Tentmaking is mission done in accordance with the model of the apostle Paul. He was a tentmaker by profession, and made a living through his work when he was on his mission journeys (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor 9). Today the ‘tentmaking’ label is used to describe everyone who seeks to serve the Lord in other cultures through his or her profession. It includes business people, professionals, and students bringing the gospel onwards to new places.
Tentmaking provides many unique opportunities to share and demonstrate the gospel:
- Tentmakers are self-supported; thus all churches can send tentmakers and take part in God´s global mission no matter what financial resources they have.
- Tentmakers live and work under the same conditions as other people, and thus they are able to model what it means to live as a follower of Christ in common, everyday life.
- The vast majority of unreached people groups live within nations that are closed to traditional missionaries. Tentmakers can go everywhere. The fields of business, education, and tourism provide special opportunities for tentmakers to meet people of all nations.
Christians in many skills, trades, businesses and professions, can often go to places where traditional church planters and evangelists may not. What these ‘tentmakers’ and business people do in the workplace must be valued as an aspect of the ministry of local churches. The Cape Town Commitment II-A-3
During the past three years, the network has worked to raise awareness about tentmaking in the global church, this in fruitful cooperation with the Marketplace Ministry network. National and regional courses on tentmaking have been held on all continents.
Our future plans are to:
- Strengthen the tentmaking movement: There is a need to strengthen the growing, worldwide tentmaking movement by providing good courses and material on how everyone can integrate life and faith, lead people to Christ, and start fellowships where new believers can grow as followers of Jesus.
- Promote opportunities: There is a need to make tentmaking and tentmaking opportunities better known in the global church so that everyone can take part in God’s calling to bring the gospel to the whole world. We will contribute to this by running regional and national courses and conferences on tentmaking and by promoting conferences on the theology of work. In cooperation with other Lausanne issue networks, we are planning a Global Workplace Forum in 2017.
- Clarify the model: ‘Tentmaking’ is not a protected term. Many people call themselves tentmakers even if they are dependent on support. There is thus a need to clarify how this model works, focusing on the workplace and unreached people groups. We will also investigate how tentmakers and traditional missionaries can work together and supplement each other in order to strengthen the work of God´s kingdom.