It is required to attend Sponsorship Training to sponsor a pilgrim on a Greater Findlay Emmaus Walk. The training sessions are held after each Gathering (the 3rd Tuesday of each month) and after Sponsor’s Hour in the chapel during each walks send off. It is preferred that you attend a training before you begin to sponsor a pilgrim. A sponsor must understand all the necessities of sponsoring in order to provide the best care for the pilgrim and their family.
Guidelines for Sponsorship
Sponsorship is a dynamic partnership between you and God.
The process of sponsorship is simple and straightforward. It starts with prayer, moves to a time of presentation, waits for decision, and then begins to work actively to support the pilgrim. It is one of the most important aspects of The Walk to Emmaus. Do not take its responsibilities lightly or carry then out casually or haphazardly. Sponsorship requires extensive prayer, diligent thought, and careful planning and follow through.
A sponsor should commit to recruiting strong church leaders in order to strengthen the local church.
For The Walk to Emmaus to be effective, individual congregations must know how to use the program. Emmaus is not a place where a local church sends its problem members to get them “straightened out,” nor is it an evangelistic tool to “make new Christians.” Emmaus is meant to strengthen church leaders. The Walk to Emmaus cannot do everything; instead it has narrowed its focus to the spiritual renewal of church leaders. Our sole purpose in recruiting new Pilgrims should be the strengthening of our own congregations. (Day Four, 50).
Viewing The Walk to Emmaus as a hospital to cure all ills will weaken the community. Pray and work to strengthen and renew the church.
Remember that The Walk to Emmaus is not for everyone. Be certain that the individual you invite is right for Emmaus and that Emmaus is right for that individual.
PRAYER Praying is the first step in sponsorship. At this time we commit the process to God. We release to God our control, our desires, and our expectations. We need to empty ourselves of self to be filled with God’s instruction, God’s timing, and God’s person for us to sponsor.
CALLING BY NAME Another aspect of sponsorship is calling individuals by name. God called people by name—Noah, Abram, Samuel, Esther, and others. Nowhere in the Gospels do we read of Jesus issuing a general call for volunteers! In the same we need to pray for God to help in selecting the person He wants us to call by name to be a part of the community.
WISE SPONSORSHIP One of the vital elements of the Emmaus Movement and one of the pillars of strength of each Emmaus community is wise sponsorship. Sponsorship is the most important job in Emmaus. It affects not only the sponsor and the pilgrim. It has a direct bearing on the health of the Emmaus movement and impacts the church affected by the movement. The person you sponsor is the seed you are sowing for the future of Emmaus and for future church leadership. The Upper Room Handbook on Emmaus (21) lists three aspects of good sponsorship:
- It is “the first act of agape” before a Walk ever begins.
- It undergirds the whole weekend “with sacrificial love on behalf of each Pilgrim”.
- It is the foundation for a healthy, effective Emmaus Movement, which results in the renewal of the church.
Thus, sponsorship offers an opportunity for spiritual revitalization to individual Christians who then serve as vessels of renewal in the church, congregation, home, workplace, and community. Wise sponsorship builds up the body of Christ.
Wise sponsorship is careful, intentional, prayerful, and purposeful because it results from God’s leading. The Pilgrims return to their churches and community renewed in their commitment to be effective disciples.
Whom do you sponsor?
Initially, consider sponsoring those persons who are committed to living a life that is pleasing to God, those who want to grow and increase their knowledge and understanding of God and God’s will. These persons evidence an excitement about being a Christian and recognize God’s work in the lives of those around them. Anyone who actively participates in the ministry of the local church is in a position of leadership and would be a good candidate for sponsoring. Next turn to those who actively work in the church behind the scenes, fulfilling the role of the servant. Often they are the backbone of the church.
They willingly do whatever is asked of them; they are the first ones to see a need and make an effort to fulfill it. Then move on to those who are seeking their service role – faithful attendees, dependable persons with many talents and gifts who seem to be searching for a place to serve. Many times these people are just waiting to be asked to do something. When they find an area that matches their gifts, they usually become strong leadership potential.
Responsibilities of the sponsor
- Spend concentrated time in prayer in an effort to discern whom God wants you to sponsor. You may take a long list of names with you; share them with God and leave the list with Him and Let Him reveal a name to you. God knows who best needs to be called.
- Continue to pray. Devote this prayer time to your presenting The Walk to Emmaus to them. Ask for the right timing and an openness on the part of the person. If they are married be sure to present it to both of them at the same time. This lessens any misunderstandings that may lead to division between the couple.
- Present The Walk to Emmaus to the person. Be willing to answer any question they may have. Be open and honest with them. Remember we are an open community not a secret society.
- Give them an application. Help them with any questions they may have and give them the time they need to decide. If no response may only mean that God’s timing is not ready. Allow God to be in charge.
- Obtain the application from them and fill out the sponsor part. Then submit it to the registrar with the appropriate deposit.
- Once the pilgrim has been confirmed of being on a walk, begin to prepare to request letter agape. Be sure to include family, friends, work relationships, church.
- Make arrangements to take your pilgrim to the walk. Help them with questions about what to take. Be there for them.
- Take them to The Walk site and assist with checking in. Stay with them through send off, introducing them to others around you. Then attend sponsors hour. At this time you have the opportunity to pray over their cross and lift them up.
- Make sure you are a part of the 72 hour prayer vigil and pray often for your pilgrim.
- Check on your pilgrim’s family during this time. If they have a need, help them through it.
- Attend Saturday night candlelight. Bring any agape letters that you may have been given with you. Your presence there will be a major support to your pilgrim.
- Attend closing and make sure your pilgrim has a way home. If the pilgrim’s spouse is there and has not attend an Emmaus week end, make sure that you allow them to take communion together. Do not separate them from their spouse.
- Encourage the new pilgrim to attend the gatherings and introduce them to other Emmaus people you know.
- Help them to learn how to be a good sponsor. They now have the opportunity to share this with others but need the guidance you can provide.
Once you decide to be a sponsor, include God as your guide and counselor. God knows best who is needed to be strengthened for His church and when.
Each step of sponsorship must include God.