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What Is Tentmaking?

How would you finish the sentence?  

Tentmaking is…

In the world of Adventist missions, tentmaking is a relatively new concept. Historically, most Adventist mission workers have been employed by the church organization. Educational and medical facilities, publishing facilities, administrative offices–all institutional presence–have usually been the base for cross-cultural and indigenous staff who are provided income,  allowances,  and other living benefits. 

But tentmaking is different. Very different. First,  it is self-supporting. That means, like Paul making tents in Corinth, the tentmaker supports their mission with an income-producing skill or profession. Their advantage over a traditional missionary?  They are closely networked within a secular workplace, and relate to a cross-section of people and needs that an institution would never reach.

The tentmaker’s role,  then, is life-encompassing, often cross-cultural, long-term, self-sacrificing, and spiritually motivated. In countries where religious activity is limited or even illegal, the tentmaker is God’s presence in person where no  church is allowed. Sometimes the tentmaker has likeminded believers in the region to share fellowship and inspiration, sometimes tentmaking is to live a singular witness in an unreached world.

Tentmaking is possible from countless possible platforms. A tentmaker may be an employee of an international company.  A teacher in an educational facility. A language school instructor. A nurse. An engineer. An artist. An independent businessman.

God’s Call

Always, tentmaking is God’s call.  As you consider investing your profession in a far-off world, you are not just looking for a job.  You are watching and  listening for God’s place for you,  for His call.  For your tentmaking  employment to happen any other way makes your assignment just another job.  For it to happen under God’s leading makes the tentmaker a missionary in the highest sense.