Are You Ready? 20 Questions on Tentmaker Readiness
The Tentmaker’s Preperation Checklist
Preparation Needed and How To Get It
The Tentmaker’s Work
- Choose a vocation considering your aptitudes, gifts, interests, what is helpful in a needy world, what skills are marketable and what will support a family.
- Vocations needed most are education (TEFL, math, science, teacher education, curriculum development), science and engineering, computer science, business and finance, health care, agriculture, business development, and operating a business.
- Background job research. Use the Internet to research the kinds of jobs needed related to your vocation, the credentials required, the companies and organizations involved, and how to customize your resume or CV to fit openings. This research can help you determine where you might need additional training and experience.
- Degrees needed. Most positions require at least a Bachelor’s Degree. Many require more. Requirements are rising. Sometimes experience counts more than a degree. The exception is TEFL which often accepts any native English speaker. As Christians our goal is to genuinely serve people well and bring honor to Christ.
- Experience required. Besides some entry-level jobs, you generally need two or more years experience. Employers are also looking for successful cross-cultural experience. You can use work study programs, internships abroad, multinational organizations, Peace Corps, the Mennonite Central Committee, etc.
- Terms of employment usually include round trip travel for the family, good salaries and health insurance, sometimes housing and schooling for the children.
- Language learning. Many positions abroad are in English, yet learning a local language will enhance your cultural adjustment, gain the confidence of local people, and help to sensitively share the gospel.
- Finding employment. Consult your own college department, professional journals, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and the Global Opportunities web site. Network with people and befriend internationals.
- Starting your own business can demonstrate Christian values and give needy people jobs. But you usually need experience, capital, and far more hours than a salaried position. Red tape and excessive taxation are problems too.
- More practical skills such as cooking, sewing, homemaking, home maintenance and auto repair enhance daily living. Practical skills can help you make friends in another culture and earn the right to talk about the Lord.
- Recreational skills. Sports and hobbies are also valuable bridges for friendship and sharing the good news.
Spiritual preparation to live out & share the gospel.
- Relationship with God. Everything flows from the quality of your relationship with God. How are you doing at being filled and renewed daily through time alone with God in devotional reading and prayer.
- Relationship with family. You will face great stress in a new culture. Work proactively on your family life: read, attend seminars, and seek counsel from sharp, godly couples. How healthy is your marriage and family and how well prepared are you for the stress of cross-cultural work and witness?
- Relationship with work. Work is central to human beings created in the image of God. God is the great worker and we were designed to be co-workers with him and rulers under him to manage and care for the world. Thus legitimate work in itself is meant to be a sacred, God-honoring activity through which we “feel God’s pleasure.” We are called to honor Christ through our servanthood toward employers, customers, co-workers, and the larger community. Excellence, ethical integrity, genuine caring, Kingdom values, and natural, meaningful witness should mark us as Christians. We should also be engaging and impacting the thought world of our vocation. How well do we understand the areas of honoring Christ in work and how well do we practice them?
- Relationships with others. Team building and conflict resolution skills help work together, overcome disunity, and put common goals first. How much of a team player are you? How well do you do conflict resolution and ongoing cooperation?
- Bible knowledge. How would you summarize the whole Bible in a few sentences? How many books of the Bible can you summarize? What O.T. prophecies about Jesus were fulfilled in the N.T.?
- Bible memorization is a good way to have your sword always ready. Then the Holy Spirit can help you recall them at crucial moments and locate them in your foreign language Bible.
- Inductive Bible study skills observe what the passage really says and interpret what the writer meant with application for today. How effective are you in Bible study, especially in discovering what the writer is doing in a passage?
- Leading Bible study discussions inductively, whether evangelistic or for discipling and fellowship. Ask questions to help participants discover and draw conclusions from the details. Adapt your leadership to nonbelievers. How effectively can you lead a group to discover the message of a text versus telling them what it says? And how well do you lead a group to respond to and act on the truth?
- Evangelismm – learn to fish. Tentmakers answer questions about God from seekers made hungry for God by observing Christians around them – their integrity, quality work, caring relationships and words about God. How effective are you in the workplace? In each of these areas?
- Investigative Bible studies for nonbelievers are discussions of Gospel narratives. Participants answer questions about the text. They discover who Jesus really is and commit themselves to him. How effectively can you lead a group to discover the truth of a passage for themselves without telling them what it says? How effective are you in understanding the author’s purpose in a text and in preparing questions to lead people through a text?
- Christian doctrine. Learn the main Christian doctrines as propositions with supporting passages. What would you include in a half-hour talk about God? Or justification by faith? Or the incarnation of Jesus?
- Defending the faith when your Christian beliefs are challenged. How do you answer that there is no God? Or there are 33 million of them? That all religions are basically the same? That the Bible is not true?
- Church-planting and other ministries. Self-reproducing, indigenous churches are the ultimate goal. How ready are you to start one? To lead people to Christ and disciple them in a group and coach them into becoming a church which is led by the local people from the outset? What do you know about baptism, communion, church leadership? Can you preach, teach children, or sing?
- Spiritual warfare. Sin and temptation assault us also through the evil world system and our own sinful vulnerability. We must put on the full armor of God. How prepared are you to maintain your focus and spiritual vitality in an alien culture, with minimal support, and many pressures?
- Missions training including the biblical basis of missions, its history, geography, growth, trends, issues, strategies, mistakes to avoid, current ideas, cross-cultural living and witness.
Where to prepare
- Christian institutions offer science and philosophy, etc., from a Christian viewpoint and a wide variety of Bible, theology and missions courses.
- Secular universities/colleges have better name recognition overseas and offer a whole range of careers. The secular campus is one of the best training grounds in the world. Throw yourself into the campus Christian fellowship and it’s training. You are already on your first mission field.
- Why not combine schools? The best academic and spiritual training can occur on a secular campus, supplemented with Christian training courses.
- Financing your education. For ways to avoid being burdened with debts, see our GO Paper, Students and Graduates: Financing an Education.
- How long will it take? All of the pieces mentioned above can be fit into four or five years, if you take advantage of all the learning opportunities