By: Jon Patrick Sage
I have read and heard much over the years of the speech that a good Mason must hone and perfect– his “Elevator Speech”, which should effectively convey the good qualities of Freemasonry in 30 seconds or less, and supposedly convince any worthy candidate to join our Gentle Craft. I’ll quote no Brother in particular, but will instead glean many small portions of such speeches that I have heard given: usually in a rapid fire cadence that most Brethren reserve for the Middle Chamber or possibly “Letter G” lectures…
Of course, I have spread much sarcasm over that last sentence, although it is certainly true that some of our most important wordings are so carefully memorized that they are given with little or no emotion, and as such, are heard by a candidate or, in the case of the elevator speech, a “potential” candidate, as useless drivel, rolling off the tongue and just as soon forgotten.
Many like to claim that Freemasonry is “The World’s Oldest Fraternity”, and really… who cares? Old is not always better, especially in today’s climate of trying to outdo the Jones’s in re-making and re-shaping the Fraternity into an ultra-modern and attractive version of the best thing going. I am fearful that in our attempts at renewal, for the sake of new membership, we are perhaps losing the finest qualities of the Institution. Namely- it is NOT for everyone and his brother- some candidates are NOT worthy or well-qualified, and most who are asked to join, should NOT be asked to join.
In pursuit of more members, the old “Ask One To Be One” campaign has now (in my Jurisdiction), been effectively eliminated for nearly 4 years, and has been replaced with Brothers openly asking and pleading with friends to join. Has this worked? Do we have outstanding new numbers in membership? I don’t see this to be the case.
What I DO See…
I absolutely see more postings of the dubious “Outdoor Degrees”, golf outings, and the nearly always present “One Day Classes”. However, I don’t notice many of these new members dressed in Sunday best, delivering the verbage given us in our now out-of-date Monitors and Ritual. I fail to see Brethren in great numbers, giving a dearly departed Brother his Masonic Memorial Service (which is AS important as the EA, FC, and the almighty MM degrees that the Brother received in life)…
With these degrees in mind, I don’t see a great many Brethren attending and providing the Work in the several Lodges. I don’t see Brethren outside of the Lodge, in the workplace, going over Ritual together or to themselves on lunch breaks… I see far too little of the Man, the Mason with the exalted Square & Compass ring on his fourth finger– doing Works in the community… for not only his Masonic Brethren, but for ALL of his worldly brothers and sisters. The ring, the lapel pins, all of these can be noticed– in fair actions, as well as in unfair actions.
These actions, many listed prior, are The Testament which used to provide a reason for a man to Ask One To Be One! This- not the many men coming home after WW II and before, was the reason for membership. The fact that we now have football on TV, and internet Wi-Fi available at every turn, with activities available 24 hours a day, is NOT the reason our membership has fallen. Our membership has fallen- because we have become a Fraternity with little to display (very little worthwhile things to display), as tokens and examples by which a candidate might be attracted and want to join!
One very important part of any elevator speech is that “Masonry is not a Religion”, and this is supposed to, in some way I would imagine, set the man being spoken to at ease. … And yet, at its core, Freemasonry should offer the Craft a truly religious experience! How else can we transform lives? How else can this Organization of ours claim to “Make Good Men Better”… How do we do this? By having supper together and wearing Aprons while in Lodge assembled?
The only way such transformation is possible, is through a serious soul searching by the Candidate and Brethren, and then only through a real and lasting change at his molecular level… in other words–in that Brother’s SOUL! This, my friends, the true and lasting Masonic experience IS necessarily religious (albeit a non-sectarian) experience, and we should learn to embrace that aspect of Freemasonry, or get out of the way!
If a man merely wants a place to support fish fry’s and/or to serve pancakes to 20 people one Saturday per month, then perhaps the Rotary Club might be a better choice for him. However, if he wants to truly set himself apart from the hum-drum of everyday life, and along the way, find a better pathway and a lifetime Illuminated, let him FIND Masonry. This must be the case. These are the candidates we want! And they… THEY must find Masonry… Masonry cannot find and lure them– except, except by the deeds and actions, the Light displayed by the members of the Fraternity!
Lives and Actions- The Ultimate Elevator Speech
When someone notices your ring, or a lapel pin, or if Freemasonry comes up in conversation, simply explain to that man, in ways which cannot possibly be explained in 30 seconds or less, that the Free Masonic experience has changed you throughout, and has made you a BETTER MAN! Invite the other man to join you at Lodge for a supper- have a business card or address and phone number at the ready, give it to him, shake his hand, and leave it at that…
If that man is the right candidate, he will then seek you and your Lodge out- and WILL Petition. That, my friends– YOUR Lives and YOUR Actions– is the only “Elevator Speech” that will ever attract a Worthy and Well Qualified Petitioner.
In this case, FORGET the neatly memorized “30 seconds or less” piece, toss it in the garbage can, and simply bring along yourself, a brilliant display of the Virtues of Freemasonry, and the best advertisement this Fraternity could every ask for!
Jon Patrick Sage is a Freelance Writer for several publications/ publishers, and publishing houses, Author at www.morelightinmasonry.com & www.jonpatricksage.com ; Past Master of Jackson Lodge 146 f & A.M. in Seymour, IN; & a Senior Ritualist under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Indiana of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana. Jon has earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Minored in Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University. Jon is now in Graduate Studies of History, at The Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN. Jon is married, and lives with his wife (Kimberly), children (Ashley, Leah, and Caleb), and grand daughter (Maleigh Grace) in Southern, IN.