Lodge leaders can sit around and come up with all kinds of ideas to make the lodge experience more interesting but if you don’t ask as many brothers as possible what they might like, you may not accomplish what you set out to do.
As part of our Lodge planning process we passed out note cards at one of our stated meetings and asked those in attendance the question: “What can we do to make Lodge meetings more meaningful to you?”
We asked that they put some thoughts on the card and hand it in at the end of the meeting. Here are some of the thoughts and ideas we received.
- Planned training classes to learn lectures and degree work. I found one on one to be very helpful.
- I would like to hear someone who would make me stretch my mind! I would like to hear someone who is an expert in his field inform & inspire me with new ideas. How about having a philosopher lecture?
- A telephone committee to call brethren to attend Lodge. No more than 10 calls for brother caller. Each meeting should have a purpose. I like the fellowship.
- Meal before the meeting. Good education program. Service call to action at each meeting.
- Provide opportunities to participate in things other than ritual work.
- Rejuvenate the moral standards of the members of our communities.
- Devote a few minutes at some or all stated meetings to re-enact portion of the various degree work & maybe have a discussion of the symbolic meaning. Encourage attendance of members at stated meetings that we can get better acquainted & inspire greater participation
- Improve ritual, adhere to lodge resolutions, advertise Freemasonry, communicate with members via telephone; not email. Email is not personal. Family nights – involve spouses, etc.
- Deeper meaning of why we are at NE #4.
- Dinners for members just for social time.
- Local speakers of note quarterly; Mayor, bank president, county commissioner, police chief, business leader.
- Get more of the new members to attend. Less time at stated meetings then more time can be spent having fellowship in dining facility.
- More fellowship. Get more members to attend; younger and older (car pool). Find out why they do not attend.
- Continue the increase of communication & information. The more our members know what is happening, the more they may attend. Lodge education and the new presenter at every meeting. Community events, other events at other lodges. People will feel more included. More information on website & phone recording.
What we discovered was that the main areas of emphasis we identified in our officer planning group and planned to improve on, closely aligned with the comments we received from our brothers. We had categorized our areas of emphasis into these; Leadership Development, Activities & Fellowship, Education, Communication, and Community Outreach.
We were pleased to see that we were on the right track and began for each category to set goals and create action plans to achieve the goals. Some of the ideas expressed were easily satisfied and we acted upon them immediately. For example:
- We asked our Lodge Education Officer to vary the type of programs presented and use various brothers as presenters. That allowed us to hear one brother, a military helicopter test pilot, talk about his job and allow us to try on his night vision helmet (way Cool!). Another program was presented by a new Master Mason who did a “walk around the Lodge” explaining the meaning of the various symbols.
- The Master streamlined the meeting agenda, charged the Stewards to improve the after meeting meal and we then had more time to just get to know each other and better food.
- We had a series of guest speakers from other community organizations describing what they do and how our Lodge could be involved.
- The communication comments were taken to heart and now there is an active committee assessing how we can improve our various forms of communication with the brethren as well as the community.
It is amazing what you can find out if you just ask. Not only do you find out what interests your brothers but you also may discover those who have a passion for a particular subject that will fill a need the Lodge may have. For example through this process we found a brother who loves to take photographs and design publications. Guess what? He is busy designing a new Lodge publication.
Leaders understand the need of asking their followers what is important to them. Then they listen and use what they hear to initiate positive action. So when you do Lodge planning don’t forget to ask your brothers what is important to them or you may find yourself going in the wrong direction.