After two centuries, we are at a cross roads. If we remain on our current path then we will surely fade away. This past year has shown us a clear indication of what we are doing wrong and what we can do to learn and grow from it.
We will succeed only if we take the necessary steps to make the change. Are you willing to do what it takes?
I had a vision of what the future could look like for the Order. It would involve a lot of soul searching on everyone’s part. But it will make us a stronger and better organization. This is just my personal dream for the future of the Odd Fellows. I would love to hear about what you, dear reader, dream of for our future. I will make a post about what feedback you send.
How do we get the younger dedicated members we need to ensure the legacy of Odd Fellowship? By making it something worth being a part of in the 21st century.
Aside from charitable works and fun socializing….Empowerment, authentic experiences, philosophical wisdom, and learning valuable life skills are the keys to attracting and maintaining new quality members.
We need to redefine what it means to be an “Odd Fellow” today. Many of the new generation of members come from marginalized societal groups, the “odd ones out” if you will, that are seeking empowerment for themselves and their communities. There will be no room for bigotry or discrimination in the future of our Order. The types of members we aren’t actively recruiting are the ones we need the most.
Imagine, if you will, the trope of the “ragtag bunch of misfits.” A diverse group that comes together through a set of extraordinary circumstances and have to learn to put aside their prejudices and preconceived notions of each other as they learn to work as a team against a common struggle or toward a common goal.
Along the way, each member learns they have their own special ability to offer the group and no one gets left behind if they need help. Maybe there is a wise master to help guide their path and impart special wisdom when they are ready to have it. They are stronger as a team than if they were trying to go it alone. Eventually, after many struggles and setbacks they persevere and save the day. Who wouldn’t want to be in that movie? Each Odd Fellow lodge is that team. But it only works if everyone is treated as a valuable member.
Young people are desperate for meaningful and authentic real life interactions that aren’t available on the internet. They need a cause to give meaning and value to their life. They need mentoring to give them life skills to become confident, competent, and passionate leaders. They want a guide to live life by that isn’t necessarily found in the church. Where they can have a voice instead of simply being told what to do, to have a “seat at the table” so to speak. So many feel powerless in their daily lives, from dead end jobs and corporate slavery to societal expectations and financial limitations, people are craving empowerment over their chaotic lives. Odd Fellows can do all that and more. We just have to look inward to see the built in value that we have to offer our members that is currently being ignored.
Some who join are seeking to reveal the deeper mystery and wisdom that our symbols and degrees offer as a philosophical outlook on life. There is so much to be learned from our Initiation and Degrees about what to value in life and how to be a better individual that is easy to miss when receiving them. Group discussions on the esoteric symbolic lessons could help guide the members to think about the deeper meanings to Friendship, Love, and Truth.
Others are learning valuable social skills by taking part in meetings and socializing with other members to improve their skills. Social Anxiety and Loneliness are major issues faced by society today and having a safe space where they don’t have to worry about being bullied is crucial to being able to step out into the world and build healthy relationships and be a successful member of society.
All while learning valuable skills as members of a nonprofit charity organization on how to run meetings, take leadership roles, organize events, handle money, take notes, file paperwork, voice opinions, and come to agreements. These are highly sought after abilities and experience not taught in school that can potentially help the member get a better job if needed, while bettering ourselves and our communities. On some level, everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves and make a contribution toward a larger legacy.
Many Lodges are already marketing themselves like this and having great success with it. But a struggling Lodge can’t simply offer all these things and not actually embody them when push comes to shove or it will fail to keep the new member interested.