By Right Worshipful Brother Dennis Tuttle, Jr., District Deputy Grand Master, District 5
When I was asked “How do you get people engaged?”, so many topics came to mind. In January, I attended the Masonic Family Leadership Conference in Portsmouth. One of the speakers discussed the difference between recruiting people and attracting people. He wasn’t talking about this in terms of Masonic Legality, but in terms of their specific definitions.
○ persuade (someone) to do or assist in doing something.
○ cause to come to a place or participate in a venture by offering something of interest, favorable conditions, or opportunities.
His presentation spoke directly to the Grand Master’s Motto: “Be there because you want to be there, not because you have to”. When the Grand Master announced his Motto in the Spring of 2019, the District 5 officers got together and discussed how we were going to attract members to our events. We didn’t use these specific terms because we hadn’t yet considered this concept.
In Dover, Moses Paul Lodge had been holding a monthly event called the “Dine Around”. They invited Brethren, their families, and their friends to dinner once a month at various restaurants in their area. They had a decent turnout, usually between six and twelve people. I was one of the attendees, it was fun when I went, but it wasn’t high on my priorities list. The District officers wanted to expand this wonderful event and make it more interesting and bigger! But how do you do that?
First, let’s invite the whole District. We invited Brethren from the other Lodges in the District. We explained that they should invite their Entered Apprentices, Fellowcrafts, and any potential Masons. Invite your spouse, your family, and your friends. Couples like to go out to dinner together. This could double your attendees if every couple brought one other couple. Then we encouraged the Lodges to take turns hosting the dinner in their area. With Worshipful Pond’s blessing, we took their Dine Around event to the next level.
Who else could we invite? What if we invite ALL the Masonic bodies that meet in the District 5 area? To be in most of the fraternal bodies you need to be a Mason and male members of the Order of the Eastern Star must be Masons, but the female members do not. It is a common misconception that they are all just the wives of Masons. Eastern Star was created for the wives, daughters, mothers, widows, and sisters of Master Masons. Remember, these are family dinners, so why not invite your Special Ladies and other members of the Masonic families including the Rainbow Girls and DeMolay boys. What better way to get to know these families than to invite them to dinner? Be inclusive not exclusive.
Another key point of these events is to NOT talk about Masonry. This is not a recruiting event. This is for our friends to have fun. We have had many people come up to us at our Dine Around events and ask who we were and why we were there. We have had many of them join us in our revelry and then later turned in a petition for one Masonic Family or another. The growth of any of our Masonic Families is a positive event for all the Masonic Families. If one female joins Eastern Star or one male joins Freemasonry, or one child joins DeMolay or Rainbow, then that brings in many new possibilities.
Have you ever logged onto Facebook and saw that an event happened last night and wished you had been there? This brings up two points you must consider when attracting people. First, if you see someone else having fun, it makes you want to go. So, post pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever other source of social media. Second, use all these tools to let people know in advance, about the next event. Let them know early so it gets on their calendar and let them know often, so they don’t forget or miss the information.
Lastly, make everyone feel welcome! We are a family. Everyone came out to have fun with you, so thank them and talk to them. Encourage people to make new friends by suggesting that they not sit with their usual friends. Remember, we conciliate true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. Show everyone you are grateful that they came and make a new friend.
Just before we were all quarantined, District 5 and District 2 held a joint dining event. We had well over 70 people in attendance from ALL the Masonic Families of New Hampshire. We did not have to persuade anyone to attend. We just announced that we would be holding this fun event and people wanted to be there. This was high on their priority list. Create an event, advertise it, make it welcoming, and it will be high on everyone’s priority list.