Many pastors in our country choose to work a second job in order to help create their churches. Recently this trend of bivocational pastors (or “tentmakers”) has become more popular, specifically for those who believe the church itself is a missionary community entering into a specific culture.
Chris Ridgeway suggested in a previous post that the job of the missional tentmaker should have “some coherence or link to the community the church is reaching”. One might argue that pastors should be out doing life shoulder to shoulder with those they hope to influence, diving into the culture itself through their work, and from that position of experience and encounter leading their community.
Idealistically this seems to me the best argument for tentmaking. It is a pragmatic argument that suggests the most effective ministers in the emerging world will be those that surrender many of their weekly duties to other part-time workers/volunteers so they may get their hands dirty alongside the culture they hope to understand and show Jesus.
Let’s pause and ask: Are there any potential pitfalls here, or is this a model that should be explored by most pastors? Is there any size to a church in which this becomes too difficult? Is there anything a tentmaking pastor simply cannot do that is vital to the health and success of a church community? If not, isn’t this a better model for pastors to assume?