Has your lodge accepted an unknown candidate from the internet?
Before we commence with the third article in this series, I would like to summarise the first two articles.
In the first article we discussed mindsets, and lodge members readiness to contemplate the idea of accepting an unknown candidate from the internet into their lodge.
For some members this will be quite an obvious route to the long-term success and health of the lodge and Freemasonry in general.
There will be many members who will never accept the idea, as for them, it is far too radical a change to the lodge.
Then there will be those, who might be sceptical, but are open to change, and in time will be supporters for the strategy.
In the second article, we discussed how to use social media marketing to attract new potential members. The idea to separate Freemasonry from membership.
The concept to sell membership as a product. Focus on the benefits of being a member.
Never forgetting, people buy benefits.
Now in the third article, we look at how the whole process is managed, from first contact, through to Initiation, Passing, Raising and beyond.
The Lodge Membership Officer
The Lodge Membership Officer is critical to oversee the success of the whole process, from first contact through to Initiation. Clearly, they should be a supporter for the initiative, and they will need to commit time and energy to the following:
Enquiries will come from many social media platforms. Therefore, a good level of competency with Email, SMS text, WhatsApp, Facebook iMessage, and Instagram Direct Messenger.
They should also have time available in their daily life routine, to be able to quickly respond to incoming messages through the various communication sources.
Patience and tenacity are two very good qualities for a Lodge Membership Officer, as they should be prepared to undertake 20 – 50 points of communications for each new candidate.
The Lodge Interviewing Panel
An interviewing panel should be established under the leadership of the Lodge Membership Officer.
It is important that, as soon as practically possible, the prospective candidate has an initial face-to-face meeting with lodge members, ideally two members, one being the Lodge Membership Officer.
The initial screening interview serves two purposes: first to ascertain how serious the applicant is in becoming a Freemason, and will he fit in within the lodge? Secondly, for him to understand the joining process, from this first meeting right up until his Initiation.
This initial meeting should also address the three critical qualification requirements for membership; a belief in a deity (if that is a requirement with-in your obedience); is he free of criminal record; and does he satisfy the minimum age?
The other three areas that should be discussed include: his time commitment to attend meetings, and LOI; the financial commitments to lodge dues, dining, and charity; and finally, his family supporting him in his application to become a Freemason.
In my own personal experience as a member of the interview panel, while undertaking the initial screening process, the most common issue for applicants is their own time commitment, either to family or due to work.
If now is not the right time for them, then it should be suggested and presented in a positive way, that they should wait until family or their work situation changes. Accepting a candidate at the wrong time in their life, will result in them quitting the lodge and Freemasonry altogether. If that happens, the interview team have failed in their duty of care to both the applicant and the lodge.
As a guide, aim to arrange at least three meetings, each meeting with two different members, each meeting takes about one hour. That translates to about six man hours before the applicant makes their petition to the lodge.
Some lodges will have additional steps in their interview process. The most important objectives are, that the candidate understands what is expected of him, and he understands what he can expect from the lodge. So both sides can fulfil the others expectations.
If this is achieved, then the lodge will have gained an asset, and the applicate will have joined a good lodge and will be set on the right path to enjoy his Masonic career.
The Lodge Mentor
The Lodge Mentor should be able to appoint and supervise a team of private mentors, to look after individual new members.
I would also suggest that the Lodge Mentor is not the DC or Secretary doubling up, as they will have a full time role in the success of the whole process.
The Lodge Mentor should be involved at the early stages, and ideally be a member of the pre-screening interview panel.
The Lodge Mentor will be looking to match a Private Mentor to coach the candidate. The sooner the Private Mentor is introduced to the prospective candidate the better.
The Lodge Communications Officer
The Lodge Communications Officer will be responsible for the social media communications.
With the absence of outside help, the Lodge Communications Officer will be responsible for creating images and text elements for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Also producing a schedule to post on a regular basis.
In reality, very few private lodges will have a member with the necessary skill set. They may have the enthusiasm, but not the skill set to carry the task through.
Therefore, I anticipate that the District / Provincial Grand Lodges will need to support private lodges in their jurisdiction with the necessary materials and tool kits, so that the Lodge Communications Officer is able to prepare, produce and run a successful social media marketing campaign.
United Grand Lodge of England Pathway to Success
United Grand Lodge of England has developed an 11-step lodge management structure – The Members’ Pathway. This is a guide for lodges to focus on the important points regarding membership and mentoring.
There is a tri-fold overview which outlines the 11 steps, then a more detailed 20-page step guide and a further 248 comprehensive guide. It is available at https://b.ugle.org.uk/membership
This guide has been prepared by United Grand Lodge of England for lodges that meet in its provinces and districts overseas.
Undertaking the work in the lodge
The final part to this jigsaw is the ability to undertake the work in the lodge. Be prepared for success. A successful outcome will be where a lodge is able to attract enquiries, filter these, and undertake the degree work in the lodge in a timely manner.
As a short term measure, it might be possible to invite other lodges in close proximity to undertake some degree work in their lodge.
The long term strategy must be to be able to undertake all the degree work in the lodge, which might mean undertaking multiple candidate ceremonies (a discussion for another time).
The message is be prepared for success. The members in progressive office will have more work to undertake. There will be a higher level of time commitment required from senior lodge members.
It is very easy to be a member of a failing lodge. Just sit back and let it fail!
It takes a lot of time and effort to be a member of a successful lodge.
So before you set out on this strategy, ask yourself this question:
Do I want to take the easy option and be a member of a failing lodge – or do I want to take the difficult option and be a member of a thriving successful lodge?
Article by: Nicholas J Broadway
Nicholas Broadway was initiated into Freemasonry in 1989 in Stonewell Lodge No. 9137, Essex England and was Master in 1995, 2011 and 2016. He also joined other UGLE Lodges and is a PZ in the Holy Royal Arch.
He moved to West Sussex and assists the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex Communications Team with Social Media activities. He acquired the title of The Square Magazine in January 2020 and oversees the technical running of the digital publication.