To Reinvest Or Start Anew?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor 
Robert H. Johnson

Today's article is not an article really, it's a question. I hope you all decide to voice your insights either below in the comments or on social media. Over the years we've heard countless folks talk about the benefits of an active lodge, but how do we get there? Many times lodges are in bad shape, financially and often times worse, with active membership. This can lead a man to view his membership with the specific lodge as unfulfilling, boring or even disdain.

Now, consider yourself the active member who still wants Freemasonry in his life. The question is put to us, what do we do when we decide that we still want to be active? We still want to enjoy those things that [our brand] of Masonry offers, whether it be a focus on some aspect of community, charity, education or perhaps fellowship. But where are we going to get it?

We have a few options. First, we can look for a lodge that exists which is doing what we want. This sounds easy, but maybe it isn't. Survey the lodges around you, are they really everything you want and nothing you don't? Maybe they are, and if so, you're done reading this article.

Our second option is the reinvention model. You're going to start a new lodge. Alright, well maybe not yet. It's been suggested by many that instead of getting everything together and chartering a new lodge, that we should instead look for a lodge that is in the dumps and take it over. Reinvigorate it, reinvent it. Is this for you? Will it work? Maybe the existing members will welcome this and it will work out perfectly... Or, it could be messy. We'll have a lot to clean up. Is this too much work for us? Maybe we love a challenge.

Of course the third option is to just start a new lodge. Write some bylaws, get some guys together, figure out where you will meet, get certified on ritual  and fill out the paperwork. Sounds easy enough but don't forget all the other hard work here. Gathering furniture, administrative work and red tape.

What's the best option?

I recently had a chance to ask a Grand Secretary about what he thought about new lodges, and if there is an impact for the better in terms of membership numbers and his answer surprised me. He offered me some thoughts on what the numbers prove in terms of new lodges. He said, "What we see when a new lodge is formed, is additional plural memberships and then sometime down the road, there is a dimit from the mother lodge and the guy maintains only a membership with the new lodge."

I hadn't thought of that. Membership numbers is not what this post is about, but perhaps if you were in the line of thinking about starting a lodge simply to boost membership numbers in the state, maybe that's not the right idea. The Grand Lodge of California has made it pretty simple to start a lodge, but the availability of the data on whether or not it seems to work is likely a few years away. It would be interesting to see if this model keeps members engaged, recruiting and active, thus sustaining what the members got together for in the first place. I'd like to leave you all with my final thought on the matter, and if you read my last piece, you'll know what to expect here. If we're doing any of the things outlined above, we really should be doing it for one reason, your own fulfillment.

So what say you? Do you reinvest, or do you start anew?


RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master. He is also a Past District Deputy for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid home brewer. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

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