16 Oct Tentmakers for this Twenty-First Century
Presenting the gospel in the twenty-first century is fraught with great challenges. Conditions around the world demand creative and innovative approaches to sharing the gospel message where conventional methods seem to be coming up short with results. Secularism, postmodernism, and post-postmodernism hold sway, while globalization and nationalism are posing threats. The picture is not altogether gloomy, as situations provide opportunities for creative strategies for sharing the gospel. For instance, the 10/40 window is the geographical nexus where three major world religions are the dominant faith traditions. Although these regions have traditionally been considered “resistant” to the gospel and regarded as limited access zones, recent developments indicate that a different approach for reaching them is reportedly effective through the medium of tentmaking.
Who is a Tentmaker?
Tentmakers are mission-motivated believers who support themselves in secular work and witness Christ in their being and doing on the job and in their free time. They may be business entrepreneurs, salaried professionals, paid employees, expenses-paid voluntary workers, or Christians in professional exchange, funded research, internship, or study abroad programs. They can serve at little or no cost to the Church.
“Tentmaking is lay Christians going into different nations/places with various professions, seeking to fulfill the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says J Christy Wilson. Jr.
Tentmaker refers to a mission-minded believer who works in a cross-cultural situation, is recognized by the host culture as someone other than a “religious professional”, and yet in terms of his or her commitment, calling, motivation, and training, is a witness for Christ in every way.
In the God-given context, the tentmakers’ primary focus is to reflect the love of Christ in and through their respective positions of service/job/education/research and ensures that these roles and responsibilities will not rob his time to be an impact and influence by permeating the pleasing aroma of Christ. The primary goal is to be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The approach is ideal for workplaces or campuses. Casual conversations and personal lifestyles during working and non-working hours give ample opportunity to arouse thirsty souls and they are filled with the living water.
The following are the reasons why tentmaking is important:
- It provides entry into hostile countries. About 80% of the world’s population, including most unreached people, live in countries that do not allow full-time workers.
- It provides natural, sustained contact with non-believers in restrictive and open countries. This is essential for winning them. Tentmakers relate easily to their professional counterparts abroad.
- It conserves scarce mission funds for ministries that must have full support, at a time of rising costs worldwide and an often-uncertain financial crunch.
- It supplements ministry by incarnating the gospel for millions now able to hear it. The gospel must be seen as well as heard. Tentmakers through their lifestyle win listeners, disciple them and establish fellowships.
- It makes use of today’s vast global job market which God has engineered to help us win the world for Christ. Dare we ignore hundreds of thousands of well-paid job openings worldwide while false religions and cults take advantage of them to spread their heresies?
But Paul, the great church planter of the First century, gave us even stronger reasons for our tentmaking in the Twenty-first century. His timeless reasons will become more important as we near the end of history.
Where should you involve in Tentmaking?
In entry-restricted areas
Unreached Universities and campuses
How to be a successful Tentmaker?
- Be sure of God’s call – Need to understand the purpose of our lives and to be the light and salt of this world.
- Need to be spiritually qualified and develop a disciplined life – Before we involve in God’s missions, we need to be good disciples (Quiet time, prayer life, PBS) of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Develop social skills – we should be good communicators and understand the world with God’s perspective to meet the needs of the needy.
- Proper perspective on job and ministry – To be good stewards of job and ministry.
- Need professional qualifications. – Need to put our efforts to study well and to get good jobs.
Every believer has only one option: a cross-culture or a counterculture ministry. God called every believer to be His disciple and God wants us to involve in His mission in our own place (counterculture) or non-native (cross-culture).
The church needs thousands of Christian professional people to win souls for Christ, like engineers, scientists, businesspeople, health care workers, athletes, agriculturists, computer technicians, media specialists, and educators of all kinds who can integrate work and witness in the Twenty-first century as the Apostle Paul did in the First century. Mathew 9: 35-38 says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Prakash R J, Member Mission Department