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tentmaking-FAQs

Questions about tentmaking


4 1. What is a tentmaker?
4 2. Why is it called tentmaking?
4 3. Are there different types of tentmakers?
4 4. Where can I find out more of what tentmaking is about?
4 5. Do I have to be part of a Christian mission agency?
4 6. How can I find out about tentmaking opportunities?
4 7. Can anyone help me in understanding and preparation?
4 8. Where can I get suitable training?
4 9. What about distance learning courses?

1. What is a tentmaker?

Someone who uses their skills (professional, business, or trade skills) to work for a living in a cross cultural situation and to witness for Christ in their daily lives.

Some would narrow this definition to mission-motivated Christians who find employment in other countries and in different cultures with the specific objective of helping with evangelism, church planting, and encouraging local believers. This definition would exclude many who work abroad whose main focus is employment rather than mission.

However, there are many Christians who want to use their God-given gifts in jobs abroad and also, while they are there, to do all they can to proclaim the Gospel through their lives and work. We want to include these in the definition and in what CV seeks to provide.

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2. Why is it called tentmaking?

This is based on the example of the Apostle Paul, who made tents in order to support his mission activities.

In Acts 18 and 21 we get an insight into Paul engaging in his trade, in order that he and his colleagues could be self sufficient. He told his infant churches that he chose not to burden them, but rather be a 'model to hard work' and to 'imitate' Christ. He believed he had a right to expect gifts (1 Cor 9) but was concerned for the sake of his credibility and integrity not to be misunderstood. But he was flexible. He did at other times preach full time and received gifts of support.

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3. Are there different types of tentmakers?

Christians are engaged in tentmaking in different ways. For example:

  1. Those whose employment takes them to a different country. In today's world, people are spread throughout the world in many professions, including the Diplomatic Service, education, health, engineering, banking, technology, business, etc, as well as many study opportunities. If Christian in such circumstances take their faith seriously, wherever they find themselves they would be able to sensitively share their faith and encourage other believers.

  2. Some Christians with specific skills can find themselves being used not to fill particular employment needs, but to provide expertise, advice, training and stimulus to nationals in their attempt to establish viable businesses, education systems, relief and development programmes, volunteer schemes e.g. VSO etc. All this provides a great platform for opportunities to establish a witness for Christ.

  3. Others start from the premise that God has called them to 'go and tell' people of all nations. To achieve this in some regions of the world where traditional mission roles are not welcome or available, tentmaking provides the only viable platform to fulfil their calling.

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4. Where can I find out more of what tentmaking is about?

There are various ways to gain a fuller understanding about this vital role in world mission today.

  • A forum of those engaged in such activities put together a short (15 mins) explanatory DVD called "tentmaking: A Way of Life", which is available from Global Connections at 3.50.

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    5. Do I have to be part of a Christian mission agency?

    No. Some find normal employment openings the best channel. However, not everyone is called to this type of role or equipped for it. There is something to be said for going overseas with an Agency for the first time, as they can give guidance, support and encouragement. In any case we recommend talking with agencies that have experience in the geographical area of your interest, to gain from their wisdom, and to have access to a suitable network for vital practical and spiritual support.

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    6. How can I find out about tentmaking opportunities?

    On this site. There are hundreds of openings internationally for mission personnel, some in the role of tentmakers. By searching this site using the keyword tentmaking, you'll get an idea of what's there. (Search opportunities). Visit sites of other agencies to get more information. A few of those utilising tentmakers include: AM, Frontiers, Interserve, Operation Mobilisation (OM), OMF, SIM, YWAM. Or talk with organisations you are familiar with about this concept and how they might be able to link you with needs worldwide.

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    7. Can anyone help me in understanding and preparation?

    Yes. There are various people who would be happy to help you reflect on this issue. Why not contact Global Connections to ask for help in this?

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    8. Where can I get suitable training?

    In addition to Bible college courses, there are organisations that run suitable short courses e.g. Redcliffe College in Gloucester. Get in touch with Global Connections and they will try to help you, or contact the colleges direct.

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    9. What about distance learning courses?

    We suggest that you undertake a course "Working your Way to the Nations", which has been released on-line. Log on to mywaytothenations.com. The course provides a systematic discussion and evaluation of qualities and competencies needed for effective cross-cultural service. It leads you to create a specific tailor-made plan to become effective under the guidance of a mentor.

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