Our Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has been diminishing for decades. Membership numbers have dropped. Lodges have lost their charters or consolidated. The pandemic hasn’t helped.

How can you tell if your Odd Fellows Lodge is healthy or if it is in trouble?

Will it survive into the next generation?

Will it even survive the next five years?

There are certainly warning signposts that can help you answer these questions. Here is a little self-test you can take to determine the temperature of your Odd Fellows Lodge. But the test only works if you are brutally honest with your answers. No one is “grading” this test except you.

So here are 13 questions to help you determine the fraternal health of your Odd Fellows Lodge:

  1. Does your Lodge have less than 20 regular dues-paying members on your books? (Please do not count associate members or non-contributing members.)
  2. When you have a Lodge meeting, is the agenda item that takes the most time “members sick and in distress”?
  3. Is the average age of your regular dues-paying members over 70?
  4. Is the average age of your regular dues-paying members under 65?
  5. Looking at the last three years, has your Lodge initiated new members equal to 10% of your membership during that three-year period?
  6. Looking at the last year, has your Lodge initiated at least one new member?
  7. Does your Lodge sponsor at least one event a year for the benefit of the community?
  8. Does your Lodge have difficulty finding members to serve in the elected officer positions?
  9. Did your Lodge have to cancel a meeting over the last year due to lack of quorum?
  10. In addition to your regular Lodge meetings, does your Lodge schedule at least four social events each year for the members?
  11. Are there members of your Lodge who are so angry or upset with other members of the Lodge that they won’t talk to them?
  12. Does your Lodge have updated ritual books (red books) for all members who attend meetings?
  13. Does your Lodge have regalia (collars, chains or rope) for all members who attend meetings?

And here are the answers that show your Lodge has a problem:

  1. yes
  2. no
  3. yes
  4. no
  5. no
  6. no
  7. no
  8. yes
  9. yes
  10. no
  11. yes
  12. no
  13. no

If you tallied six or more of these answers then your Odd Fellows Lodge should raise the yellow caution flag. If you tallied seven or more of these answers, then the red danger flag needs to be raised. If you tallied eight or more of these answers then your Lodge is a mere Potemkin Village masquerading as a Lodge of Odd Fellows. If you tallied nine or more of these answers, then I am sorry to say that your Lodge is what I call a “Zombie Lodge”, going through the motions of existence, but already deceased. Your days as a Lodge are, sadly, numbered.

F – L – T

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

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