Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
I am pleased to submit to you an article written by one of the founders of DMC Rick Boyles, Past Grand Master of this jurisdiction. Rick always presents a thought-provoking submission.
Also, attached to this newsletter is a flier announcing our DMC event at Grand Lodge Sessions. We will hold our annual event OPEN TO ALL on Thursday, May 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Sierra Nevada Ballroom of the Grand Lodge hotel – the Visalia Marriott. It will feature live music, an all-you-can-eat Taco Bar, a no-host bar, and some brief welcoming comments from leaders of our Order. This “Friendship Evening” promises to be a fun and relaxing evening for all. We cordially invite all Grand Lodge and Rebekah Assembly representatives, and their guests, to attend. The cost is a remarkably low $15 per person if you RSVP and pay by May 8 (we are able to keep the cost so low because a number of Lodges and members sponsor and subsidize this event – we will list the names of those generous Lodges and members in future newsletters). If you don’t RSVP and pay by May 8, you may still attend the event on May 18 and pay at the door, but the cost at the door is $35 per person – representing the actual per person cost of the event. Obviously, advance reservation will save you money! Please clip the bottom portion of the flier and mail it in with your check(s) to reserve your spot at the “Friendship Evening.”
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Tote that barge, lift that bale …
Many times I have heard the notion that we must do more work, perform extensive chores, carry additional loads, and become in essence beasts of burden for our order. Nothing to me seems to be of a greater absurdity. A great percentage of our members are already at their breaking point. The idea that we should ask ever-increasing effort from them borders on the insane. Yet there are some among us who measure a member’s worth based solely upon the number of order-related duties they put in. This must not be the basis upon which we judge a member. All members have value and to place a gauge on them purely based upon physical effort only succeeds in belittling the order itself and really by its own definition generates a lessening of our membership base. I have spoken to many of our members who have left our order simply because they don’t have the energy or time to serve the order in this manner.
A joke in my family is that if a warning light is glowing in one of our cars, we simply turn the radio up! This is similar to the way I see the order. Rather than thinking of basic change within our order, we are lulled into a false sense of security when those of us who attend regular order-related events see 100 people in attendance, but in actuality, that has become an ever-diminishing amount. Receptions 50 years ago had hundreds of people in attendance. Then, those of us who aspire to bigger positions within our order seem to imply that the few of us still willing to attend events work even harder to build membership. I wonder if we really ever grasp the incongruity of this demand. If our membership is decreasing, it’s difficult to see how a new membership by brute force plan will increase membership by comparison. I often see members forcing applications into visitor’s hands and rarely do these people join. Why? Simply put, the visitors will join if they see something of value to joining. They will not join because we plead with them to join. Some of our members are absolute dynamos – but all of us are unique, and many are too busy in their normal lives to take on additional responsibility. Rather than forcing responsibility on a harried new or prospective member, see what they would like to do, and then you may be pleasantly surprised.
There clearly are ways to get new members, but telling each prospective member that you expect them to lead a charity drive, head up a committee within your lodge, or to walk around pleading with others to join is short-sighted at best. Most people with jobs simply don’t have the time needed to solidify your lodge. You can find people willing to do charity work, but it should not be a requirement for membership. And yet, I have heard prominent members say that they feel the secret to membership is to encourage people to do charity work. While this may seem admirable, it is rather ludicrous to assume that in today’s world, the normal person, working 40 hours a week, in their few free hours is willing to work tirelessly to wave the Odd Fellow flag. We do have many members who put in countless hours without complaint, who march in parades, or visit the homeless, or help with the aged, and this is clearly admirable, but also time-consuming, and not always transferable. So, before we who put in extra hours demand new people emulate our endeavors, we need to look at the new and prospective members and see what they view as necessary to make them happy. I find that if we ask the new member what they themselves seek in joining our order, we may be happily surprised why they want to join. But charity by force will not work. In fact, force itself is meaningless, and just makes us look like bullies. If we want new members to contribute, we need to encourage them to show us what they want themselves. Some lodges have many committees and different charitable goals, but the successful ones lead by example, not by force. I have faith in the individual. Forcing new members to walk in lockstep will do nothing more than force them to abandon the march.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Rick Boyles