Tent making and pioneer ministers (George Lings)

Monday, 19 October, 2009

George LingsGeorge Lings reflects on tent making and pioneer ministers in this extract from Encounters on the Edge 42: Across a Threshold.

I was struck by the roles played across the whole Threshold history by doctors. Since Paul White's books in the Jungle Doctor series, we have been used to the pivotal role of the overseas medical missionary.

Up till now, I have also imagined that St Paul made tents because he needed to eat. I now wonder if I have misunderstood all this.

Could it be that Paul made tents because it put him in the market place? He met people in a neutral space but also produced something of value to them.

In today's cross-cultural mission at home, could the tent makers of tomorrow be doctors and nurses, solicitors offering legal aid, hairdressers, coffee-shop staff even plumbers and electricians – anyone who meets people in a neutral environment and offers something of value to them, including a listening ear in an environment of trust?

Tent making - is this a possible vision for the new pioneer ministers?

If they were also church planters and leaders, it would mean the forms of church grown would have to be simple and with the work shared across the people of God because they would not have the time or calling to be full-time pastors.

Is this a possible vision for the new pioneer ministers?

About the author: 

George Lings is the director of The Sheffield Centre, Church Army's Research Unit. He specialises in church planting, fresh expressions and Anglican ecclesiology. He writes the quarterly publication, Encounters on the Edge.


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