Freemasonry: A Spectator’s Sport

Why exactly don’t people stay in our lodges?

It’s actually a simple answer. It’s boring. And, being bored, members do not perceive the lodge’s value. Now, I am part of a lodge that has quite a few active members and even more active line officers. But that is because we, “play the game.”

But what exactly does that mean?

If we look at sports as an analogy for our current situation, we can see very easily what the situation and problem is. Our country loves their sports. And I don’t mean our country as in the 20 people that happen to be on the field at a time, I mean the millions that sit and watch. Because, for all intents and purposes, sports are a spectator sport. We’re not expected to actively play; we’re expected to sit and watch.

People did not leave the comfort of their houses to go out to a lodge and become Master Masons only so they can sit on the sidelines and watch. They could have stayed home and done that with sports that were much more interesting. Our officers are the players that enjoy the activity. Everyone else is a spectator. We make them builders and give them nothing to build.

For those of you who have a trade under your belt, you know you don’t want to sit around and wait for a job to ply your trade, you want to go out and work.

So what is the solution? We need to build something . That’s the end all be all of it. While officers build new Masons, the new Masons must also be taught how and what to build.

What do we build then?

We have many options. We can build our lodges by repairing old ones and creating new buildings. We can build our appendant bodies by upkeeping their buildings as well as running programs and fundraisers to help their causes.

But these two are still limited because a Master Mason cannot build, they can only act as an Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft during this work, that, in the end, would be directed by the Worshipful Master and the Line Officers.

What else is there to build? Our communities. I have been contemplating this idea for almost a year now, the idea of being a builder of the community. In May, 2015, my grandfather passed away. At that time, I found out that in 2007 he was awarded the Community Builder honor in my hometown. I had to look it up as I thought of this phrase near the beginning of this year and so the phrasing struck a chord with me. The honor is given to those who have made significant contributions to their community. I was taken with the coincidence of my grandfather receiving an honor that I had been contemplating creating.

So, how do we build the community? By creating organizations and groups. Do you have leftover food from your events? Deliver it to homeless camps. The organizations that exists will not take your food and pass it on, so you must do it yourselves.

Do you have adults who can’t read? Create an organization to teach them. But, you say, they already have a group to help adults with literacy. That’s great! Find where your community is lacking and build an organization to satisfy that.

You can also build buildings. I’m sure there are other groups out there that need homes. There are youth groups, senior groups, community groups, and many of them are looking for a home. And you can provide that. Or perhaps you want to help expand your local college or university.

Or you can build youth programs. We have Masonic youth groups that have mixed backing. I’ve personally helped our local chapter of DeMolay start and they have an incredible amount of backing. As well, our Rainbow Girls assembly, while fledgling, is also growing!

But what exactly is a group? It just a flock of people who gather for similar interests. But, the youth groups need help with special interest programs. Would your youth organization be served by having more special interest programs?

What about a science and technology program? What about a literature program? They need help building these programs. Would they not be much more interesting to prospects if your group offered these programs?

But they can’t have special interest groups without people willing to back them and help run them. We are not limited masonic youth organizations. What if we create programs outside, such as science and technology
competitions where scholarships are awarded? Or a “Community Builder of the Future,” competition? Every external program that we create is branding for our masonic youth organizations. It’s free advertisement.
In the end it’s simply a matter of work. Our organization will continue to see numbers falter as long as we hang a sign that says, “Seeking builders, no work at this time,” on the outside of our lodge. As long as Freemasonry remains a spectator sport, numbers will dwindle. To solve this, we need the coaches and team leaders to come out and direct the work of new and weathered members of our lodge. It’s only through building that we can be builders. It’s only through the act of masonry that we can be Masons.

Brother John Tsangaris, 32°