LEARNING THROUGH SERVICE
Emmaus Conference Room Servanthood
Primary Emmaus Objectives
The Walk to Emmaus movement has three objectives:
- To strengthen individual’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- To return strong lay leaders to the church.
- To encourage people to Christianize their environment.
The first step is to strengthen your relationship with Christ. Re-evaluate your personal priorities. Set aside time for prayer and study. If you are church shopping or visiting, then start by becoming a member of a church body. Consider your commitment of resources to your church – your financial giving, your time spent on in-reach programs and on out-reach missions. Remember the three legs of the stool: Piety, Study and Action. Join or start a Reunion Group, it will help you remain accountable for your personal growth.
The next step is to consider your leadership role within your church. Are you actively serving your church on committees, in the choir, teaching Sunday school, working with the youth program, leading a mission project? The opportunities and needs are limitless. Please keep your church ahead of Emmaus. It is not our goal to become a substitute church or to drain resources from the church. Instead we want to be an encouragement and a source of renewal to the church body.
Thirdly, consider your impact on your environment. Start with your own immediate family. Pray with your spouse and children. Protect your meditation and study time as a high priority. Demonstrate that seeking God’s will is an important part of your personal and family decision process. Consider being more visibly Christian in your work environment. Be kind, fair and honest in your dealings. Politely tell people when their behavior is offensive to you. When people ask you why you are different, openly share your faith with them. Model Christian behavior in the community – on the highway, at sporting events, in the store. Be someone others want to know and be like.
Another way to think about this is that our Fourth Days are a journey – from passive spectator to active participant; from consumer to producer; from the self-actualizing served to the self-sacrificing servant!
Learning through Service
Now let’s talk about your involvement in the Heart of Carolina Emmaus community. We believe that the Emmaus experience changes almost everyone that goes on a walk. Historically, about one third of those become active in our community. We hope you will be one of them! It starts with participation. Come to our events – Gathering the fourth Friday of every month except when a walk falls on that weekend, Send-off, Candlelight and Closing for each walk, and community training sessions.
On your walk you experienced agape love. That love is expressed through selfless service from members of the community – people like you! There are many areas of service open to you. Your Reunion Group can make agape gifts to distribute on a walk. Sign-up sheets for all of the work areas needed to put on a walk are at every Gathering. The 72-hour prayer vigil and speaker’s prayer vigil are also available for signing at Gathering and send-off. Sign-up sheets for helping with Gathering and in other areas are at Gatherings as well. If you can’t make it to the Gathering, you may contact the board member responsible for a particular work area directly. You are likely to discover that this service is a great source of renewal and joy!
A much more personal way you can provide agape love is to sponsor someone on a walk. This requires about a year-long commitment to that person. It starts with explaining what Emmaus is about and answering their questions. There are booklets available that are wonderful resources to help you through the process. If they are married, you need to meet with them as a couple. You should encourage both of them to go on walks close together. If only one wants to go on the walk, it is your responsibility to get an assurance from both of them that Emmaus will not become a problem in their relationship. You need to get sponsor letters, arrange transportation and provide for any family needs (baby-sitting, pet-sitting, emergency numbers, etc) while they are on the walk. You should plan to attend send-off, candlelight, closing and follow-up. After their walk, you should help them get into a reunion group, bring them to their first gathering and candlelight and provide encouragement and support for their continued spiritual growth.
Every August, the Heart of Carolina community elects new members to its board of directors. Each class serves a three-year term and consists of four or five lay member positions and one clergy member position. The positions may be filled by an individual or by a couple. The board selects a Community Lay Director and a Community Spiritual Director from among its members. Every year, all board members sign a covenant statement with The Upper Room in Nashville, that our community will faithfully follow the Emmaus manual. Each board position is responsible for one or more work areas. Each of these work areas needs volunteers to serve to make our community successful. The board usually meets six to nine times per year. Board members are usually asked to serve on one team per year and to attend all community events.
Conference Room Service
Heart of Carolina teams are usually twenty-five people strong. The board selects the Lay Directors and Spiritual Directors each year for the following year’s walks. Team formation starts five to six months prior to the walk. The HOC Board appoints a Team Selection Committee chaired by one board position and consisting of 4-7 experienced community members. The TSC works with the walk Lay Director and Spiritual Director to select about 75 potential candidates for each team.
