“Gary” earned a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis on TESOL, then taught English in Iran, learned Farsi, and, with his wife, drew Iranians to Christ. After the Shah fell, he taught Iranians and other Farsi speakers in other countries including the U.S. Now “retired,” he and his wife continue to disciple Iranians through hospitality, Bible study, and personal friendship.
“Les” moved with “Debbie” to Saudi Arabia. There he did power engineering and reached out to colleagues through hospitality, friendship, and professional mentoring.
“Darren” worked for a Chinese electronics company in China and discipled young Chinese leaders in a large local church. He helped them develop the first English speaking service legally open to expats. Now that these leaders have significantly matured, he is investigating ways to do something similar in India.
Other tentmakers have brought agricultural-business development to N. Korea. Another introduced emergency medicine training into a majority Muslim nation in Asia. His initial trainees are now teaching emergency medicine to junior doctors and medical students in over ten medical schools around the country. Yet another, a Great Commission lawyer from Latin American has helped a major Asian nation develop a new and more just constitution. And all these have born witness to Christ and his great offer of grace.
God has always used self-supporting, cross-cultural, workplace witnesses—tentmakers like the apostle Paul!
Christianity traveled through businessmen, soldiers, students, teachers, refugees, pilgrims, doctors, lawyers, prisoners, slaves and hostages, Christian lay people of all kinds: bearers of the Christian message as they traveled. So largely, expansion was not the work of pastors, but of Christian men and women in their ordinary routines of life. — David Wright (condensed)
God is using Christians from almost every imaginable profession to live among people of other cultures in order to incarnate Christ, tell the story of his saving work, and make disciples. This option is wide-open to every non-religious profession. Nations welcome workers with needed expertise and products to work within their borders.
Integrating this model simply extends the vision of any Christian professional organization to embrace Christ’s global mandate of making disciples of all peoples. It makes God’s global purposes a much greater reality. Imagine the widening of impact and blessing through your organization. Imagine the deepening of vision and discipleship among members.
We must be global people with a global vision, because our God is a global God. —John R. W. Stott
Some professional organizations are already doing this, primarily on a short-term basis. But using professional expertise to go as a tentmaker opens the door to living among another people, demonstrating the gospel, making disciples, and extending the church within that people group.
Building Tentmaking into the Organization
It’s not all that complicated to build this vision into a Christian professional organization, but it requires leadership to carry the torch and implant it into the organization. Here are a few key steps to start.
- Find a group of people within the organization who buy into the vision and build yourselves into a tentmaking propagation team. Read, study, and discuss key tentmaking articles together like Global Opportunities’ (GO’s) Tentmaking 101. Consider subscribing to Tentmaking Briefs for ongoing input and stimulation. Begin praying together for God to lead and to work.
- Educate and motivate through various venues and means within the organization—newsletters, articles, seminars at organizational meetings, personal communication, advice, and encouragement, social media, etc. Find members who have gone as tentmakers. Tell their stories and have them tell their stories when possible, especially ones who are effective.
- Get tentmaker training, like GO’s GO Equipped! tentmaking course.
- As individuals and the organization embrace the vision, begin building it into the structures and life of the organization. For instance, build a regular section into your newsletter. Have a commissioning time at meetings for lay hands on and pray for those going as tentmakers. Build in some kind of tentmaker reporting mechanism and prayer for them.