Recruitment! This is one of those words that lead to argument and disagreement in almost all lodges. There are many camps and many schools of thought regarding Masonic recruitment. The spectrum begins with "absolutely all forms of recruitment are prohibited" to "no forms of recruitment are prohibited."
The pragmatist in me believes that the longer we fight about what should be done, we miss what could be done. However, to progress we must reach a common ground. I believe that most of our brothers argue over recruitment not because they disagree with what should and should not be done. They argue because they perceive the definition of recruitment differently. So, what is recruitment? What does it entail? How is it done? Where is it done? With whom is it done? If we asked these questions instead of "Should we recruit?", we'd get more brothers agreeing and less brothers fighting. So, let's try to delve into these questions and find the multitude of answers we can find.
Merriam-Webster defines recruitment as "the process of adding new individuals to a population or subpopulation (as of breeding or legally catchable individuals) by growth, reproduction, immigration, and stocking." By this definition, we're recruiting no matter what we do. Masonry has a process in place to add new individuals to its population. This process is called initiation. However, this is not what most Masons think of when they think of recruitment. Many brothers hear recruitment and they think about handing out flyers and pushing petitions into people's hands. As a minimum, many Masons define recruitment as the "act of asking a person to join the fraternity".
Now we can see two different meanings of recruitment arising. To differentiate between these meanings I would like to define recruitment in two separate terms, passive recruitment and active recruitment. Simply stated, passive recruitment is "the process of adding new individuals to the fraternity without asking" and active recruitment is "the process of adding new individuals to the fraternity by asking." With these two definitions, we can progress forward without alienating any of our brothers. Now we can talk about recruitment as a craft.
I would like to now propose two additional definitions that can be added to these ideas of recruitment, weak recruitment and strong recruitment. My definition of these terms refer to the amount of information that is disseminated amongst the non-Mason population. For instance, a brother in favor of weak recruitment would believe that Masonry does not need to disseminate information about itself to gain future members, while a brother in favor of strong recruitment would believe that Masonry needs to disseminate information about itself to gain future members. This delineation does not refer to propositioning non-Masons, only informing non-Masons.
With these new definitions of recruitment; passive and active, strong and weak, we can now define four definitive schools of thought regarding recruitment. Here are my definitions for these schools of thought:
- Passive Weak Recruitment - No one should be asked to become a Mason and Masons should not inform non-Masons about the fraternity. These brothers typically never speak about Masonry to the point that their families do not even know what they do with the lodge. These brothers expect candidates to ask to join the lodge without prior knowledge of what occurs in the lodge.
- Passive Strong Recruitment - No one should be asked to become a Mason, but Masons should inform non-Masons about the fraternity. These brothers typically talk about Masonry frequently with their family and friends, but rarely discuss it with people they are not close to. These brothers expect candidates to ask to join the lodge with prior knowledge of what occurs in lodge.
- Active Weak Recruitment - Individuals are allowed to be asked to become a Mason, but Masons should not inform non-Masons about the fraternity. These brothers typically ask people to join Masonry directly, but inform the candidate that he can only learn about the fraternity once he is part of it. These brothers are willing to ask a candidate to join the lodge without prior knowledge of what occurs in lodge.
- Active Strong Recruitment - Individuals are allowed to be asked to become a Mason and Masons should inform non-Masons about the fraternity. These brothers typically talk about Masonry frequently and are willing to ask non-Masons to join. These brothers are willing to ask a candidate to join the lodge with prior knowledge of what occurs in lodge.
This is part one of a series of posts I plan on writing about recruitment. Please tune in for the next installment entitled "Quality vs Quantity - A False Choice." This will be published once I finish the article, hopefully over the weekend. Thanks for reading :)