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2022-7&8

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작성자 TI 조회 1,241 작성일 22-07-01 15:11

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Go and make disciples
of all nations!


-Matt 28:19 NIV-
July and August, 2022.
TI Editorial

Tentmaking Missions and the Local Church




Jonny Chun
Executive Secretary of Tentmakers International

    In 2004, tentmakers, scholars, global TM experts, and mission leaders who attended the 2004 Lausanne Global Forum and joined the Tentmaking Mission Issue Group studied, shared, and discussed the present and future global tentmaking movement for about five weeks. And they issued the conclusion of the study on Global Tentmaking Missions. The following is about the relationship between tentmaking missions and the local church.
    Tentmakers have their roots deep in the life of the local church. To encourage and serve local churches in a cross-cultural setting means we need both experience in and commitment to local churches in the home setting.
    Within our discussion group, there was considerable diversity of experience and opinion regarding the shape of the local church. We all agreed however on some central issues that we need to face on the way to full participation in mission and missions from the whole people of God. This goes well beyond the world of tentmaking but provides the climate out of which true tent-making arises. As we worked together, we discussed five issues that are steps on the way to a true recognition of the whole people of God.
 

    The first issue was about calling. Who is called of God? A traditional perception of call tends to focus awareness of call on those engaged in pastoral ministry and career missions. We believe that the normal use of the term in Scripture refers to all of God's people, who are called to salvation, righteousness, and service. While we affirm and appreciate the experiences of many who have recognized God's leading to particular forms of service, we strongly affirm the belief that all of God's people are in fact called by Him to the work of the Kingdom.

 

    The second issue was the use of the term 'laity', referring to those who do not hold a formal leadership position in the church and who too easily, are seen as those who support the leadership in mission rather than engage in mission themselves. 
    We believe that it is biblically unjustified to set up a polarity between clergy and laity. Our understanding is that different gifts are given to the whole people of God and that indicates function and not status. We affirm the emphasis of Ephesians 4 in which gifts are distributed among God's people so that all may engage in ministry.

 

    The third issue was that of work. Work is God's creation and we work alongside our Lord and Creator in His creation. As in Christ, all things are made new, so in Christ, our work is made new and becomes a means of service in the Kingdom of God. Those engaged in tentmaking do so mostly through their work setting whether that be in paid or salaried employment or in business. Work is not separated from the mission but is deeply related to His kingdom ministry. We do not believe tentmaking missions done at workplaces are a mere entry point, a subversive detour around visa requirements, or a point of contact. A tentmaker's work should honor God in every way and form an integral part of their intentional mission.

 

    Fourthly, we asked the question as to where the mission takes place, whether it is primarily an activity within the gathered church and its programs, or whether it takes place amongst the people outside the church. We believe that the whole people of God take the whole gospel to the whole world and therefore mission is most authentically operating when God's people are amongst those people who need to hear that good news.

 

    Finally, we raised the question of the nature of the Kingdom of God. Too often we have confined our thinking to the activity of the church as the Body of Christ and failed to go on to recognize its task is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, as Christ our Lord did Himself. Therefore the task in tent-making is to see the larger picture of the role of the Church within communities and the structures which operate within those communities. This is the picture of the Church we have as we look to stimulate the world's tentmaking workforce. This emerged from our own discussions as a group even when we disagreed on the ideal forms in which this might be expressed.

    Tentmaking is one part of this greater whole. Tentmakers emerge within the life of the local church, learning their faith and their mission mandate in the home setting. It is rare for people to succeed as tentmakers across cultures who have not first engaged with the issues of integrity, mission, and love for neighbors in the home setting.
    For these reasons also, tentmaking forms an integral part of the total world mission scene, working in partnership with and support of those who are engaged in mission through traditional mission structures. Just as the church at home consists of people of many roles and functions and includes some engaged occupationally within church roles, so mission across cultures also includes the whole range of people who work towards the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ and the extension of the Kingdom of God.

Tentmaker's story

When tentmakers return


                                     Ari Rocklin by

from tentmaking today

    What happens when tentmakers return home after their job contracts have ended and their work visas have expired? In my 22 years of mobilizing tentmakers through mentoring, equipping and follow up, most end up off the radar which makes it hard to track their journeys. It is an unfortunate part of this ministry as the relationships that get built during the process are valuable.
 

Here are some of the stories of returned tentmakers

 

    Some attend further tentmaker training courses and are urgently wanting to return to a new job so they can continue their mission. The return to the field rate is fairly high among them.

