In the short term, Odd Fellowship is all about who is sitting around the Lodge table with you.   In the long term, however, Odd Fellowship is all about the generations.   Let’s begin by defining our terms.   At any given time in human history, there are typically five living generations (a generation is normally 20 years, more or less).   The same is true today.   The five generations that exist today are:

  1. The Silent Generation.   Born between the 1920’s to 1945.   Ages in 2024: 79 and up.
  2. The Baby Boomer Generation.   Born between 1946 to 1964.  Ages in 2024: 60 to 78.
  3. Generation X.  Born between 1965 to 1980.  Ages in 2024: 44 to 59.
  4. Millennials.  Born between 1981 to 1996.   Ages in 2024:  28 to 43.
  5. Generation Z.  Born between 1997 to the present.   Ages in 2024:  Newborn to 27.

Baby Boomers have been, for many years, the most numerous of these generations, and it is fair to say that Baby Boomers are currently the dominant cohort of Odd Fellows.    But that is changing.   In 2019, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation in the United States.   And in just a few years – probably in 2028 – it is projected that Generation X will pass the Boomers in population as well.

It is late in the generational day, but unless Odd Fellows Lodges start bringing in more new members from the tranche of Generation X and Millennials, we are on a slow (but rapidly accelerating) path toward irrelevancy.   Time will catch up with us, if it hasn’t already done so.   Because generations tend to span a period of about 20 years, the effect of generational change is not felt immediately.   It’s a slow burn.   But it is a burn, and it will be felt in time.  And it is inexorable.  Simply put, Lodges today which have few (or no) members in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s will become historical relics in a decade or two.   And then, with no change, they will find it impossible to fill their vacant chairs.   After all, it will be the rare thirty-year-old man or woman who wants to join a Lodge where the membership is only composed of folks in their 70’s and 80’s.  The gap of interests at that point is just too great – it will have become a chasm.

What is the solution to this inevitable quandary?    The answer should be apparent to the lucid.   The Lodge needs to focus on bringing in younger members.  Look around at your current Lodge Brothers and Sisters.   If virtually everyone in the Lodge is in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, then the Lodge is standing on a generational precipice overlooking the valley of calamity.  The Lodge has skipped over generations.  The problem will be delayed (but certainly not solved) by bringing in more new members in their 60’s 70’s and 80’s.    It will only be solved by bringing in new members in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

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