I wrote before about the difference between lodges and temples. To review, the lodge is not the building. It is the group of members. Okay. Glad we got that behind us and we are on the same page now.
All the same, the temple matters, as does its appearance. I was thinking of this recently when President Obama commented on the health reform website by saying that the plan was not broken just because the website was. Note: This is not political commentary. I am not commenting on the plan itself and do not care for most people’s opinions at this point on either side of the discussion. However, to say that a plan like this can be cleanly separated from how it is accessed, and have the two dimensions evaluated separately, is crazy. “Sure, the website doesn’t work and few people can sign up, but that does not reflect on the plan itself.” I call shenanigans.
How does this apply to Masonry? We need to make our temples look inviting. To us, the group of members is what is important, but the facade is how the public sees us. If the public’s main knowledge of us is from a seedy looking building with a messy parking lot, we cannot expect to get a lot of new members.
One of the things I like to do when I travel around is visit lodges, whether for an actual meeting or just to see the building, if nothing else. It is especially fun to meet new friends and talk about how we do things differently in various grand jurisdictions. Of course, finding someone at a building is rare, so I just go to look out of curiosity and sometimes take a photo or two of the outside. I am a photographer; it is just my bent to do things like this.
What has surprised me in my travels is that many lodge buildings are not kept up well. I am only half surprised by this though. Consider that the buildings might get two or three days of use per month and mostly in the evening. Half the year they are only visited in the dark. However, even though the members might not see the buildings during the day, the neighbors and surrounding community do. See the image above. That is a Masonic temple I found in the Toronto area a few years back. The general disregard for appearance, demonstrated by graffiti on the doors, makes it an unappealing place to visit. I would guess this sort of thing will keep potential members away.
We all have membership issues. Even the healthiest of lodges still needs to attract new members. One thing we can do is make our lodges more welcoming for people to approach. We cannot recruit. We have to wait for someone to knock at the door before we can open it to him. Let’s make it easier for potential candidates to approach that door, literally and figuratively.