Official Visit October 9 2015
For those of you who were able to attend the DDGM reception you will know that my theme this year is related to Membership and that my talk at the reception was specific to Attendance, in particular that by attending and taking part.... to whatever extent... we add greatly to the success of the event. As individual masons we often underestimate the value of our attendance.
I would like to carry on this theme this evening by talking about how we might target the membership to encourage them to become more active within the lodge....to increase attendance. In particular I want to talk about the lodge summons, newsletters and the general dissemination of information from the lodge to the membership.
Let’s start with perhaps the most basic and most familiar of these communication tools....the LODGE SUMMONS....
In most cases the lodge summons is basically the same from month to month....the Master’s message changes.... as well as a short piece covering the work for the upcoming meeting, but other than that, one month tends look much like the past with a relatively minor updating once per year.
The summons is usually the major printed contact material between the lodge and the member and for some its purpose is merely to announce the time and date of the meeting, and to provide minor details about the work planned as per the by-laws and the constitution of Grand Lodge.
All in all a pretty straight forward publication....but I ask myself.... are we missing an opportunity here?
Lodge Secretaries..this is not a condemnation of what you put out...all the summons in our District serve well the purpose to which they are designed…..but I want to try to awaken within you the desire to say and do more.
.......What if we added some Masonic education to the summons, what if we added some pictures....what if we recognised birthday’s and Masonic anniversaries….and I know for all of these that some lodges do this…
You might ask how does a more interesting summons improve the activity of the membership?
Potentially it generates interest in what the lodge is doing, makes one feel more a part of the lodge activities and is a STEP towards increasing the activity level of the membership.
Is it a magic pill?....NO ...will it in itself increase participation...probably not, but as I said .................it is a STEP along the path and in conjunction with other elements I feel that it has a good chance of reaching many of the members and thereby meeting the goal of increasing the participation of the membership in the activities of the lodge.
One of the reasons for a lack of body to a summons is the additional cost to mail it out....paper, ink and postage...yes this is true, but if we have a summons that either keeps or encourages participation, is the additional cost not worth it?
Adding to this is that many lodges have a lodge newsletter...or alternatively many districts have a District Newsletter.
I believe that one of the fundamental aspects of membership is the desire to belong to something that is worth belonging to! So we need to promote the lodge, district or Masonry in general to sell the concept that it is something worth belonging to and in particular it is something that is worth taking part in.
This is where the newsletter comes in....what better way to promote what we do, our successes, anniversaries, our activities and to promote all that Masonry has to offer. Our district for many years had a very successful newsletter which was orchestrated by a dedicated individual and involved a great deal of work......it served to promote what I have outlined. The basic concept here is that, it promoted what we do and increased the chances that our members would want to participate...... there’s that word again...
We are having some difficulty in resurrecting the district Newsletter in that the commitment needed is great and the present editor is undergoing some time and work pressures. That is why I have authorised the creation of a blog for the district as a way of quickly disseminating pictures and information. I would like to thank W.Bro. Roger Kitching and Bro. Ray Thoms for their efforts in this regard. We need to tell the story, we need to get the message out….but the greatest challenge is getting that message to the people who are not participating.
There is a fair bit of interesting information that is disseminated to the lodges via the DDGM, mostly from Grand Lodge. Add to this a wealth of information that exists in print and on the internet and we have a wealth of information that if disseminated to the membership could improve the DESIRE to be active...TO PARTICIPTE.
Brethren....by your presence here this evening and your general participation in our district you are not really the audience that my message needs to reach.....
You can be the medium that allows the message to be passed on to those that need to hear it...
The lodge needs to communicate with its members to promote what we do and induce or reignite the desire to increase PARTICIPATION in our less active members.
I believe that the most useful way of promoting what we do to the less active members is by getting each of you to convey the message personally....there is nothing better that a friend/brother talking up the goings-on at lodge....we need to make our “missing members” want to be active....as I keep saying, people want to be part of something that is good...start the fire...a spark that if the conditions are right....interesting and enjoyable brotherly interaction...then the blaze will erupt and we will have an active, valuable member of our beloved craft.
We simply do not promote enough....the lodge could do more via their summons, by ensuring it shares as much interesting information as possible via email or other means. The blog or a newsletter will I hope, serve to promote all the good we do and to promote the desirability of being part of what we do.
But lastly and more importantly, each one of you needs to be more cognisant of promoting our activities to our less active brethren...many them want to be part of what we do....they have just got out of the habit or perhaps the habit was never there….whose fault is that? open the door for them...I believe that we can be successful if we apply ourselves properly....will there be a quick turnaround in the level of activity?....will there be a deluge of now active members?...probably not...at least not initially....members did not stop being active in one step...they faded away...so let’s get them back the same way...one step at a time.....and if we can reach only a few them we will still have been successful. We are fortunate to be members of this beautiful craft; it has much to offer and it is incumbent on each of us to encourage our brethren to share in it with us.
Worshipful Master....I thank you for your indulgencies this evening and my Brethren I thank each and every one of you for your kind attention and hopefully my address was not too long, too boring and met my target...that being to start us down a path to ignite a desire in each of you to improve the activity of our membership.
R.W. Bro. Clive D. Stephenson
Official Visit – Bethel Lodge
Friday October 9, 2015