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What is tentmaking?
 
The term comes from the life of Paul the apostle. At some stages in his ministry he worked as a tentmaker while he continued (part-time) to evangelize, preach and disciple in the churches he had planted. The key verse is Acts 18:3 :

 

After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. Paul approached them, and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade). He addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade them.
~ Acts 18: 1-4, NET Bible

 

The term tentmaking as used today really refers to a ministry model where no distinction is made between “'sacred” and “secular”. All of our work and all of us communicate something of God's love, so that almost any job which serves the community in some way can be a platform for reaching out to people with the good news of Jesus. The very excellence of our work, the way in which we as Christians relate to people on the job, and the high standards we apply speak to unbelievers about the God we follow. People who deliberately pursue their career overseas so that they can relate face to face with non-Christians are tentmakers.

 

The extent to which they are involved in "actual" ministry (e.g. doing Bible study, praying, discipling) will vary greatly depending on the kind of job, location and other constraints. But the intention to make disciples must be there. The fact that your company posts you overseas does not make you a tentmaker.

 

Why tentmaking?

 

The reality is that 80% or more of Asia can no longer be reached by “traditional” missionaries. Most countries simply refuse to issue visas to missionaries. They are not welcome. But professionals such as doctors, nurses, managers, IT specialists, linguists, engineers and other skilled workers are highly sought after in many nations.

 

A small number of Wesley members is already involved in tentmaking in various forms.

 

Can I be a tentmaker?

 

The answer to that question will be somewhat like the answer to the question: Am I called? Without a clear call, it is difficult to see how one can persevere in such a role. You would need as much prayer support and encouragement as a “regular” missionary.

Some specialized training is also highly desirable. Even more important is a “track record” of being a discipler here at home. If you have never led anyone to the Lord, or have never been involved in discipling anyone at home, going overseas is not going to make you an effective worker.
 
Please contact the PTM for Missions if you have questions or would like to know more.
 
For further reading, we strongly recommend a collection of articles found at:

http://www.tentmakernet.com/articles/index.html