Good sponsorship is vital to the integrity of Emmaus. Many communities
take sponsorship for granted; they assume that everyone knows
the how and why of sponsorship. Yet sponsorship is the most important
job in Emmaus. It is more than just “signing up people”. The quality
of sponsorship influences the pilgrim, the health of the Emmaus
Movement, and the church affected by the movement.
sponsorship is your first act of agape before a Walk ever begins;
the experience of the Walk for a pilgrim really starts with how
we handle sponsorship.
sponsorship undergirds the whole weekend with sacrificial love
on behalf of each pilgrim. Sponsors use discernment in recruiting
pilgrims, embody the personal commitment of the community to each
pilgrim, and provide personal acts of agape during the three days
for the pilgrims. These acts of agape include prayer, agape letters,
presence at Send off, Candlelight and Closing, and follow-up.
sponsorship is the foundation for a healthy, effective Emmaus
movement that is fulfilling its true purpose - the development
of Christian leaders and the renewal of the church in ministry.
The strength of any Emmaus community is a direct result of its
recruiting practices. If the community is committed to recruiting
strong church leaders for the purpose of strengthening the local
church, then the community will be a strong, vital force in the
renewal movement. If, on the other hand, the Walk to Emmaus is
looked upon as a hospital where every human ill can be cured,
it will have a weakening effect on the entire community.
WHY DO WE SPONSOR?
The aim of
a sponsor should not be to “get all my friends to go”, to fill
up the weekend, to fix people's problems, or to reproduce one's
own religious experience in others. Rather, the aim of the sponsor
is to bring spiritual revitalization to Christians who, in turn,
will bring new life and vision to the work of the church in the
congregation, home, workplace, and community. The aim of sponsorship
is to build up the Body of Christ.
WHOM DO WE SPONSOR?
of and commitment to the purpose of Emmaus influences who is sponsored
and how they are sponsored. Emmaus is for active Christians and
members of churches whose own renewal will mean new energy, commitment,
and vision in the church and everyday environments for Christ's
sake. There are several qualities a prospective pilgrim should
First, the person should already be on a pilgrimage, willing to
grow and move forward in their journey of faith. Second, the person
should have a Christian passion. The pilgrim knows God can make
and has made a difference in their life.
Third, the person isn’t so consumed by life’s circumstances that
they are unable to give full attention to the message and experience
Those sponsored could include the following:
• church leaders (pastors and laypersons) who will bring new vision,
commitment, and understanding back to their congregations and
who need the renewal and grace Emmaus channels;
• dependable church members who are the quiet backbone of the
• less active members who need their awareness of grace rekindled
and their commitments renewed;
• Christians who are hungry for “something more” and who want
to grow spiritually;
• Respected laypersons and clergypersons whose participation,
support, and leadership will encourage others to attend the Walk
and will build a sound, balanced leadership base for the movement
in the community; and
• members of diverse congregations, denominations, and ethnic
Emmaus is right for many people - but not for everyone.
The religious background or emotional condition of some people
may make Emmaus an improper discipleship tool for them. Others
may be unsuitable for sponsorship because of the negative effect
they might have on an Emmaus weekend or the divisive influence
they might bring to the church. Sponsorship requires sensitivity
to these factors. Some examples of questionable sponsorship are
• Christians whose theology and/or practice is notably different
or incompatible with the traditional theology and practice represented
by The Walk to Emmaus;
• persons undergoing an emotional crisis (for example, family
breakup, job loss, severe grief) or who are psychologically unstable;
• “church-hoppers” – those who always have an axe to grind against
the church; persons who will use Emmaus as a tool to divide the
body, to further their own theological agendas, or who will create
an “Emmaus church”;
• persons who are always looking for another spiritual high or
another experience to help them “arrive”; and
• persons who decide not to attend a Walk after being presented
the opportunity. A potential sponsor need not feel like a failure
if a prospect says no. Perhaps the timing is not right. Perhaps
God will renew the person in another way. Remember, The Walk to
Emmaus is not the way to renewal for every Christian.
is purposeful and prayerful; unwise sponsorship is haphazard and
undiscerning. Wise sponsorship eventually will produce a balanced,
theologically centered movement of the Holy Spirit. Unwise sponsorship
eventually will produce a harvest that becomes more of a burden
than a blessing for the church.
HOW DO WE SPONSOR?
1. Pray for
the person's openness to God's call to discipleship, not for how
to get him or her to go on a Walk.
2. Extend an invitation. Invite the person to attend for the sake
of a more vital relationship with Jesus Christ, not just an event
to go to. Share your faith; explain the basic elements of the
Walk, its purpose, and follow-up dimensions, which help us live
in grace for the rest of our lives. Take the attitude that you
are offering the person a wonderful gift rather than that they
need to go.
3. Ask the person to make a commitment by filling out the registration
form. If the person is married, speak with both partners and encourage
an equal commitment by both. ALL parts of the application must
be completed and signed.
4. Continue to pray for your prospective pilgrim. Once the pilgrim
has been assigned to a Walk, begin to prepare agape letters and
enlist the support of their pastor. Collect eight to twelve personal
agape letters from spouse, family, pastor, and close friends.
