One of the considerations we had in forming Churchill (and the new MacArthur Lodge) was that there would naturally be some jealousy and some push-back from lodges that fear loss of members to the new groups, or loss of recruitment opportunities.
Clearly, a man cannot be in two places at once. Time spent with a new lodge is time away from the home lodge.
But I think this is 'good stress.'
Any gardener will tell you, the stress of pruning helps plants to grow. The stress of occasional dry periods forces deeper roots. The analogy is an apt one for Masonic Lodges:
Lodges have on average 20-25 positions of leadership or vigorous committeework. A full roster of workers beyond these positions is difficult to maintain, because the work is sporadic, or because our management structure doesn't allow easy growth beyond this size. Hence, bigger lodges tend to carry a lot of passive members. These men may attend events, but they are not required to attend by virtue of a task or office. These men may read the newsletter, or focus on an appendent body; good men who want to be involved will find an outlet for their energy. If we do not provide them a role at the blue lodge, we will lose them to other interests.
What happens when a successful lodge loses a few leaders? Typically, new brethren or sideliners will step to take the reins. My contention is that there are more of these men falling off each year in our good lodges, than are 'allowed' to step up into the ranks of the officers or key committee roles. The rather severe pruning that occurs when 'birthing' a new lodge then can be a shock for the original lodge. Leaders must prepare for this, and challenge back benchers to step forward. With the right planned transition, both groups will succeed, and in five years, we'll have two viable lodges, each with 20-25 positions of vital leadership.
Churchill has followed this model exactly. Now, about two years after formation, our mother lodges are still working to overcome the partial loss of some key members. But signs are there that several key young men have stepped up. We've found that the colonizers must make a diligent effort to reach back and assist in culture building for both lodges, lest the loss be too severe.
Divided loyalties, or the perception thereof, can be a real concern. I personally have seen instances where brethren of the older lodge have questioned where a colonizer's loyalties lie: with the mother lodge or the new lodge. It's crucial to focus on the lodge you are with while you are there. It can be very disruptive to discuss the new organization while at work at the old one. Even for a practiced veteran Mason, we need to be mindful of the impact of our words, and how we build culture by fully focusing on the lodge at hand. Influential leaders must watch for gaps where it is difficult to find someone to step up and take a role. Rathern than let a lodge fall down, the veteran should lend a hand. Eventually the gaps will be filled. Some new brother will learn the Staircase lecture or other difficult part. A crew of three or four friends will all step up to fill open officer positions. The back bench will become the starting lineup.
We'd suggest too, that a 'sideliner's night' strategy can be used to generate new ritual workers or officers. Lake Harriet Lodge uses this effectively, and more can be read about this at www.lodgebuilder.org.
As new lodge builders, we're engaged in making Masonry more viable as a long-term institution. I'm convinced that more small lodges are better than fewer large lodges. During the Churchill experiment, we touched on some sensitive issues. These cannot be allowed to derail the larger purpose of bringing more men into vital brotherhood roles, and building more engaged officers. Comments?