"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Why Gen-Z Probably Isn't Interested in Freemasonry and Why We Need To Care

by Christopher Hodapp

Brother Darin Lahners over at the Midnight Freemason blog has written an important essay this week that was inspired by the meme above. I had been working on my own essay along similar lines all week, but Darin has done a far better job than I was doing. Entitled, Why can't we convince Gen-Z to join Freemasonry? You won't like the answer, I strongly urge all Masons — whether they are lodge officers, grand lodge leaders, or simply rank and file brethren — to read it all the way through, and ponder the points he makes.

And to head off any immediate political objection some readers might have upon reading his first couple of paragraphs, control your passions and read the whole piece. Darin isn't advocating a political viewpoint - just the opposite, which is the whole point of the essay.

My only minor rejoinder to his essay is that Gen-Z is not currently the most likely generation to have a strong interest in joining ANY voluntary, associative organization that encourages regular participation. Not at this moment, anyhow. About 20 years ago, the majority of grand lodges in the US required petitioners to be 21 years (and historically, many grand lodges worldwide required them to be 25 or 26 in the 1700 and 1800s). There was a wave of popularity in grand lodges in about 1999 or 2000 to drop the petitioning age to 18, and they really believed that would halt the decline in membership, that hordes of eager 18 year olds would line up to join the fraternity. 

Never happened. And it still doesn't happen. Grand lodge statistics pretty uniformly show that men who join below their 30s don't remain members very long, and certainly don't remain active if they keep paying dues. Life's too chaotic for people in the 20s - relationships change, jobs and career paths change, and more people move from city to city and state to ate than ever before. 

So, historically, the average age of petitioners to fraternal groups (college fraternities aside) has always been between about 35 to 48. Sure, there have been periods when this rose and fell, but 39-40 has always been the sweet spot for new members in Masonry. It's when men are most settled into a career and a spousal/partner arrangement, less likely to be having more (or any) children, and are at the peak of their earning power and disposable income.

So right at this snapshot in history, it's the Gen-X and Millennials who are knocking on lodge doors, which means we've got about a dozen years before the Gen-Zers get to the outer atmosphere of "middle age." But Darin's points are still well-taken.

(The meme above was circulated on Facebook last week and is a photo of Texas Past Grand Master Brad Billings, who has been under a non-stop barrage of attacks ever since January over his leadership style in 2022.)


  1. If only Br Billings were getting royalties off that meme

    1. Perhaps he could use it as a photo to put on a whiskey bottle and sell it as a fundraiser.


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