​Before our beloved members go blind with rage over reading the word “DECLINING” this is the reality that the DMC has been trying to wake them up to for over a decade.

Unless the majority of the members step up and put forth a serious effort of valuing its fellow members and cultivating prospective members, the Odd Fellows will not grow.

The Odd Fellows will not grow when it is in an accusatory state of mind and has involuntarily accepted a state of critical mass. This means the membership has not made itself aware that its “internal issues” – from trials to non-attendance to little interests – are traits of a dying organization, where there are not enough active members to carry the load.

The members who are active are overworked and lash out at anyone who does not appear to be doing his or her share, even if this segment of membership lacks the capability (physically or developmentally) but yet comes up with brilliant ideas. Yes, even those members who do not appear to be doing their load of the work, do come up with wonderful ideas.

That is one explanation for the “DECLINING.” The fact the Odd Fellows are declining as a whole is not disputable. We are declining and people have worked hard in an attempt to slow this down. They have come up with great ideas – ideas that have been proven to work in other organizations, but the lodges either cannot produce the energy to accomplish the idea or bother to HEAR what is being suggested. The lack of listening to the ideas of newer
members or that segment of membership that cannot physically step up, but offers the only thing he or she has to offer, is the fault of those who do have the ability but fail to embrace “someone else’s” idea.

How do WE correct this and reach some level of success within our Order, our lodges? We actively listen to any ideas presented at our next meeting! Simple. A simple answer. If you are a hard working members and everything you do is “right” and you know better than anyone else in the lodge, etc., then shut up for once and listen to what that member sitting on the sidelines has to say. Then, act on those ideas and suggestions.

Now for the quiet successes: The quiet successes are those events that lodges do to entertain their members. It is those events that members eagerly attend. It is those newsletters they enjoy reading. Those social gatherings around a meal at a table interacting with each other tend to be successful as well.

Believe it or not, a lodge’s success today could be just having a member in each office of the lodge, including a flag bearer and a musician and an outside guardian. If a lodge has those seats filled, that is an indicator of a lodge that is probably doing more than other lodges.

Having even one event is a success! Having one event in a lodge or having ten events in a lodge is great, however, it does not mean a thing or improve the situation at another lodge that does not have even one event. All of those events do not mean a thing unless it is shared. This mean either sharing by writing about the event, or inviting other lodges to the event, or helping another lodge start an event. Otherwise, this is only a QUIET SUCCESS for your lodge.

In order for our lodges and our membership to grow so we can stop this decline, we must embrace those smaller lodges and share our ideas. We must embrace their members and invite them to our events. We see lodges flourishing, but most are not. At the same time, these flourishing lodges with their mighty ideas and event after event, fail to see they are falling short by not helping the smaller inactive lodge with their own event(s).

Perhaps that member of the smaller lodge who would like to see his or her idea take off, lacks the means to get it started, could approach the larger successful lodge or vice-versa. Someone must reach out to the other. If we do not reach out, sooner or later one lodge will cease to exist.

Have you ever heard a member speaking badly of another member? Have you ever witnessed a member who assumes a presiding chair and that member only does everything his or her way – can do “no wrong”? Have you ever seen a treasurer insist on not writing a check that the lodge has approved? – Or, “We cannot spend funds of the lodge like that? Have you ever heard someone say “that’s against the code”? Those are unfounded statements and uniformed members, which need to stop killing this Order.

Now is the time to have your ideas heard.

Peter Sellars
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Jurisdiction of California

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