From the last installment, the point I wanted to build on was the item covered by Br. Dafoe’s article in the Masonic Journal and the missing membership. To touch on briefly what his article said, the most significant loss measured was in NPD’s and SNPD’s which made up the lion share of members who join our ranks, and then for a variety of reasons stop attending or paying dues. That in these numbers could be found the reason for the decline.
But, there are certain problems with that measure. When a member joins the organization the process can take several months, but when a member leaves, there is really very little process or paperwork, and consequently, no way to quantify why the member is leaving. This is different from returning an item or requesting a refund from a store where there is a short form or question involved to explain “why” the item is being brought back. In Masonry, that’s not the case, as there is no exit interview, no closure, to find the point of dissatisfaction. Rather it is a phantom hole, members who were there and now who are not.
So, because of that vacuum, there is no way of knowing what happened. Does the new member come in, stay a while, and then lose interest? Do they make the decision to drop out because of other membership obligations (church, work, bowling leagues, etc), or is that there was a lack of an affinity with Masonry itself? Did they just not find it relevant? Once they’ve left, do they pursue other interest groups (civic, spiritual, or academic)? What they do after Masonry is beyond the scope of our ability to know. All we can quantify it as is that they are no longer on the roles. Is it a society issue where there is a lack of resonance with the society, or is it sociological issue in that the ideas from the non masonic society is shaping their perception of what Masonry is supposed to be doing?
So this leads me to another question, are there other avenues to do what the lodge offers without having to meet to pay bills, or plan events? Is the competition today different than what it was before (say 50-100 years ago)?
In the next post, let’s look at some of the competition. What do you do when you’re not doing Masonry?