Tentmaking is becoming an increasing reality for many cross-cultural missionaries. It is a beautiful expression of God’s heart that all peoples, tribes and tongues would hear the gospel message and receive Jesus as Lord. When the concept of a missionary joins a “normal” job — a bi-vocational missionary is born.

A Look at Tentmaking and Bi-Vocational Missionary Work

Being a tentmaker or bi-vocational means working a part- or full-time job. However, you still primarily see yourself as a missionary. Although every believer is called to take the gospel to others and live a life for Jesus, tentmakers and bi-vocational workers see themselves first and foremost as missionaries. The time spent reaching people with the Good News varies from one tentmaker to another. But identifying as a missionary is a key factor for all tentmakers and bi-vocational workers.

Tentmakers are not simply those interested in doing a little ministry or sharing the gospel from time to time. No, these workers are passionate about seeing Jesus worshiped by all peoples! They love being missionaries, wake up excited to take the Good News out and feel called by God to give their lives to his Kingdom through mission work. They just happen to also work a second job.

Let us take a look at how this plays out both at home and overseas.

Diaspora & Overseas Tentmaking and Bi-Vocational Missions

In America, tentmaking and bi-vocational missionary work provide the amazing opportunity to engage with diaspora people from around the globe. There is no denying that God is drawing people from many unreached nations here to the United States. He clearly wants them reached with the Good News.

Bi-vocational and tentmaking roles are important for overseas missionaries. This is especially true for those called to closed countries. Going under a missionary status or with a mission agency is not possible in many countries. However, a tentmaker can more easily enter closed countries. Once there, they will also have unprecedented opportunities to share the gospel.

Bi-Vocational Missionary Work in Scripture

The Bible is clear that tentmaking and bi-vocational ministry is a strategic plan God uses for certain individuals. Paul spent several seasons of his life as a tentmaker. Many are following in his footsteps today.

Paul provided for himself at certain times by making tents, but this was not his first priority. His calling and focus was always as a missionary first. As we look at Scripture, we see that Paul actually viewed tent making as a way to further the gospel.

In the same way, today’s tentmakers and bi-vocational missionaries have the same focus on mission work. But they also see their second job as a way to expand God’s Kingdom. There is excitement watching Jesus commission some of His people as tentmakers and bi-vocational workers. We recognize that, in the end, it is all about his worship and fame among the nations. Become a bi-vocational missionary worker with International Project!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. John Williams

    I often work in China training church workers. Do you have any of this important training material in the Chinese language? China is preparing to use ‘Tentmaking and Bi-Vocational Missionary Work’ to go into all the world to preach the gospel and plant churches. The Chinese church networks have told me they need these kinds of materials.

    1. Debra Proctor

      Hi John, Thank you for your faithfulness in carrying out the Great Commission! You can find resources for Discovery Bible Studies here. Unfortunately, these aren’t translated into Mandarin yet. Could one of your believers who is fluent in Mandarin and English, translate these lessons? If so, let us know and we will add it to our site.

      Also, T4T is the methodology most used by Tentmakers or bi-vocational workers for Church Planting Movements. Click here for the material in Mandarin.

      I hope this helps. Equip Missionary Training is very comprehensive and gives our trainees an immersive and hands-on-training program so they are fully equipped and ready to go to the mission field as a full-term or short-term missionary or as a tentmaker or bivocational missionary. Check out our program. You or one of the people you are working with in China may want to come and train here while doing hands-on ministry.

      God Bless you and your fellow Believers in your continuing work!

  2. Tent-Maker in Training

    Hi! I landed on this page because I am currently heavily involved with a non profit missions organization that is too small to have paid employees, and I am in the middle of a major life transition. I have finished Bible college and am about to move out on my own, and I feel as thought God is calling me to continue working with the non profit organization. This means both dedicating time during the work week to this ministry and being overseas without pay for several months every year. Therefore I am in need of supplemental income as I do not wish to raise 100% of my needed support throughout the year as a full-time missionary. Being bi-vocational seems like it fits my going-to-be lifestyle, however I am not sure where I can find sufficient work that is flexible enough to have time for mission work and long travel periods. Do you know of any places that will hire someone like me? I really only would need to be making around $25,000-$30,000 per year to live and save for the future. Any suggestions would be extremely helpful!

    1. IP Admin

      Hi! Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the delay in getting back in touch with you. If you will send us an email at info(a)internationalproject.org, we would be glad to talk with you about some options. God bless!

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