A Definition of Tentmaking


SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CROSS-CULTURAL MARKETPLACE MISSION
 
The imperative of intentional, loving and gracious cross-cultural mission is reflected in the mission statement of the Adventist Church, which states that, “The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church is to make disciples of all people, communicating the Everlasting Gospel in the context of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14.6-12, leading them to accept Jesus as personal Savior and unite with His remnant Church, discipling them to serve Him as Lord, and preparing them for His soon return.”
 
Thus, raised by God with a prophetic self-identity as God’s end-time movement to proclaim the Everlasting Gospel to every nation, tribe, language and people (Rev. 14.6), the SDA Church is structured for worldwide mission (Matt. 28.19-20), seeking to proclaim the Everlasting Gospel "throughout the world, as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24.14, NRSV).
 
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.
 
What Are the Qualities of a Seventh-day Adventist Tentmaker?
 
A tentmaker is a born-again disciple of Jesus Christ who--

Preparation:

  • Has a deep sense of calling from God to mission.
  • Intentionally and prayerfully seeks to develop relationships and nurture seekers for Christ cross-culturally.
  • Is spiritually mature.
  • Is equipped and gifted for cross-cultural ministry.
  • May live in a restricted access country with a resident or work visa.
  • Has a secular identity within their host culture.
  • Is financed primarily through their professional labor.

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 their profession or trade to generate opportunities for sharing biblical values and truths.
  • Uses their profession or trade to establish an Adventist presence in un-entered or limited access areas.

Character:

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

Output:

  • Relationships—shows personal interest and developing genuine friendships.
  • Networking—joins personal and community networks.
  • Home-based—accepts invitations to the homes of resident community and work colleagues.
  • Fellowship—provides fellowship with spiritual content (in a home, restaurant, park.
  • Service—meets felt needs of host community members and colleagues.
  • Sharing—provides biblical discussions with those with receptive and open hearts.
  • Studying—studies biblical topics with those prepared to become acquainted with the Bible


Why are Seventh-day Adventist Tentmakers Needed?
 
The above mission challenge is too large to be fulfilled by church employees.  ay 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 Relationship do Tentmakers have with the Organized Church?
 
Seventh-day Adventist tentmakers cooperate wherever possible with the visible leadership of the Adventist 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 nearby Adventist worshiping group.
  • Willing to cooperate with the visible leadership of the SDA Church.


MENA TE Document 2