Sponsoring–The Lifeblood of Tres Dias
Sponsoring–The Lifeblood of Tres Dias
By Jan Coleman
“I’m not a giant in the world of sponsoring,” said Milt Underwood, as he opened the sponsoring workshop at the TDI Assembly. But as the current chair of Georgia Mountains Tres Dias, he is well aware that, “While God is the lifeblood of any community, the other lifeblood is a healthy sponsorship program.”
There was no argument from the group gathered that afternoon. We were there to glean tips on a better approach to sponsoring.
“Is economy the blame of poor sponsorship?” Milt asked us. Probably not, we all agreed. “What has more to do with it,” he said, “is that we don’t put enough effort into it, and we don’t teach our people the right approach. Anything you want to learn to do well, you must put an emphasis on it.”
If you look up “sponsor” in the dictionary, it’s first defined as “someone who takes a responsibility for someone or something.” It was the second part of the definition that shook Milt a bit: A person who teaches and guides someone in religious or spiritual matters. “To me that puts a deeper meaning to sponsoring. It means I’m taking responsibility for that person’s religious or spiritual walk.”
Milt motivated us to enlarge our views of sponsoring. If the purpose of TD is to develop leaders, it’s the sponsor’s duty to guide the candidate through all three phases of Tres Dias: pre-weekend, weekend and 4th day. And it’s the community’s job to train pescadores to sponsor correctly. We assume people naturally know. We fall short when we simply mention sponsoring for a few minutes at sequelas or team training and then say, “Go get ’em.”
“Have a plan for sponsoring,” Milt emphasized. “God can work with a plan—a good one or a bad one, but one thing he can’t do is—work with no plan.”
I came away with these nuggets from the workshop:
Train, train, train.
Consider holding sponsorship training, where new and seasoned pescadores come together and receive instruction on the basics of inviting people to a weekend; the “who,” the “how to,” and the “how not to.” It’s such a priority in the GMTD community that they set aside 20 minutes during sequelas to talk about sponsoring. “At a sequela,” Milt says, “You’ll get the most active pescadores. And it’s the best chance of having new people there.” It’s the new, excited pescadores who can’t wait to share the experience with others, but if they don’t know the basics, they’ll struggle.
Sponsorship is relational.
Start with your realm of influence, with people that you know and love. We have no business sponsoring strangers. As a sales person, Milt knows that, “Until I have a relationship with you and know your needs, I won’t be able to sell you on Tres Dias.” Know your candidate and share your heart.
Spin in right:
It’s important to put a positive spin on what you’re trying to promote, so share how Tres Dias grew your faith, stretched you, changed your priorities, improved your prayer life. Never say, “You need this.” What the candidate hears is, “He thinks I’m deficient somewhere.” Instead, say, “You deserve this.” It’s all in how we approach it. And don’t go overboard or pressure. It scares people away.
Offer to help the persons who you sponsored, to sponsor others. Go with them to meet prospective candidates. They won’t be as nervous when there is somebody on hand to answer questions and provide clarity.
Encourage your community to create a sponsorship guideline packet.
Put something in pescadores’ hands. Make sure training resources are readily available in print and on the community website. Google “Tres Dias sponsorship guidelines,” and it will bring up communities that have sponsorship guidelines. You can select ideas from each one, and form a training module unique to your community. Make sure Pescadores get it.
Cut out the nonsense and secrecy.
Secrecy has become a tradition. There’s nothing in the essentials that says we can’t talk openly about our experiences. Tell the men, go home and love on your wife, and tell her everything: the 15 talks, the discussions, the chapels, the worship, anything else she needs to know. It’s better to anticipate than wonder. Some people agree to go on a weekend on blind faith, but most won’t risk trusting you if they think you’re holding something back. If Tres Dias sounds like a secret society, they’ll be highly skeptical. Cults have secrets. Tres Dias doesn’t.
As current President of the community, God has led Milt to get back to the basics. It’s what we were all encouraged to do that day. To get prepared, knowing God will honor our preparation.
Georgia Mountain TD was created out of North Georgia and hosts three sets of men’s and women’s’ weekends each year, plus one weekend for single women weekend. A full weekend for GMTD is 42 candidates.
** Some communities use the term “pilgrim” instead of “candidate.