|Midnight Freemasons (L to R) Senior Contributor Greg Knott, Managing Editor Robert Johnson, and Founder Todd E. Creason|
What Is Masonic Education? Part 3
by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
So in the first couple installments (which you'll find by clicking here), I've talked a lot about Masonic education. The difference between Masonic education and ritual instruction. I've talked about how providing meaningful Masonic education in your Lodges can solve a lot of the problems your Lodges are having with membership and money. But now we're down to the big question. How do we get it going?
As with any new things you're going to want to do, you're going to encounter resistance to the idea. You're going to have that group that doesn't want to do anything differently than they always have. So go slow, don't ask for a help, and be willing to do the work yourself. Because when it comes right down to it, most of the resistance you're going to encounter are going to come from members that simply don't want additional work or expense. I'm sorry to say that so bluntly, but it is true.
Just ask for ten minutes at the end of the meeting. If you can't get that, ask for a few minutes in the dining hall before or after the meeting. Then put together really, really interesting topics to present. Don't waste that time by just reading an article from a Short Talk Bulletin, or from The Midnight Freemasons. Put something together they are going to enjoy. Something that is interesting to them. This is sell job, so sell it.
Have you got one member a little more resistant than the others to change? What's he interested in? If I were you, I'd be putting something together that he's interested in, and then during the presentation, ask him if there is anything he'd like to add. Do you see what I'm talking about now? Go slow. Start really small. Don't waste the time you have. Sell it.
Birds Of A Feather
You're going to find others interested in what you're doing. Recruit them. Get them interesting in helping. Get them interesting in presenting pieces during that ten minutes. Make that ten minutes the ten minutes in that meeting that everyone looks forward to. That's how the Midnight Freemasons started. Just me. Three days a week. Lucky to get two or three hundred hits a day. Just doing my thing, and then I found others. There's now more than a dozen Midnight Freemasons, with over 2 million readers.
You've heard the expression, "you give him an inch, and he'll take a foot." That's me. Always has been. And if you want to get this going, that needs to be you as well. Ask for a little more time once you get it going. Ask if you can invite an outside speaker--maybe somebody from another Lodge. Ask if you can advertise your topics and invite other Lodges to join your meetings so they can enjoy the presentations. Again, don't waste that time, and take the time necessary to prepare really good presentations. Offer to do the same in other local Lodges. Let it be known you'll travel and do ten minutes wherever you're invited. And you will be invited--I promise you that.
What You'll Soon Discover
If you're successful, those critics in the beginning will become your biggest fans. They'll see more people attending meetings. They'll enjoy the education you're providing. You may even find the meetings go faster and are a little less tedious because because the members will be focused on getting to the education portion of the meeting. That "education portion" of the meeting that was originally met with so much resistance will become the center of your meetings. Your members will be talking about it, and as a result you may even receive new petitions. Other members will begin having ideas about education in the Lodge. We had a Trivia Night and we invited other Lodges to join us one evening--basically it was Jeopardy on Masonic topics. It was very fun to do. How about a symposium? How about a table lodge? Get ready, because if you can get through that initial resistance to change, you're going to find a very enthusiastic following, and no shortage of ideas.
Where Does It All Lead?
To better men--that's where. That's our purpose, and the world has never been more in need of men of good character. As a society, we don't teach values as well as we used to, and a Masonic Lodge should be a place where young men can come to learn those morals, values, and ethics that makes a young man a gentleman.
To a more prosperous Lodge. My Lodge has a museum. We put that together to share the history of our Lodge, our historic building, as well as Freemasonry in general. We have open houses every so often, and the community comes up and tours our museum and our building. We have a young college student interested in joining our Lodge. His aunt had arranged for him to tour the building five or six years ago when he was still in grade school. He never forgot it. I think we'll soon get a petition from him.
In my opinion, the education officer in the Lodge has one of the most important jobs there is. If he does his job right, he can save a dying Lodge by bringing light back to the membership. He can bring new energy and interest to the members. There are libraries full of knowledge and teachings on the topic of Freemasonry. It has intrigued and interested generations of men, and it still holds that power today if one person in every Lodge simply took an interest in it, and made it their job to bring it to their Brethren.
A few weeks ago, I was the keynote speaker at a symposium put on by the Illinois Lodge of Research. It was a well planned and well attended program. The purpose of that program was two-fold really. First, the Illinois Lodge of Research for all intensive purposes has been dormant for many years. So that programs was kind of a coming back out party. The second purpose was to rebuild the organization by rebuilding a core group of strong Masonic authors, researchers, scholars, and presenters.
Now the Midnight Freemasons are not taking any direct credit for the resurgence of the Illinois Lodge of Research, but as I looked around the room, I realized the Midnight Freemasons influence was definitely there. There were three Midnight Freemasons there presenting topics, and three additional Midnight Freemasons guest contributors in attendance--one of those played an integral role in planning and putting on the event! The Master of the Illinois Lodge of Research, Jim Tome, is also the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Illinois, and has been instrumental in helping us get a new education-based Chapter of the Royal Arch started in my Lodge in Homer, Illinois--Admiration Chapter. He's been involved in much of what we're doing with Admiration Chapter, and he's seen a lot of what we've been doing with our Masonic Temple in Homer, Illinois. And at the end of that symposium, Jim Tome announced where they'd like to hold the next symposium. I'm sure you'll never guess. At the Masonic Temple in Homer, Illinois. The home of Admiration Chapter!
So when I tell you to start small, don't think it's going to stay small. It won't. Like a snowball rolling down hill, you'll gain momentum, and the size will continue to grow. Others will see what you're doing, and be inspired to start their own projects. There is tremendous interest out there about Freemasonry, and if you teach it, and if you do a good job teaching it, you're going to find tremendous success. So if you want to see change, you can't sit around waiting for somebody else to do it. You have to be the change.
Good luck, my Brothers! Now get busy! There's work to be done!
Todd E. Creason, 33° is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and is a regular contributor. He is the award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is the author of the From Labor to Refreshment blog. He is the Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754. He is a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. He is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research. (FMLR) and a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org