    Most do not return. Many are disappointed in themselves feeling they have failed and have nothing to share about their time abroad. Yet, there are many stories of how God has taken the seeds that have been planted and made something miraculous. Discipleship movements have started even though the tentmaker has no recollection of having had a faith conversation with anyone. But that is another story.
 

God sends them to us

 

    One tentmaker who had been in the country long enough to get fluent in the local language was kicked out of a closed country for passing on a Christian book. He was devastated and had to return home.

    Many years later, people from that culture and language group started arriving as refugees to the tentmaker’s own country. These people did not speak any other language except their own. The returned tentmaker started working with these refugees as an interpreter and helping them settle. He was also instrumental in getting Scriptures translated into their language.

    It is widely known that during their first months in a new country, refugees are most open to the Gospel. There are hundreds of churches in Europe that have been started among refugees from many countries.

    As someone has said, we couldn’t go to them, so God sent them to us.
 

Equipping the next generation

 

    Other tentmakers have joined training teams and are now teaching new ones to get ready.

    Most, if not all, have a profound sense of the urgency for mission work among the unreached and are involved in their churches and others have joined mission agencies to mobilize others.

    God is not finished

    God is not finished with us even when our own evaluations of ministry success are limited to human understanding.

Bringing Jesus to your workplace


                                                            Steinar Opheim by from tentmaking today

Ask an average group of Christians how many of them are in full-time ministry for Jesus. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, it is only those who work for churches or Christian organizations that raise their hands. 

Multiple ways of bringing Jesus to your workplace

 

    Do you think that bringing faith to work mainly means that you must use your lunch breaks and other opportunities to speak about Jesus? Here are some additional perspectives that it may be good to grasp.
 

    I attended a faith-at-work seminar recently. The speaker was engaging, and the audience responded well. The message was however just fueling the common idea that work is secular. Through Jesus we were told that it can be given a divine touch, though.

    More than 30 years after Dough Sherman and William D Hendricks authored “Your Work Matters to God”, most Christians do not sense that their regular work really is of any value to him. Just ask an average group of Christians how many of them are in full-time ministry for Jesus. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, it is only those who work for churches or Christian organizations that raise their hands. 
 

A dream

 

    Many years ago, I had a dream on how people’s work identity could change. The dream had a prehistory. My wife and I had been working in a Central-Asian nation. We visited our sending church every time we came to Norway. The church prayed like they do many places:

    “Father, we pray for all those who are sent out by this church…” Then followed a list of names. We were on the list and thus got a confirmation that we were among the sent ones. The situation of course changed when we moved back from Central-Asia. The church prayed in the same way, but we were no longer on the list. Our conclusion was now negative. We were no longer among those who were sent.

    In my dream I saw the whole church being sent out profession by profession:

    “Father, today we pray for all the teachers in our church, and we send them out to their workplaces. Help them to be good ambassadors for you as they teach the children and relate to their parents. We also pray and send out all the lawyers. Help them to fight for justice as you intended.” 

    From there it moved on until everyone in the church were covered. Students were in addition sent to their places of study, and retirees and those unemployed were sent out to their communities. The prayers gave identity, and over time everyone realized that they were in full-time ministry for Jesus wherever they were.
 

Six ways for serving

 

    Eight years ago the British author and then leader of London Institute of Contemporary Christianity (LICC), published the book Fruitfulness on the Frontline: Making a Difference Where You Are. The book focuses on six Ms for how we can serve Jesus through our work. Here they are:

•      Model godly character

•      Make good work

•      Minister grace and love

•      Mold the culture

•      Mouthpiece for truth and justice

•      Messenger of the gospel
 

Another Resource

 

    Another book that can bring new perspectives on faith at work, is Doug Spada’s Monday Morning Atheist. The author points out the following seven ways of bringing Jesus to our workplaces. 

•      Pray for three people you work with

•      Begin your day with God

•      Commit to a higher standard of work

•      Cut out complaints

•      Go the extra mile

•      Cultivate gratitude

•      Be slow to anger

    Do you want more inspiration? Visit The Theology of Work Project and read “10 Key Points About Work in the Bible Every Christian Should Know” or one of the other inspiring articles you can find at http://www.theologyofwork.org.

    May God bless you as you serve him full-time through your work where you are today. Contact Tentmaking Today if you want to serve him through your profession in another culture or nation.