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.

First, good 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.

Second, good 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, and presence at Send off, Candlelight and Closing, and follow-up.

Third, good 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.


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.


One's awareness 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 possess.

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 of Emmaus.

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 church;
  • 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 groups.

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 as follows:

  • Non-Christians
  • 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;
  • 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.

Wise sponsorship 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.


  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 twelve 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Help the pilgrim re-enter their church and consider ways to engage with new commitment and enthusiasm.
  9. Inform the pilgrim about ways to serve the Emmaus community on future Walks, creating agape and writing letters to other pilgrims.
  10. Help the pilgrim understand how to sponsor others.


Any persons 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.

Sponsors 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 roles.


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 builds a wall of division resulting 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.

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 note taking.
  • There is time spent in discussing these presentations.
  • Time is spent in prayer and meditation.
  • Communion is observed each day.
  • 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 welcome and acceptance letter.
  • The importance of the cloistered environment (having no contact with the outside world except, of course, for emergencies.
  • Tell how each weekend is unique, but each person seems to find exactly what God wants that person to experience. Don’t try to pre-judge 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.   Applications should be mailed to the Registrar by the sponsor.  All communications with the Registrar should be from the sponsor unless circumstances dictate otherwise.    The Pilgrim’s Application and Sponsor’s Form can be found here.