Tentmaking: The Way of Missions in the Twenty-first Century

Many believe that tentmaking is the future of world missions.

In the last twenty years most churches, mission agencies and denominations have come to the conclusion that tentmaking missions is the future of world evangelism. The doors for traditional missionaries are closed in many countries, but the doors for tentmakers are opening rapidly. In many countries, the desire to learn both Western technology and the English language—coupled with the impact of globalization—has made more countries than ever open their doors. Tentmaking has greatly benefited from the rapid spread of the Marketplace Theology movement, which has mobilized lay people around the world for ministry in their own communities.

History of Tentmakers International
Tentmakers International (TI; formerly known as TIE) was formed shortly after the 1989 Lausanne II meeting in Manila. Participants of the tentmaking track there did not want to lose the benefits that came from interacting with other tentmakers. In 1992 several international observers were invited to come together for the organizational meeting of USAT (INTENT) in Glorietta, New Mexico, USA. From that, the first TI (TIE) Congress was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 1993. Delegates from fifteen countries met for five days. Dr. Christy Wilson, author of Today’s Tentmakers, delivered the challenge to work together and learn from each other. Model projects from Galcom in Israel and E-Land in Korea were examined. Much networking has resulted in strategic alliances being formed among participants. Later conferences included:

  • 1997. The second TI Congress in Melbourne, Australia.
  • 1999. The third TI Congress was held in Capetown, South Africa.
  • 2002. The fourth TI Congress was held in South Korea.

Through the benevolence of Mission to Unreached Peoples, based in Seattle, Washington, USA, and several individuals, Tentmakers International has also published regular newsletters.

The leadership of Tentmakers International is truly international. Former TI international directors include John Cox, Berit Kloster and Danny Martin. The current chairman, Derek Christensen, is from New Zealand and the executive general secretary, Johnny Chun, is from South Korea. In addition to their responsibilities on the TI board, each of the board members also play very important individual roles in the global tentmaking movement through speaking at conferences and churches around the world. They also invest their time helping upcoming tentmakers in their ministries.

The leadership of Tentmakers International is truly international.

The vision of TI is to promote the concept of “tentmaking as mission” and to serve national tentmaker associations, denominational groups and vocational and professional associations around the world. TI helps with the formation of such groups by the exchange of ideas, information and opportunities and through identifying needs and resources. TI serves as a clearinghouse for information on and sources for training and equipping tentmaker trainers to enable vocationally-skilled Christians worldwide to minister cross-culturally.

Upcoming Conferences
In line with the nature of Tentmakers International, there are two major conferences planned for 2007. The first will be the fifth International Tentmaker Conference 9-11 July 2007 in Malaysia. People from all over the world will come together to network, be equipped and be encouraged in their tentmaking ministries. Some of the issues that will be covered include: the challenge of unreached peoples, business as mission, politics and the role of Christians, sports as “global language” and disaster and crises relief.

The second conference is the All-Africa TI Conference 16-19 August 2007 in Bamako, Mali. The conference is designed to develop the tentmaker strategy of evangelism in Africa, and to train lay people to share their faith in the context of their vocations to the unreached peoples within their respective nations. There are now over twenty-five nations involved in the conference planning. For more information on upcoming conferences, visit www.tentmakersinternational.com.

Tentmakers International strives to ultimately be true to Jesus’ last commandment to go into all the world and to make disciples.

Johnny Chun is executive secretary of Tentmakers International. He is also executive director of Mission International and former director of the Korea Association of Tentmakers (KAT).