He identified these generations as the:
GI 1901-1926 quiet, patriotic, “can do” anything
Silent 1927-1945 conformists; have experienced success throughout lives
Boomer 1946-1964 forever young; lived through cultural revolutions
Gen X 1965-1981 latchkey kids skeptical, and cynical
Millennial 1992- most adult supervised; technology; family focused
Panel discussions were held with representatives from the last 4 groups. I feel the largest focus was on the last 3. Our current leadership is largely from the Boomer generation with the Gen X generation starting to take over. By and large, this is also our current membership.
Boomers were asked: “What brought you to AASR?” I found that to be very telling. I heard
Brotherhood, charity, and family ties.
Next, Gen X discussion and I heard that a strong emphasis for them was personal and less about community. Lodge is a place to be a brother among equals.
Finally, was a panel with Millennials. To me, millennials are our largest target group for BLUE Lodge, and less for AASR. More on that later.
Millennials are: focused on family (they are still making babies). Therefore: TIME poor.
They live online, and buy on line (this should include Freemasonry)
They learned community service at a young age and want to continue it.
Money is an issue because of current expenses.
My thoughts and takeaways from this:
First, there is an issue of FOCUS. What is our purpose in Membership Development? Are we there to find ways to help grow the Rite? Or are we there to assist in the growth of Blue Lodge and feed from that growth in the Rite?
Obviously without the Blue Lodge we have no Scottish Rite, so it is in the best interests of the Rite to help and assist in the development of Blue Lodge membership. I totally get that, and I am fully on board with developing Blue Lodge membership growth. Perhaps this should become more of a topic throughout ALL appendant bodies and a joint coordinated membership plan could be developed with Grand Lodge.
If you view our market in Scottish Right as being men from the Blue Lodges, it seems that the target audience may be slightly different. At what age do most men join Blue Lodge? At what age do they
join the Rite? How we target those groups is essential information that I found to be presented at this session. I would like to stimulate a discussion of this idea.
Since my focus as Deputy’s Representative is on developing our Valley’s membership, my thoughts are always from that point of view.
WHO is our target market? We draw from men who are already Freemasons and who are looking for something more, something to expand their Masonic journey. We know that the Scottish Rite is the perfect answer to that search, and we must find ways to get that information to prospective members. If we can’t project that idea, we will never be able to interest brother to join our ranks in the Rite.
What is our value proposition? What makes the AASR attractive enough to draw from Blue Lodge and in comparison to the York Rite and the Shrine? We didn’t explore that at this meeting, but I did hear some interesting thoughts from the generational panels that might lead to an answer to this highly important question.
First is our emphasis on brotherhood, and caring for our brothers. I heard multiple times discussion regarding this topic. One young man said something very revealing to me:
“Social networking isn’t real—THIS is real.” What he was saying is that while Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. dominiate life within the younger generations, Freemasonry can still fill a need. Brothers, we are the real thing, our networking is real, our brotherhood is real, and our philosophy is real. This is something we can promote!
Second is the importance of our ritual. Young men are SEARCHING for meaning in their lives. They WANT the secrets, the ritual, the magic and the dignity of our degrees. We must never de-emphisize our degree work. In fact, I thought that perhaps we made a mistake when we diluted the 32nd degree.
As we move into the meat of the 21st century, and our video degrees are a reality of AASR, we really need to discuss our system of delivery. Video degrees are wonderful and are great tools for all Valleys, but we must never move away from live degrees. Perhaps an emphasis on ONE or TWO outstanding live degrees is the thing? TIME is a huge issue with young men in the 21st Century. Long, time consuming events can easily be shortened without diluting the delivery. Let’s all look at ways to save time in our events.
The Six Valley meeting in January could be developed as a huge recruiting tool for young brothers. “Come and see six outstanding live performances” “Receive this special pin for attending” Maybe we could make it a competition between Valleys and have a traveling award with judging on awarding by a committee of Actives?
The Valley of Steubenville should also continue to look at the other pillar of Membership – Retention. In my mind, retention begins in the Stated Meeting. There has to be a reason for a man to join AASR, and there also needs to be a reason for him to want to go to a meeting. What makes a man want to drive 30 or 40 miles on a weeknight to attend AASR? There has to be something to draw him there.
We will always have our core of men who come because a call of duty…this especially applies to the GI and Silent generations. But what will draw the Boomers, the Gen X, and the Millennial generations? I think we have to continue to evolve and evaluate our system of delivery.
I will suggest the following:
First, let’s improve our opening ceremony for the Stated Meeting. We shouldn’t be haphazard with the ritual of the Rite. I want us to have the Orator become a part of this in that he will participate in the opening. I will demonstrate this at the September stated meeting.
Secondly, do Stated Meetings need to be a rehash of the Executive Committee meeting? The answer, I believe is no. If a man wants to know all that occurs at the Executive Committee meeting, then those meeting are open. Perhaps we could make minutes available? Let’s look at ways to cut down (or cut out) the entire summary sections. Have a few announcements about essential upcoming events only. I’m going to look at that and give a demonstration of another agenda for a Stated Meeting.
And finally, let’s emphasize a good program and have a good meal afterward. Again, I’ll try to model this. It is my desire that our meetings become an event that brothers look forward to attending each month!
Edsel F. Emery, 33°