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TI: the international tentmaking movement
World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission
Code of Best Practice for Tentmaking Organizations
The Code of Best Practice for Tentmaking Organizations has been designed as a benchmark document to guide the policies and practices of organizations and individuals involved in tentmaking missions. It is not intended to establish legal standards or liability. Rather, it is written to encourage the effectiveness of tentmaking organizations throughout the world.
It is a Code of Best Practice. It is based upon a foundational belief that ordinary Christians can worship and serve God through their work. What we do, where we do it, and how we accomplish our tasks all reflect the fact that all believers are called to serve God through their vocations, and are gifted by God to accomplish all that they are called to be and do. Tentmaking is the primary method whereby the Great Commission is being fulfilled among peoples located in countries that prohibit the traditional missionary approach. It is also God’s way of getting every believer to witness through work.
It is recognized that not every situation permits a literal application of every element of the Code. Tentmaking is such a broad field that generalizations are required in order to develop common standards. This Code was authored originally by Dr. Danny Martin, TI’s International Director, and developed consensually by the TI Board beginning with our meetings with the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance in Vancouver, Canada in June, 2003.
Core Values which underlie this Code of Best Practice include the following:
A commitment to the creative and expressive abilities given by God through Christ to every person created in His image.
A commitment to the value of work which was given to humans by God as a gift prior to the fall.
A commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment as given to the entire church by the Lord Jesus Christ.
A commitment to reliance upon God who chooses to do much of His work through His people.
A commitment to cooperation, collaboration and partnership whereby the entire Body of Christ works together across racial, national and denominational lines.
A commitment to the wholeness of mankind, resulting in the necessity of ministry to both physical and spiritual needs.
A commitment to ongoing biblical reflection on the issue of ethics in the workplace.
A commitment to love, justice and mercy and to integrity and character as the basis for witness through work.
A commitment by each believer to encourage and mobilize other believers to become involved in ministry.
A commitment to training of all Christians in effective ministry through discipleship.
A commitment to member care for all tentmakers with consistency, excellence, and high standards of ethical, spiritual and moral responsibility.
A commitment to all the stakeholders in tentmaking; the sending church, the mission agency, international churches, the host church and community, and the tentmakers themselves.
Section 1: Organizational Policies and Practices
Principle 1. Policies for all tentmakers within an organization are effective, efficient, agreed-upon and transparent.
1. Leaders in the organization embrace a theology of work and marketplace ministry that equally values all Christians in ministry.
2. Leaders monitor the implementation of policies and action plans agreed upon by tentmakers.
3. Tentmakers have clear ministry objectives and performance standards, know to whom they report and know what (if anything) is provided by the organization.
4. Policies are developed with equal regard for both individual and organizational needs.
Principle 2. Members and leaders must agree upon rules of conduct and belief which are essential to effective ministry.
1. Through member input, the organization has developed consistent and acceptable standards for conduct and belief.
2. The organization has clearly communicated and reinforced these standards to its members.
3. Leadership is consistent in its application of these standards.
4. Consequences of unacceptable behavior are consistently stated and enforced.
5. Any appeal processes must be clearly stated and carried out in a timely manner.
6. Grace in non-essentials is normative.
Section 2: Selection and Training
Principle 3: Candidate selection is comprehensive and in the best interest of both the candidate and the organization.
The organization creates a thorough and objective candidate selection process.
The selection process may include psychological and physical evaluations.
The process, including approximate time-lines and decision points is clearly explained to candidates and confirmed in writing.
The candidate’s church is a full partner in this process.
Principle 4: Placement is done in light of the candidate’s preferences, expertise, interests and team-fit.
Leadership communicates thorough information about any potential placements with the candidate during processing.
Spousal and family considerations are taken into account during placement.
Input from future team members is considered during placement.
The candidate’s financial situation is clearly communicated with leadership and is a factor in placement.
Work and ministry plans and evaluations are agreed upon prior to placement.
Principle 5: Appropriate training and orientation is provided for candidates.
1. Plans for language and cultural study are included in the placement plan.
2. Ongoing education requirements for professionals are taken into account.
3. Teambuilding activities are conducted throughout placement.
4. OpportuniTIes for professional advancement through additional formal education are considered.
5. On-going leadership development is designed by the organization.
6. Appropriate levels of biblical, theological, and missiological training are also made available.
Principle 6: Tentmakers will have defined purposes for their time overseas.
They must be able to enunciate clear objectives related to their job.
They must have clear and realistic aims for their ministry.
They must also be able to state objectives for their family life, personal growth and recreation.
They must also have clear objectives relating to their local and sending churches.
They should be able to state their relational and networking goals with other tentmakers and missionaries.
Section 3: Work Environments
Principle 7: Bringing work and ministry together is the focus of the tentmaker.
