Is tent making really easier than deputation?

Most students do not consider how truly difficult it is to train to do a business well in a foreign country. If you are really going to be a tent maker then you might consider all the time you are going to have to put into really being a business man. Most preachers are poor businessmen.

You will also have to consider how much money you will need to raise to really establish a business overseas. What will it take to have more than a front. Some want to be real “tent makers” because they do not want to be deceptive when they get their visa.

So a real business, done “business like” that takes men in my church “half days” (as one of the men is famous for saying). He says there are 24 hours in a day aren’t there. So since he owns his own business he only has to work half days. Maybe you could get a job with a real company that has business interests in the country where you are going. How long will that take? What will they expect of you? Will they allow you to be fully involved in proselytizing or breaking the law as you evangelize?

Will you learn the language of the country so that you can ministry after work hours? When will you do so?

Will you be able to establish a real business that will support you? Most business in the USA need at least 3 years to make it. Most fail.

Can you really do all of this and get it done in less than 2 or 3 years?

Do you really want to spend 80% of your time on a business and only 20% on the ministry. You could just do deputation and then give 100% to ministry after 24 to 36 months. If you do not know how then get some training.

A friend sent me the following:

“The problem pointed out in the book “Tentmaking” by Patrick Lei is that one of two things happen:

  1. The tentmaker finds satisfaction in his secular business and does not realize the ministry goals he has set. This lulls him into a feeling of success because he’s a success at something but in the end the something he succeeded at really wasn’t what he set out to accomplish: the winning of the lost, the planting of churches, and the training of men for ministry.

  2. The tentmaker becomes very frustrated with his lack of productivity in ministry because of the demands of this business. He quits and returns to raise support or quits missions altogether.

My friend also said the following in another email:

“Just the other day I heard some say Tent Making was the way to go because deputation now takes 3-4 years. Think about the logic behind that. Because it will take 1 or 2 years longer than what we think deputation should, we are willing to give up 30 – 40 hours a week for the rest of our lives to avoid that scenery. When you see poor logic from seemingly logical people you know there is another motive in place.

When I meet people thinking that business is the primary means to support their mission I always run this scenario by them:

What business do you know that will pay you a good wage to travel around the US for 2 years preaching the Gospel and motivating 200-300 churches toward the Great Commission and then send you wherever it is you feel the Lord is leading you to go with the only requirement that you let them know on a monthly basis that you are sharing the Gospel and seeing advances in the area of pastor-training and church planting? What business do you know that would pay you for doing what you want to do anyway for the foreseeable future probably up to 40 or 50 years if you are interested in staying on board?

That would be a stinking awesome business plan for a missionary to get involved in. Its called deputation: the act of local churches banding together to deputize you as their representative to a foreign land to preach the Gospel.

It’s missions. Stop complaining. Every other plan is something else. ”

I don’t really think it could be better stated.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

Leave a Reply

Get Articles in Your Inbox