According to most dictionaries, a "sponsor" is "someone who takes responsibility for another." In the Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis, a sponsor takes responsibility for helping someone to grow in his or her spiritual life. Sponsorship is the act of revisiting (but not attempting to repeat) The Walk to Emmaus or Chrysalis experience with a person whom God has laid on your heart as a potential weekend participant. It requires extensive prayer, diligent thought, careful planning, and follow-through. The first few steps of sponsorship are:
- Commit the process to God.
- Pray that God will guide you to a person with whom He wants you to share the Walk to Emmaus or Chrysalis.
- Turn over all control and expectations to God. Enable God to work through you for His timing and instruction about who you should or should not sponsor
As you consider whom to sponsor, it's important to keep in mind the following criteria for Wise and Unwise Sponsorship.
Sponsorship has far reaching implications. It affects not only a sponsor and pilgrim/caterpillar, but can have a direct bearing on the overall health of an Emmaus/Chrysalis community. Remember that "good sponsorship" is the first act of agape before the Walk or Flight ever begins. Consider sponsoring:
- Those persons who are already committed to living a life that is pleasing to God
- Those persons who want to grow and increases their knowledge and understanding of God and His will.
- Church and youth leaders (both clergy and laypersons) who are actively serving on church committees, or are engaged in ministries or outreach programs; in other words, participating in the ministries of the local church.
- Couples--given the Upper Room's "Equal Commiment Rule," it is always necessaryfor a sponsor to extend an invitation to both the husband and wife to attend the same set of walks, so they can share a common experience.
- Persons seeking their service role in the church, faithful attendees, dependable persons with talents and gifts who seem to be searching for a place to serve.
- Members of Christian denominations and diverse congregations.
Unwise sponsorship can result from a sponsor's unbridled enthusiasm for asking all his/her friends to attend a Walk to Emmaus or Chrysalis Flight in hopes that everyone will have the exact same experience that the sponsor had -- rather than prayerfully seeking God's will about who to sponsor. Further examples of unwise sponsorship include but are not limited to attempting to sponsor:
- Those persons who would find The Walk to Emmaus or Chrysalis a discomforting experience because of their beliefs about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that differ from the traditional Christian belief of the Holy Trinity. The Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis are not the place for theological or religious debate, and such persons who want to engage in these debates should not be pressed to attend.
- Persons who belong to Christian or other groups that have specific dietary restrictions and Sabbath celebrations that the Emmaus and Chrysalis weekend experiences cannot provide.
- Persons who are not seeking membership in a local church or do not see the necessity to join any local church.
- Persons involved in recent or unresolved emotional distress; for example, the death of a loved one, a family breakup, divorce proceedings, work downsizing, or serious health problems. Sponsoring someone in an attempt to "fix" such problems is unwise sponsorship.
- Those who are unable to sit in the conference room chairs for several hours at a time
- Those who have severe medical conditions that may not permit them to participate actively in the weekend without facing significant discomfort or risk.
- "Church hoppers" who tend to join a church, find something they don't like about it, complain, and then leave, only to repeatedly start the same process at other churches.
- "Soap boxers" who will use any forum to champion their favorite social or other agenda in an effort simply to persuade others to accept their opinions.
- Persons whose beliefs differ significantly from the basic Christian doctrine espoused in the Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis.
Responsibilities of a Sponsor
All sponsors are accountable for doing the following:
Prior to the Walk/Flight
1. Spend concentrated time in prayer in an effort to discern whom God wants you to sponsor. The overriding purpose of Emmaus and Chrysalis is to raise up Christian servant leaders who will spread the love of Jesus Christ in homes, schools, businesses, with family and friends, and in the local churche. The entire weekend experience is intended to lead participants to desire a reordering of their priorities, to understand and experience God's grace within a community of believers, and to be drawn into deeper discipleship by the Holy Spirit.
2. Meet with the prospective participant in person to share some of the aspects of the walk or flight, and answer any questions.
- Please note: This is an appropriate time to address the issue of "secrecy." One of the worst mistakes made by some who have attended the Emmaus Walk or Chrysalis Flight is to be too secretive about what happens on a Walk to Emmaus or Chrysalis Flight. There is nothing secret about the Walk to Emmaus or Chrysalis, and no secrets are ever intended. When your prospective participant asks a specific question, you should always give an honest and truthful answer. Chances are that they will think to ask you about Candlelight or Dying Moments but if they do, do not deceive them. It would be better to tell them more than to be secretive. Keep in mind that some things, like riding a bicycle, simply have to be experienced. No word or agenda can replicate the experience.
