by Patrick Lai
This book is the definitive work for contemporary tentmaking. Patrick Lai has composed a very extensive and highly-practical resource birthed from many years of personal experience and interviews from over 450 tentmakers serving in the 10/40 Window.
Authentic Media, 129 Mobilization Drive, Waynesboro, GA 30830 USA, and 9 Holdom Avenue, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK1 1QR, UK, 2005, 417 pages, $22.99.
—Reviewed by J. D. Payne, director, Nehemiah Project, and assistant professor of church planting and evangelism, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.
This book is the definitive work for contemporary tentmaking. Patrick Lai has composed a very extensive and highly-practical resource birthed from many years of personal experience and interviews from over 450 tentmakers serving in the 10/40 Window. The breadth and depth of Lai’s book makes it the most comprehensive piece of literature on the topic to date. The author and his family have lived and worked in the 10/40 Window for twenty-three years, as both career missionaries and as tentmakers.
Eighteen chapters and five appendices address a spectrum of issues related to the tentmaker’s involvement in church planting, business and family. Believing that many mission agencies need to be re-tooled and begin to develop new ways of sending missionaries, Lai writes this work to challenge contemporary thinking and encourage “both leaders and workers to look beyond the box.” Missionary and business principles are delineated and illustrated by numerous stories of success, struggles and statistical findings.
One unique feature of this work is the author’s typology of tentmakers. He clearly notes that not all tentmakers are the same and need to be distinguished based on their callings, roles and ministries. Lai attempts to address the current misconceptions about tentmakers and discuss the numerous advantages of tentmaking. For those considering serving in such a role, much information is shared regarding what one should do in preparation for the work. Several chapters address general family issues related to surviving and thriving on the mission field. There are three general strengths in this book.
First, the author strongly advocates that the primary reason for serving as a tentmaker is to glorify God through evangelism and church planting. Lai is unapologetic in the fact that biblical church planting is evangelism that results in churches and that tentmakers must make it a priority to be involved in this missionary activity. Closely related to this point is the fact that the gospel must be communicated through both our actions and our words. Lai is quick to point out that a verbal proclamation of the gospel is a must.
Second, although Lai offers several statistics from his numerous interviews, this is a highly-practical work. This book should be used in the academic setting; however, it is not a scholarly work. The research findings are primarily used for illustrative purposes. Third, Lai does an excellent job of not dichotomizing the secular and the sacred. He strongly advocates an integrated understanding of the tentmaker’s business and missionary activities.
The only reservation I have is that the author’s definition of a tentmaker is restricted to cross-cultural ministry and also seems to omit the possibility of tentmakers serving in a North American context.
Copyright © 2007 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.