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Biblical “Tentmaking”…

by Joe Carroll

Biblical “Tentmaking”… What is it and can I be one?

My dear Nigerian friend, Godfrey Olise, teaches young professionals in Africa to be “tentmaking” missionaries.  “Tentmaking” is patterned after the Apostle Paul’s example of being a missionary in Corinth while he supported himself making tents.

Godfrey believes “tentmakers “…are Christians who have personalized the mandate of preaching the gospel and consider their location on the planet earth, their job, their privileges, and everything they are and have as being tools for extending Christ’s kingdom.”

There is no reason why you can’t be a tentmaking missionary in your vocation.  These 5 characteristics exemplify the mindset of a Biblical tentmaker

  • Taking Responsibility for Your Calling:  Personally accept your responsibility as a called ambassador of Jesus Christ. The moment Christ came into your life you were “called” as his representative to the people in your life (2 Cor. 5:20).  There is no need to be waiting to be “called”.  You already have been.  Where you work is not your pastor’s responsibility.  It is yours.
  • Believing the Sanctity of Work:  Biblical tentmaking does not diminish the value God has placed on work.  God created work.  Work is divinely instituted for the care and cultivation of God’s creation (Genesis 2:15).   As a result, you are not a “2nd class Christian” if you are not serving in a church or mission organization.  Your work matters to God and in your work, you are blessed with the opportunity to be His image bearer in your vocational responsibilities and relationships.
  • Being Gospel Focused:  Biblical tentmakers don’t get sidetracked on secondary issues but keep the “good news” of Christ’s redemptive message as their priority in words, actions, plans and motivations (2 Corinthians 4:5).
  • Living Culturally Deferent:  Tentmaking is no longer about going to another country.  Our current pluralistic culture requires us to live in “Biblical deference” among those who do not align with our personal opinions, status, politics, or ethnicity.  This isn’t about compromising but focused on “culturally connecting”.  Paul modeled this when he said, “I have become all things to all people so that I may by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22 NASB).
  • Exemplifying Vocational Credibility:  Biblical tentmakers work productively (Titus 3:14) with honor and respect (I Peter 2:17).  Their work focuses on excellence (Philippians 4:8) and service with a humble attitude (Luke 17:16) 18-19

[1] Godfrey Olise, Professionals In Advancing The Kingdom (Africa Professional Resource Mission (Abuja Nigeria. 2020), 18-19.