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BROTHER AND FRIEND FELLOWSHIP NIGHT
In an effort to provide a means of acquiring new members for lodges, a group of concerned Masons, including members of the Grand Lodge Education and Renewal Committees, and the MRT (Masonic Resource Team) of District # 4, have researched and designed a Fellowship Night. This event, if run with enthusiasm and energy, should yield candidates at a heretofore unheard of rate.
The basic concept is simple. The Lodge will host an information night. by formal invitation only. A Lodge member will present his " friend " with an invitation and will be that person's host and contact for the remainder of the event. The evening itself will include a tour of the Lodge, speakers on Masonic topics, a question and answer period and socializing over a dinner or a coffee and tea session. Each guest will be provided with information to take home and browse through. Each Masonic host will follow-up the night's events with a phone call to his "friend" within seven days.
The committee studying this event has identified nine segments to the plan that need to be addressed and worked on if the night is to be a success. This report will now deal with each segment separately. What is said here is a basic outline that each individual lodge may wish to modify or add to. The Lodges however are urged during their modifications not to eliminate any of the basic nine segments.
The invitation should make a statement about the Lodge. It should be attractive and well laid out so that the information it contains can be easily read and understood. At a minimum the following information items should be included:
A Mason should give this invitation to a person he knows well enough to consider that person a good prospect for becoming a Mason. The invitation should be delivered personally, hand to hand, and it should be made clear, if the invitation doesn't specifically state it, that it is for him and his wife.
The delivery of this invitation by a Mason obligates that Mason to see this through to the end. That means he gets his guests there, he attends on them while they are there, he gets them home safely and he follows up within seven days.
If a Lodge does not have the ability to buy or produce a good invitation, anyone skilled with a computer can design and produce one (in color) for a cost of approximately $5.00 for thirty copies. Depending on Lodge size, it may be wise to limit the number of invitations to twenty or so, remember that each invitation covers four people (inviter and spouse, invitee and spouse). Twenty invitations equals eighty people plus ten or so organizers and speakers.
The actual menu for the evening is best left to the individual Lodge to work out. Large Lodges with ample space in their club rooms may wish to put on a complete supper, while others may wish to do something as simple as cocktail sandwiches and sweets with coffee and tea. The concept here is not to impress them with our cooking prowess but to put them in a relaxed social atmosphere. Most people truly enjoy a meal or a snack and are receptive to conversation and/or speakers following that meal. This is a mental state of mind we are trying to foster here, relaxed and receptive.
It is suggested that the dress code for Fellowship Night be casual. Again we are trying for a relaxed atmosphere where our guests are receptive to what we are doing. The speakers and the Director of Ceremonies may wish to dress in formal wear and the other organizers with specific speaking roles during the tour may wish to wear dark suits but the guests should be as comfortable as possible.
It is suggested that the lodge obtain sheets of the clothing stickers that say "Hi. My name is…" The Mason's attending, and their wives, should also wear name stickers but with the addition that on their name tag a prominent square and compasses should also be displayed. This will identify them to the guests as individuals who can be asked questions.
If the event is run in the wintertime, a nice addition might be to have two or three Masons hanging up coats. It doesn't hurt to pamper the ladies in particular.
For the average Lodge the best time to run one of these events is on the weekend, normally a Saturday evening. This tends not to conflict with normal meeting nights and most people are nine to five, five day a week workers.
The hours of the event are flexible but it is suggested that everything be completed by approximately nine o'clock. If you are having a supper you may wish to begin at six o'clock, whereas , a design based on a snack may comfortably begin at seven or seven thirty.
The only other time concern is the time of the year. An event held in March or April will yield candidates for the fall sessions and an event run in October will yield candidates for the spring sessions. You can actually exercise a small amount of control over when you wish to be busiest.
The designers of this event, after consideration of all the material at their disposal, and careful thought about the limits of a person's attention span recommend that the Lodge use four speakers on four distinct topics and that each speaker be limited to five to seven minutes. It is also recommended that the speakers be separated from each other by something completely different, such as drawing for a door prize or a musical selection. This break concept allows the listeners to relax, drop their attention levels (or switch them radically) and therefore rest between speakers. It means that each speaker has a fresh audience and our chances of information transfer are enhanced.
The topics, which follow, as well as their proposed content, were gleaned from different sources and cover the majority of items from those sources. Rather than actually write the speeches, which someone might then be tempted to stand up and read, we have simply set the topics and points, allowing the Lodge to select their own speakers and allowing the speaker to write his own speech covering the topic. The topics are as follows:
1) Who Are the Masons?