Please try to make sure that your pilgrim’s agape letters are
properly addressed. It is helpful to make sure the letter writer
is identified in the upper left corner of the envelope using the
terms spouse, son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father,
etc. rather than just “family”. The reason for this is because
the number of letters handed out on Sunday is now limited and
it is most important to be able to easily identify immediate family
letters. If they receive more than ten letters, the rest are put
in a separate bag to be taken home to read. Do not send personal
agape for the pilgrim to be delivered during the weekend. Pilgrims
are not allowed to receive individual agape during the weekend.
5. Support the Walk through your participation in the 72-Hour
Prayer Vigil and your presence at Sendoff, Candlelight and Closing.
Support the pilgrim's family by housesitting, baby-sitting, feeding
pets, watering plants, or just checking in with a spouse to see
if any help is needed. For this reason it is best not to sponsor
more than one pilgrim or couple at a time.
6. Encourage the pilgrim in his or her Fourth Day involvement.
Talk to them about their weekend experience. Help the pilgrim
find or start a reunion group. Take the pilgrim to the first Gathering
after their Walk. You could even offer to baby-sit so your pilgrim
can attend a Candlelight.
7. Help the pilgrim re-enter their church and consider ways to
act out new commitment and enthusiasm.
8. Inform the pilgrim about ways to serve the Emmaus community
on future Walks, creating agape and writing letters to other pilgrims.
9. Help the pilgrim understand how to sponsor others.
WHO CAN SPONSOR?
who have participated in Emmaus can sponsor another person to
Emmaus so long as they understand the aim and responsibilities
of sponsorship and can fulfill them for the person they would
sponsor. Persons who have participated in Chrysalis can also sponsor
adults to Emmaus under the same conditions.
should not serve as team members on Walks with persons they are
sponsoring. If you decide to serve on the team, you should find
another person to serve as sponsor. Sponsors must be able to fulfill
the responsibilities of sponsorship as a priority over serving
on the team. Combining the roles of team member and sponsor in
one’s relationship with a pilgrim diminishes the value of both
THE EQUAL COMMITMENT RULE
of Agreement states that “husbands and wives are encouraged to
make an equal commitment to participate.” The rule does not mean
that Emmaus primarily focuses on married persons. Single persons
are as welcome to participate in Emmaus as married couples. However,
the rule does reflect a concern and hope about the effect of Emmaus
on marriages and families.
equal commitment rule guards against the Emmaus experience becoming
a divisive influence in a marriage. Emmaus can be the occasion
for commitments to new life directions that one’s spouse may not
understand or appreciate at the time. The Emmaus Movement attempts
to strengthen marriages and to avoid practices that may have the
potential to affect a marriage adversely.
the rule is followed, Emmaus can indirectly strengthen the spiritual
bond in a marriage and family. So sponsorship of married persons
involves approaching both husband and wife together and encouraging
them to make an equal commitment to participate.
equal commitment rule results in increased participation of many
grateful husbands and wives who probably would not have attended
a Walk otherwise but did so in order to make it possible for their
spouse to participate. While their initial motivation for going
on a Walk may not have been personal, they came to realize during
the course of the weekend that the Walk was also meant for them.
commitment rule does not mean a wife can never go to Emmaus unless
her husband has gone first. It is always best to schedule spouses’
participation in the same set of weekends so they can share their
experience and support each other. However, circumstances may
arise when husbands or wives must attend their Walks at different
times. In these cases, the order of participation is secondary
and becomes a practical matter.
however, that the equal commitment rule represents wisdom, not
law. Exceptions may be granted when there is no possibility of
participation by both spouses and reasonable assurance that the
participation of only one spouse will not adversely affect the
SHOULD I TELL MY PILGRIM?
While a pilgrim
may not know what questions to ask, you do not need to tell them
everything that will occur during the three days. However, keep
in mind there are no secrets! Saying to a pilgrim that you can’t
tell them anything about the Walk potentially creates unnecessary
suspicion and anxiety. And for clergy and staff leadership, this
posture often builds a wall of division that results in an “us
vs. them” mentality against the Emmaus community. There is no
reason to shroud the event in secrecy. This practice has probably
done more harm to the movement than people realize. You can share
many things about Emmaus without revealing some of the unique
and meaningful experiences such as Candlelight or agape letters.
Here are some suggested items to cover with a pilgrim.
• There are fifteen presentations (five each day) dealing with
subjects like setting priorities, serving God in everyday situations,
how to be a disciple, and how to persevere in faith. Encourage
• There is time spent in discussing these presentations.
• Time is spent in the chapel meditating and praying.
• Communion is emphasized.
• There is plenty of good food and fellowship.
• Discuss sleeping and showering arrangements with your pilgrim.
A list of suggested items to bring is included with the pilgrim’s
• No contact with family or business is expected except, of course,
• Tell how each weekend is unique, but each person seems to find
exactly what God wants that person to experience. Don’t try to
prejudge what a person’s needs are or what someone will get out
of the Walk to Emmaus. Simply tell your own story. There are no
expected results other than experiencing God’s love.
• ALL parts
of the application must be completed and signed. Read the “Sponsor
Information” section of the application carefully and prayerfully
consider your responsibility as a sponsor before signing your
name. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.
• Applications should be mailed or faxed to TRWE Registration
by the sponsor. The sponsor should do all communication with Registration
regarding a pilgrim unless circumstances dictate otherwise.