WHAT IS SPONSORSHIP?
Sponsorship is the act of revisiting The Walk to Emmaus experience with the person whom God has laid on your heart. Sponsorship is one of the most important aspects of The Walk to Emmaus. Do not take its responsibilities lightly or carry them out casually or haphazardly. Sponsorship requires extensive prayer, diligent thought, and careful planning and follow-through.
The authors of Day Four: The Pilgrim’s Continued Journey wrote, “The strength of any Emmaus community is a direct result of that community’s recruiting practices”. 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 “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.
We urge you to remember this focus as you consider sponsorship. Viewing The Walk to Emmaus as a hospital to cure all the ills will weaken the community. Pray and work to strengthen and renew the church.
As sponsors, we need to follow the scriptural principles of praying, being open to God, and then calling people by name to attend The Walk to Emmaus. Remember, 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. Consider these three principles:
THREE PRINCIPLES TO CONSIDER
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. As we spend this time in prayer, 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.
2. Openness to God
Our openness to God enables us to become God’s instruments in furthering divine will through The Walk to Emmaus. Being open to God includes having our eyes open to see God at work. Being open to God means we listen. Time and time again, the scriptures admonish us to listen to God and God’s instructions. Our openness to God allows us to receive God’s instruction – even when the instruction does not conform to our expectations. Our openness to God sensitizes us as to how God wants to renew and revitalize the church using all the aspects (sponsorship included) of the Emmaus experience.
3. Calling by Name
Another aspect of sponsorship is calling individuals by name. God called people by name – Noah, Abram (Abraham), Samuel, Esther, and others. Jesus also called individuals, and he called each person by name. In the Gospels we read of Jesus’ calling the twelve disciples by name. Nowhere in the Gospels do we read of Jesus issuing a general call for volunteers.
THREE ASPECTS OF GOOD SPONSORSHIP
The Upper Room Handbook on Emmaus lists three aspects of good sponsorship:
1. It is “the first act of agape” before a Walk ever begins.
2. It undergirds the whole weekend “with sacrificial love on behalf of each Pilgrim.”
3. 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.