The easiest way to approach this point is to perhaps list some of the more dominant activities that tend to be the biggest draw away from the lodge.
- Church – Church membership offers much of what a Masonic lodge promulgates by way of affinity and fellowship. It also involves family intimately in its practice, allowing for more fellowship and familial bonding.
- Charity/Volunteer – Opportunities abound in today’s society to give back. From the American Cancer Society to the YMCA. At any point, the interested party can man a booth, wash a car, help sell cookies, deliver food, answer phones, rebuild trails, or ring a doorbell; they can give of themselves financially or in person fulfilling the desire to give back.
- Hobby Clubs – These interest groups span the gamut from sports, politics, cooking, crafts, hobbies, etc… If you have a particular interest a variety of clubs exists to meet that need. Even within other organizations, multiple levels of clubs exist that offer an assortment of opportunities. Often these, the interaction can be as frequent as desired or as sporadic, and dues are usually minimal if existent at all besides covering costs.
- School groups – From the elementary PTA to social fraternities on college campus, there is a diverse range of opportunities to spend time and money on from baking cupcakes to manning a float in a parade. Usually these endeavors are encouraged as they raise and bolster the spirit of the group to build connectivity to the institution.
- Work – While not a club, the obligation of work is not to be ignored. With a diverse society today, many work in fields that resemble the ethos of a club, in that ones profession is most likely closely allied to their passion, and their work obligation stretches beyond the 9-5 time clock.
I have no doubt that this list could go no, but I think you can see all of the distractions that we all have before us. When we have so little time to dedicate for in our interest areas, we are forced to be selective. And in this age there are a lot of interest areas to go around. In fact websites exist to link a volunteer with an interest, Hobbyists to local hobby clubs, School Booster resources. Many websites exist for both churches and employment, or even social interactions including Facebook and Linkedin.
So why choose the Masonic meeting? Many have said that the detraction is that the meetings don’t accomplish much, that they are focused on past meetings minutes, paying bills or reading communications. That very little work is passed down, let alone education. There maybe a special interest in the history of the process of the meeting, with a special ceremony and in a special room, to get things done, but with so much competition, are new attendees very keen on the SAME activity EVERY month, year after year? Are you satisfied with the same format of meeting month to month?
Does the monthly business meeting meet our needs today? By changing it, does it forsake those that enjoy that type of activity?
With the degree to which our meetings repeat themselves is it the way we meet that makes us Freemasons? Is it our ancient landmarks that dictate the way in which we meet, or is it more a long period of doing the same thing over and over that has trained us such that the practice has become a perpetual habit? Do we meet and conduct meetings in our particular way because it is how we have done it since “Time Immemorial”?
If the way we meet is the measure of our success or failure then what exactly do we do in the meeting of a Masonic lodge? What “should” a lodge meeting look like? How can we do it better and what should we be doing in them?
That should be the next step we examine.