1. Work will be conducted in an ethical manner. Personal integrity will not be sacrificed for personal or corporate gain.
2. The tentmaker will take every opportunity to look for people in trouble, and will minister to them.
3. Work, in and of itself, has intrinsic value both in the eyes of God and in the life of the host community.
Principle 8: Christian entrepreneurs and managers reflect Christ through their businesses.
1. If in an entrepreneurial or management role, the tentmaker seeks to balance such issues as job creation, profit and quality.
2. Employees feel respected and valued by management.
3. Services and products reflect the kind of quality worthy of a Christian company.
Section 4: Re-entry
Principle 9: Re-entry services are provided for the tentmaker by the sending organization.
1. The tentmakers are debriefed regarding family, job and ministry concerns soon after their arrival back home.
2. The agency maintains contact and support for returned tentmakers until they have fully adjusted to home life.
3. If on furlough or vacation, their need for renewal, education, and family time are balanced with family and financial concerns.
4. OpportuniTIes for ministry as well as personal growth are considered.
5. Job counseling and redeployment is provided.
6. Evaluations of sending organization, sending church and host organization are completed by the tentmaker as preparation for debriefing.
Aquila and Priscilla, like all Jews of whatever station in life, were trained in a craft. In their case it was tentmaking – the same trade as that of the apostle Paul. (Acts 18) They were living in Rome when the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from the city. We don’t know whether or not they were Christians at the time, but we do know they decided to settle in Corinth and continue their trade there. When the apostle Paul arrived in Corinth he soon met up with them, but no doubt on a business footing at first. Within a few weeks of his arrival Aquila and Priscilla had become very committed Christians, and they benefited from the hospitality they extended to him by receiving an 18 month training course in evangelism and church planting. The real genius of guidance is not so much what happens to us, but what we do with what happens.
Edward Eddy once said “the worst thing that can happen to a Christian is to lose a sense of adventure”. Today’s “tentmakers” are Christians who have realised that their chosen careers are just part of a wonderful adventure with God – all part of His guidance.
Travel from the 1st century to the 21st century and we find we have thousands of Christians all over the world, travelling to non- Christian Countries as contract workers, domestics, skilled technicians, representatives of companies, banks, educationalists, and many involved in their own business developments. The Holy Spirit of God is using this new deployment of Christians in much the same way as he used the dispersion of the Jews in the first century. For those Jewish Christians their trades were platforms for evangelism. TI believes we should follow their examples.
Most successful things happen when the time is ripe. Jesus came “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4): the time was ripe – God had prepared the way by using Caesar Augustus to create widespread peace, to establish ease of travel – no passports needed, no national frontiers blocking the way, a common language and a road structure that was to last nearly 2000 years. We have many similarities – a common commercial language, international banking, ease of travel, and a communication technology that spans the world. As the 21st century unfolds the tentmaker strategy is alive and well – the time is ripe.
“No other generation before us has ever been poised before so great an opportunity”. Tetsunao Yamamori, ex President “Food for the Hungry”.
HOW TIE BEGAN
In 1989 the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation identified the need for some minimum form of co-ordination to meet the needs of the tentmaker strategy of mission. In each Country there should be a point of contact for Christians recognising God’s call to witness for Christ within their secular careers, wherever these careers or occupations took them. They were not unmindful of the millions of un-reached people groups in Countries closed to the traditional missionary societies.
Out of this Congress, held in Manila in the Philippines, began TI, which came to fruition at a meeting of mission leaders in Seattle in 1991. John Cox, a trustee of the Pickenham Trust (UK), was appointed the first International Director. In 2003 TI became part of the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.
HOW THE LEADERSHIP UNDERSTANDS TI
Recognising that in a number of Countries national initiatives had taken place and tentmaker organisations formed, TI set out to be a worldwide fellowship of Individuals and Organisations committed to the tentmaker strategy of mission. In a sense it was a club you could join for mutual encouragement and exchange of information. However as the result of TI international conferences, it developed a worldwide network of National Representatives who, wherever possible, set up a Tentmaker Information Exchange. In 2004 there are approximately 40 Countries involved.
THE PURPOSE OF A TI INFORMATION EXCHANGE
In the first place it was to promote and recruit tentmakers. There followed the need to provide guidance and advice, and to give thought to the preparation and training of potential tentmakers. In order to do this an extensive use of communication technology has taken place, and websites set up, particularly the TI website www.tentmakersinternational.info and also at TENTMAKERNET www.tentmakernet.com (Ari Rocklin) Many of the National TIE representatives have websites and through them are able to share their experience and offer training modules. Some thought has also been given to job opportunities - TI in the Philippines provides international lists of vacancies. There is a growing appreciation of the emerging role of business in mission, with the vision of Great Commission Companies in support of tentmakers and as platforms for mission.