this be accomplished? Act in your regular life as the best Mason you can be. Let your male friends and coworkers know that you are a Mason. If they are in the right place in their lives, then they will see and respect your strong morals and values and start talking to you about it. Otherwise, they are likely to join, drift through the degrees, and then fade into the darkness. Once that has occurred, then they will go forward with the message that Freemasonry is not worthy of their friend/coworker’s time and effort. Is that the message we want to have conveyed?

    I think back to the NE angle lecture, “…from the foundation laid this evening, may raise a superstructure perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder.” Also about the rough and smooth ashlars. The rough ashlar was selected from the quarry because it was seen as having good qualities and is thus formed into a perfect ashlar by removing its rough edges. A poor stone would not have been selected. We are all rough ashlars who saw in ourselves and by others that there were good qualities worthy of refinement towards a perfect ashlar. Is our goal to find every decent piece of rock in the world and turn it into a perfect ashlar? Or is it to take the ones that we find in the quarry of our daily lives and work on perfecting them. Even with this very selective process, there has been a great number of buildings created my Masons over the centuries. If every rock that had potential was made perfect, I suspect we’d have a few more magnificent buildings, but would likely have a lot more piles of perfect ashlars without a use.


  4. Ever since I became a Mason (and more frequently since the night I was raised) the subject of Masonry has come up in conversation — usually by the other person. A couple of examples: A woman commented to me, after hearing about my Lodge and its activities, that Freemasonry would be great for her husband. A guy at work saw my ring and asked if I was a Mason. After telling him, at his request, more about the organization, he said he’d give some thought to joining. In both cases, I said an expression of interest would be enough for me to bring a petition.

    The most common answer I give: “If you’re interested, we’d be delighted to consider you for membership.”

    We’re not permitted to recruit in my jurisdiction, so that’s about as far as I go. However, I do make a point to note that younger guys are joining regularly. For example, I participated in a raising last week at another Lodge in town. The candidate was 23.

    My Lodge has plenty of men in their early and mid 30s who regularly attend, plenty in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and the much older guys — in their 80s and 90s — remain active as well. We also have our fair share of college-age men and recent college grads. Some are regular about attendance, others appropriately put education first. It’s a great mix of people.

    “You’d make a great Mason.” Now that’s something I’ve said to very close friends of mine — people who I know without a doubt would bring good things to the Craft and would benefit from it as well. But that’s as far as I’ve gone, and I only really say it at the end of a related conversation.


  5. I am 20 years old and was raised a few weeks ago.

    As soon as I became an EA, I told several brothers in my college fraternity that I had become a Mason — nothing more, not even any details about the process or purpose of Freemasonry.

    Now that I’m a MM, several of them have independently expressed to me their interest in becoming Masons, and this Thursday evening, three of them will be visiting a lodge — my lodge — for the first time ever.

    When these guys heard I was doing it, I think they realized Freemasonry must not be just a bunch of old farts, so they figured they might look into it as well. No work, no invitations, no active recruitment whatsoever… a simple mention from a young guy did it.


  6. I am nearly 30, still a pretty young age for an EA as far as I can see from my lodge and what I have been told is the average age for Masonry. I was not so much recruited as welcomed in ways I thought would not be forthcoming. I had been interested in Freemasonry for a number of years, but felt that due to my not being Christian that I was not welcome in the degrees. When I started /really/ digging I found brothers who were of all faiths. This set me looking for my local lodge and finding the website I noticed the 2b1ask1 link. There have been Masons in my family, but they were long passed and the closest I knew in my daily life was a lady who I admired who was actively involved in The Order of the Eastern Star. I found the Brothers open, and accepting and this more than anything but my personal desire to know more kept me going.

    Simply having the link and an open invitation will bing more young brothers. Many want to know more about masonry, or are fascinated with it’s mysteries. In ages past when man was fascinated by phenomena he did not understand he made up myths about the cause or origin of them. It is no wonder that people make up fantastic stories about something they feel is beyond their reach and comprehension. The prevalence of fanciful stories can partially be attributed to a desire to explain and quantify something they do not understand. The desire merely being there is not a bad thing .


  7. You have my every sympathy here; this is an important question if the Craft is to survive.

    Quite frankly, Freemasonry is facing a crisis; organizations that adapt to the crisis with their central values intact will survive; those who don’t, won’t.

    We need to recognize that, as the Masonic Information Center put it in their “It’s About Time!” publication, the general public to a large extent simply doesn’t know that Freemasonry still exists. People searching for the kind of light that Masonry offers must be aware that Freemasonry exists, and what it is about, if they are to seek after it.

    The issue of actually asking a person if he is interested is a tender point in many Masonic jurisdictions. However, it surely makes sense to advertise our presence in open houses and the like. (FYI, I have a number of free downloads on my site to help people to structure open houses, as well as a download regarding building Masonry in the 21st century. Just go to the “Free Downloads” page on this site: http://www.thesquareandcompasses.com .)

    Good luck to you in your ongoing reflections on this issue.



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