Each walk requires a team of people willing to make a significant commitment of time and energy. Each team has several training sessions. The first is a board training session. This gives the team an opportunity to get acquainted. The board member responsible for training goes through the responsibilities of each team position. Team manuals and talk assignments are passed out and prayer partners are named. Each talk has an outline that provides 50-75% of the material presented on the weekend. The rest comes from the personal experiences of the speaker. Over the next month or two, each speaker develops their talk and posters from the outline. They often get input, suggestions and opportunities to practice their talk from spouses and reunion group members. The team then has their team training. This may be a weekend retreat or a series of Saturdays. This is a time of team bonding, group worship, situation training and talk reviews. A few weeks before the walk, one or two teams get together for a potluck meal, final training and worship together. After the weekend, all team members are asked to attend Follow-Up to critique their weekend experience and recommend improvements to the board.
The HOC community is committed to a team selection process that ensures fairness and proper preparation. We seek to have each team be representative of our community in age, location, race and denomination. Lay members are not eligible for consideration by team selection until one year after their walk. Lay members should not serve twice in the same calendar year or on two consecutive walks. The amount of weekend time commitment, in both training and the walk, currently requires us to relax these time restrictions for clergy members.
There is a progression of team positions based on learning through experience. All team members must be active in a church and members of a reunion group. Each team is roughly one-third first time team members, one-third on their second or third team and one-third on their fourth or more. Each team has five clergy and twenty laity. All lay team members must be the same gender as the pilgrims on the walk. There must be one current or former HOC board member who serves as Board Rep and is responsible for ensuring conformance to the Walk to Emmaus manual.
First time positions are Assistant Table Leader, Assistant Spiritual Director and Assistant Music Leader. Sometimes there will be a first time Table Leader as well. The team selection committee looks for people that have learned about putting on a walk by serving behind the scenes and participating in Gatherings. Given that each walk returns about twelve active members to our Emmaus community and needs six or seven first time team members, over time we will need about half of our active community to serve on a team.
Conference Team Positions
Assistant Table Leaders (ATL) help the table leader by modeling a cooperative pilgrim – they follow directions, are on time, help keep table discussions on topic, and encourage all pilgrims to participate.
Table Leaders (TL) give one of the lay talks and are responsible for facilitating the talk reviews at the table. They need to encourage all pilgrims to participate and not let any one person dominate the discussion.
Assistant Lay Directors (ALD) give one of the key lay talks. They are responsible for keeping the weekend moving smoothly. Each day one of them is responsible for the conference room, one for the kitchen and one for that day’s speakers. Teams will alternate between having one or two experienced ALDs. First time ALDs have previously been on at least two teams, have served as both an ATL and TL, and have given at least one talk. Experienced ALDs have been an ALD before.
Lead Assistant Lay Director (LALD) is the operations manager for the weekend. They usually do not give a talk. They give the progress report to the community at candlelight. They have been an ALD at least two times.
Lay Director (LD) is the leader of the walk. They form and train the lay team. They give the Perseverence talk. They have been a LALD previously.
Assistant Music Leaders (AML) help lead the music. They may provide some of the special solos. Most importantly, they are there to learn how to select appropriate music during the walk’s progress and how to transform music from performance to group worship.
Music Leaders (ML) are responsible for all of the music on the weekend. They should have been an AML at least once. They select what music is appropriate when. They teach the pilgrims community songs. They provide meditative solos during special services. They lead the conference room in worship through music.
Assistant Spiritual Directors (ASD) give one of the clergy “grace” talks. They also lead one or more of the meditations and are available to pilgrims (and team members) for spiritual counseling.
Spiritual Director (SD) is the spiritual leader of the walk. They form and train the clergy team. They give the Means of Grace talk and lead the Dying Moments communion service. They have been an ASD at least once previously.
Past Lay Directors traditionally do not serve on another team for two years. After eight or more years of continuous service to our community, they deserve a rest! Because of their experience, they are called upon to fill in when a team member must drop off a team or when there are no qualified candidates able to serve for a team position. They also are frequently sought to be on the Team Selection Committee.
The team’s primary focus is self-sacrifice and service to the pilgrims on the walk. Our model for this was given to us by our Lord when He washed the feet of His disciples.