Tentmaking Definition

Tentmaking Definition
Tentmaking Definition 2018-07-07T16:11:13+00:00

Agreed upon by  GC Total Employment, MENA, AFM, and Andrews Mission Department, 2015.

Into the Marketplace 

For centuries, Christians have promoted the model of the 12 disciples who gave up their professions to follow Jesus in active mission and ministry. Many enter Christian ministry today with the expectation that they are to abandon their trade to better focus on ministry. One’s trade is often perceived to be a hindrance to mission, not a facilitator. However, the Apostle Paul viewed his trade as an opportunity that enabled him to preach the Gospel in unreached cities free of any financial dependence on any supporting church or administrative structures. Furthermore, Paul’s trade as a tentmaker took him into the ancient marketplace – which was where not only goods and services were bought and sold, but where new ideas were shared, evaluated, and disseminated. Like the Apostle Paul, modern-day tentmakers use their professional skills to find employment in the modern marketplace, where once again the Everlasting Gospel can be shared and disseminated.

Why are SDA Tentmakers Needed?

The mission challenge is too large to be fulfilled by church employees—lay members are needed who will work in parallel with the organized church’s mission program. An increasing number of countries are hostile to the presence of overt Christian missionaries. However, many of these countries welcome skilled professionals to work within their borders.
Tentmaking leverages the financial resources of private and public sector employers worldwide to support SDA tentmakers in cross-cultural ministry. Cities are burgeoning, which demands a growing Adventist presence.  These metropolises are where economies are expanding, a skilled labor force is needed, mobility opens people to change, and increasing cross-cultural interaction takes place. 

What is an SDA Tentmaker?

  • Mission Minded – Has a deep sense of calling from God to mission.

  • Intentional Ministry – Intentionally and prayerfully seeks to develop relationships and nurture seekers for Christ cross-culturally.

  • Spiritually mature

  • Equipped and gifted – for cross-cultural ministry.

  • Living Abroad – May live in a restricted access country with a resident or work visa.

  • Secular Identity – Has a secular identity within their host culture.

  • Self Sustained – Is financed primarily through their professional labor.

What Relationship Do Tentmakers have with the Organized Church?.

SDA tentmakers cooperate wherever possible with the visible leadership of the SDA Church for prayerful counsel, mutual encouragement and personal equipping. In relation to the organized church organization, Tentmakers are:

Self-supporting lay members whose freedom to do mission is protected by their independence of any sponsoring organization, or corporate religious identity.

Faithful, participating members of a local (or the nearest) Adventist worshiping group
Willing to cooperate with the visible leadership of the SDA Church.

Jesus’ counsel to modern SDA Tentmakers

In Acts 18.9-10, Jesus appeared to the Apostle Paul and gave him a three-fold command (v. 9), followed by a three-fold promise (v. 10), commands and promises that are relevant for all SDA tentmaking missionaries today:

Command 1 – “Do not be afraid.” During persecution, Jesus commands His tentmakers, “Do not be afraid.”

Command 2 – “Go on speaking.” Tentmakers must not stop sharing the Gospel whether in public or in private.

Command 3 – “Do not be silent.” Tentmakers must not let discouragement silence their faithful witness.

Promise 1 – “I am with you.” As tentmakers engage in ministry, Jesus will constantly be with them.

Promise 2 – “No one will…harm you.” God will protect His tentmakers despite local community hostility.

Promise 3 – “I have many” people here. God has many honest seekers for truth wherever tentmakers are serving.

A Tentmaker’s core traits:

Intentionality:
• Recognizes that the highest purpose in the workplace is spiritual mission
• Leverages their professional skills to find employment for the purpose of mission
• Uses profession or trade to generate opportunities for sharing biblical values and truths
• Uses profession or trade to establish an Adventist presence in un-entered or limited access areas

Character:
• Understanding that the primary platform for effective witness in the workplace is personal reputation based on lifestyle, attitude, work ethic, relationships, spiritual maturity, integrity, etc.
• A prayerful openness to wait on God to reveal opportunities for personal witness
• Intercession on behalf of work colleagues, resident community (neighbors, friends, apartment complex, etc.), and host country (its prosperity, security, moral and spiritual elevation)
• Vocal faith and witness when and where appropriate.

Output:
• Relationships—showing personal interest and developing genuine friendships
• Networking—joining personal and community networks
• Home-based—being invited to the homes of resident community and work colleagues
• Fellowship—providing fellowship with spiritual content (in a home, restaurant, park, etc.)
• Service—meeting felt needs of host community members and colleagues
• Sharing—providing biblical discussions with those with receptive and open hearts
• Studying—studying biblical topics with those prepared to become acquainted with the Bible