3. Explain the particulars for the weekend to your prospective participant:
- There will be talks given by clergy and laypersons, plenty of group discussion, praise and worship, Holy Communion, and time for fellowship.
- All meals (including special dietary needs to the extent possible) and snacks will be provided
- The sleeping accomodations are in modern conference facilities with heating, A/C, and bathroom facilities.
- He/she need to refer to the packing list in the application and make sure to bring items listed on it.
- He/she will be with people they don't know, but in a short time, they can expect to become part of a close-knit community with other Christians who are attending or serving during the weekend.
- He/she can expect to experience the agape love of God through the loving service of His people.
4. Explain the role of Reunion Groups and how being a part of a Reunion Group can help and encourage even greater spiritual growth.
5. After you have answered all questions:
- Give prospective participant an application. Application forms can be downloaded from this website under the "Downloads" menu on the left. Be sure to explain the application.
- Refer your prospective participant to the video on home page of this website, the content under "About Emmaus," also on the homepage, and consider giving them a "What is Emmaus?" pamphlet, if available.
- Discuss the deposit ($25.00) and total cost to attend the weekend (total cost noted within application form, which includes the deposit).
- Ask your prospective participant to prayerfully consider your prayerful offer to attend an Emmaus/Chrysalis weekend and ask him/her for a time you to check back for an answer. (Note: For Chrysalis applications make sure to talk to parents/guardians as well as explain the notary requirement.) Your potential participant may offer the following responses among others: "I'm not interested not now, but perhaps later," or "I'm willing to attend." If you receive the first answer, then extend a thank but do not be discouraged, for it simply may not be God's timing for that person to attend. If you receive the second answer, then make sure to collect the completed application and verify that all information has been provided.
6. Since applicants are placed on the list in the order they are received, make sure to confirm with the Registrar that the application has been received. Keep in mind that upon receipt of an application to a Walk or Flight, the Registrar sends a postcard to each applicant, asking for his/her commitment to attend the upcoming Walk/Flight. It is the sponsor's responsibility to advise the Registrar of any changes to an application, such as a change of address or phone number, or the desire to attend a different Walk or Flight.
7. If your prospective participant accepts the invitation to attend the upcoming weekend, begin preparations to request the personal agape letters: 12 letters are needed. Ask him/her for a list of family and friends that you can ask to pray for them for the weekend. Please mark the envelopes (or ask those submitting letters to do so) containing the letters with the applicant's name and label them as being from: "family member," "friend," "spouse," "parent," "sponsor," or pastor. If you obtain more than 12 letter, the extra ones will be returned to you, the sponsor, to deliver after the weekend is completed. Make sure that their "pastor" letter, "spouse" letter (if applicable), "parent" letter (if applicable), and "sponsor" letters are clearly labeled, so the agape team can check them off.
8. A few days before the Walk/Flight, contact your participant (and his or her parents if Chrysalis) as a reminder and be available to answer any other questions. Offer guidance about what to pack for the weekend, using information provided on the application.
The Day of the Walk/Flight
- Take your participant to the camp (by 7:00pm Thursday night for Walk to Emmaus -- or 8:00am Friday morning for Chrysalis) and assist with the check-in process.
- Remain with your participant through send-off introducing him/her to others. A meal (dinner for Emmaus or breakfast for Chrysalis) will be provided shortly after Send-off at the Camp.
- Following Send-off, stay for the sponsor's hour. At this time, you have the opportunity to pray for your participant and to pray over their cross.
During the Walk/Flight
- Spend as much time a possible in prayer for your participant. Be part of the 72 hour prayer vigil.
- During the 72 hours check on your participant's family to provide necessary assistance.
- Attend the Candlelight service and take any additional agape letters you have collected to the camp.
- Attend closing. (For Chrysalis - parents and youth directors are also allowed to attend.
After the Walk/Flight
- Take your new community member back to his/her home.
- Assist him or her in joining a reunion group.
- Take the new community member to his/her first gathering and introduce him/her to others in the Emmaus/Chrysalis community.
- Teach the new community member how to be a good sponsor and be sure he/she understands the responsibilities of good sponsorship. Youth need to have an adult co-sponsor.
- Tell the new community member how to serve the Emmaus/Chrysalis community in future walks and flights.
Remember: focus on wise sponsorship. It should be careful, intentional, prayerful and purposeful, because it is the result of God's leading. Wisely sponsored pilgrims return to their church and community renewed in the commitment to be effective disciples. This is the purpose of Emmaus and Chrysalis.