An Interview With Brother Justin Jones
Freemasonry, in many cases, is now in the hands of Millennial Masons and Millennial Masons are not settling for “this is the way we have always done it.”
Last month (February 2108) we featured the interview of Brother Rhit Moore – HERE. Brother Moore, barely 40 years old, told us that Millennials in Freemasonry seek value and that they are seeking something MORE. In their pursuit of something more with a value the worst thing you can do is waste their time, he says. Brother Moore also gave us what his Lodge has done to become vibrant, successful and growing.
This month we feature another Millennial Mason, 34-year-old Brother Justin Jones. Brother Jones tells us it doesn’t have to be this way. He tells us that he entered Freemasonry with high expectations into a Lodge where both his Grandfather and Father still belong. But after completing his Master’s work he left Freemasonry in disillusionment. Only by the constant urging of his father did he return.
You might remember if you followed Brother Moore’s story, that he too left Freemasonry only to return at the urging of his father. In Brother Moore’s case, he returned to be inspired by the work, and in Brother Jone’s case he returned to be inspired by the writings of many like-minded Masons who had traveled his journey, especially the publication Laudable Pursuit. He became a sponge for the writings of those who showed the way to Masonic improvement.
Both these Millennial Masons talk about the disconnect with the way Lodges were run by Masons their grandfather’s age. Youth, by nature, has vigor and drive to set the world on fire and Age tends to say – been there done that and let’s not rock the boat but keep doing things the way we have always done them. This is a natural clash. The older generation is resistant to change. However, change is life, and he who desires to freeze the world in its present state forever will soon find himself alone and cut off from the rest of the world.
This Masonic withdrawal from the world and its change are what is primarily responsible for the dwindling number of Masons in the USA. It leads to Lodges that Jones tells us really don’t do anything. They don’t want to do anything. They gather for boring business meetings and the fellowship of coffee and stale donuts after which they leave as fast as they can. Or they turn themselves into a Service Club financed by fundraisers to keep dues low. Instead of concentrating on how to make good men better they become the servant of the profane.
Jones tells us this about Masons from years gone by:
“When we volunteered our time we didn’t do it in our aprons. We didn’t wear our jewels to the city council meeting, and we didn’t pass out petitions at the church potluck. Still, people knew these men were Freemasons, and it was witnessing these community leaders embody the noble tenants of our fraternity that often compelled many to turn in their petitions.”
Into that milieu stormed Brother Justin Jones.
Once his eyes were opened to the possibilities of what a Masonic Lodge could be, he has not stopped in his quest to inform any and all who will listen that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Jones started with a Masonic Blog, followed by a Facebook Page and finally a YouTube channel. They are all titled “Masonic Improvement.”
In his Blog post “The Lesson Of The Garden Club” and his video “Why I left Freemasonry” we can see the frustrations of the Millennial Mason and why many leave as fast as they are initiated. In his three-part Blog series on Lodge Culture, he lays out how to change the deadly spiral Freemasonry finds itself in. He talks about Lodge Mission Statements, vision, and goals. He explains the difference between a Lodge’s Climate and a Lodge’s Culture and recounts the experience in his first Lodge where as Master he changed the Climate but not the Culture. Jones is a firm believer in continuous improvement that a Lodge must continually reassess where it is going and what it is accomplishing.
He tells us,
“Continuous improvement requires buy-in from the majority of stakeholders, a goal to strive for, and a way to measure progress. In our organization we often see leaders making important decisions with no buy-in from the membership and goals are often general or non-existent”
Some of the titles from Jones’ other Blog posts will give you an idea of where his thoughts are:
- The Chamber of Refraction
- Dues That Still Don’t
- Beginning With The End In Mind
- Masonic Improvement: Creating A Vision and Goals
- The Progressive Line, How It Can Improve Your Masonic Lodge (Or Not)
- Millenial Apprentices: The Next Revolution In Freemasonry by Samuel Friedman
- Simple Concepts That Will Improve Your Masonic Lodge
- 2 Thoughts On Continuous Masonic Improvement
- The Importance Of Having A “Why” For Freemasons and Masonic Lodges
- A Look At The Past: The Lost Art of Masonic Retention
Jones is not just influenced by Masonic writers. Stephen Covey inspires him. And he recently posted these thoughts on his Facebook page:
I’m currently rereading “Laudable Pursuit” (read it here http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/Laudible%20Pursuit.pdf) and this quote really resonated with me:
“The harder we have to struggle for something, the more precious it becomes.
Somehow, in sacrificing, we prove to ourselves that what we’re
seeking is valuable. This holds true when we’re pursuing membership.
Sacrifice locks commitment. As people strive to make it through rigorous selection standards and work to prove their worthiness, they persuade themselves that being a part of the group matters.
Initiation rites – like high walls and narrow gates of entry – build
commitment to the group through making acceptance hard to come by.
Being allowed to join becomes something special. An achievement. A privilege. And it creates a sense of exclusiveness.
Belonging doesn’t count much if almost anybody can drift in or drift out of your group at will. If it’s easy to join up, then leave and return, only to leave again, commitment can be hard to find.
Initiation rites also create a common bond of experience that unites all who make it through the ordeal. A strong sense of “we-ness” comes from having gone through a common struggle. This identification with the group
Finally, stiff criteria for admission cause the weak-hearted to de-select themselves. They opt out after weighing the costs. For them, the rights of membership aren’t worth going through the rites of Initiation.
People with low commitment never get inside.
The greater the personal investment in getting accepted, the more one builds a stake in the organization. This means you should make membership a big deal. Let people pay a price to join.
That guarantees commitment at the outset, and also makes it easier to build commitment later on.
Make membership hard to come by, and commitment comes naturally.”
— Price Pritchett
Firing Up Commitment For Organizational Change
(Pritchett & Hull Associates, 1994)
Brother Justin Jones in the embodiment of what Millennial Masons are expecting from the Craft. Take due notice and govern yourselves accordingly.