2) Misconceptions of Freemasonry
3) What Do Mason's Do?
4) How Does A Man Become a Mason?
It is suggested that a tour of the Lodge facilities be given to all invited guests. There are two reasons for this segment. First, lodges always have memorabilia hanging from their walls, which are curious and interesting. These things give the visitor a sense of history and of the permanency of the Lodge. Secondly, by making the tour complete, we go a long way to dispelling the idea of the "secret society". A knowledgeable Mason, with a good speaking voice and an unflappable disposition should direct the tour. The tour should cover the whole Lodge spending time at each room, particularly the Lodge room where you may consider laying out each officers apron and collar. Do not worry about losing your audience since every step they take reveals something new. They are receiving two stimuli, auditory from you and visually by what they see. The combination will keep their attention quite nicely.
During the tour there should be artificial stops incorporated at tables prepared beforehand and manned by Masons who can describe what is on the table and answer questions about it. Some suggestions for themes for these tables are:
QUESTION AND ANSWER
This should be conducted on two levels. The first level should be coordinated by the Director of Ceremonies and may be termed the formal session. This would occur following each speaker or collectively following the last speaker. The guests would be invited to ask questions to the organizers, which would be answered for the benefit of all. The success of this session hinges on keeping the guests relaxed enough to stand up and ask and will last until they run out of questions.
The second may be termed the informal session. This occurs primarily near the end of the evening when everyone is having final coffee or tea and are having conversation. This is where the Masons and their wives should be clearly marked (remember the "Hi, My Name is…" with the Square and Compasses). The wives of Masons are included here because there are some questions our female guests are going to feel more comfortable asking another woman. The Director of Ceremonies may encourage this session by informing the guests that they can pose their questions to their personal host and if he cannot answer, he will find someone who can.
This is again important to dispel that old "Secret Society" title that seems to hang on us all the time. Nothing stops rumors like the truth.
As a final idea you could leave a question box near the door for any questions the guests were too embarrassed to ask out loud. If they don't leave their name you can always incorporate the answer in the next Fellowship Night you run. Either way it will give you a feel for how people are thinking.
INFORMATION TO TAKE HOME
The reason behind this segment is simply to expand on what we have begun. Hopefully our tour, speakers and open attitudes have sparked a note of interest in our guests. The brochures, of which we have a large variety, simply fill in the holes. It allows our guest to read and think about Freemasonry in the comfort of his own home.
Many of the brochures can be obtained at low or no cost from Masonic Renewal sources, the Masonic Service Association and the Grand Secretary's office. An application for membership can be placed in the envelope as well. Although some will immediately jump on this idea and call it solicitation, we are making no promises and offering no inducements. Information and an application form are a convenience, not an inducement. We are not asking him to join, we are providing information and should he desire, the tools, to join.
It is advisable to put these brochures and forms in a convenient package for transport home. A folder with pockets or an envelope will suffice. It will work best if the package will fit in a man's suit coat pocket or a lady's purse. Larger packages tend to get left behind.
This is the critical step and is absolutely necessary for the success of this program. Some men will respond to your evening and might fill out an application immediately. Most will want to return home and talk to their spouse. They will want to read a little more and mull the whole idea over in their minds for a few days.
Left too long, other things will take precedence and they will forget about it. Approached too soon, they will feel pushed and brace their feet. Five to seven days after the event seems the best time for refreshed contact. Ask if he has reviewed the information. Ask if he has any questions that he would like to have answered. By this time he should be asking you to sponsor him or asking you to leave him alone. If the former, the normal procedure for new petitions follows. If the latter, this is the last contact on the subject. If he doesn't want membership now, he at least has the information and knowledge if he ever decides he would like to join in the future.
This completes discussion of the nine segments. In other jurisdictions these nights have typically yielded 60 to 100% results. That is to say, of the twenty men you invite, you can expect twelve to twenty new masons. These results justify us at least trying this method and judging for ourselves.
Step by step process looks like this:
To repeat the opening lines, if run with enthusiasm and energy, this event can yield members at a very high rate. Should you decide to pursue this and you are successful (and I am sure you will be) remember that along with bringing them to the degree process you must take care of them and help them become active, productive Masons in their own right. Gaining ten members is only an asset if at least eight of them stick around and participate.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014