‘and because he (Paul) was a tentmaker as they were (Priscilla and Aquila), he stayed and worked with them’ Acts 18:3.

VOLUNTARILY, some pastors elect to be tent makers and they feel, and rightly too, that it is a way they can make their own contributions to the preaching of the Word of God. Understandably, it is good being an insider, as one’s impact is likely to be higher. After all, he understands the system better, where he is working. Most church leadership have over the years accepted with open arms and at the same time partnered with tent making ministers. They understand that in the long run, they are not liabilities to the church, but are vehicles through whom some financial obligations of the church could be met. The tentmakers, who understand this cheerfully and sacrificially assist some individual churches, centres or chapels, where they are seconded to serve. They go extra mile in their service to God and humanity.

We cannot forget the tent making ministry of Priscilla and Aquila. Their house was a highway for the saints that preached the Word just like St Paul’s was also a succour to sinners, who needed to be steadied in the things of the Lord. I am sure, Apollo would never forget his brief encounter with this couple, when he thought he had preached only to be taken aside at the end of the service and put right. No wonder that after that encounter, he was able to confound the Jews later, when he subsequently preached. Tent ministers are not just there to fulfill all righteousness, but are focused and disciplined in the discharge of their ministerial duties. They are never in competition with the authorities, but are simple servants of the Lord who do not do the work of preaching because of what they are likely to get out of it. We have those, who as it were, surrender their would-be allowances to the church or diocese where they are serving. They do this with the hope that it can help to take care of the financial burdens of the church or the diocese. We sincerely commend them.

It is also to be noted that there are some who took to tent making with the idea of securing a future for themselves. At retirement, they do not want to suffer. This category of people do not play with their place of primary assignment because according to them, they are working in order to save for the rainy day. It may be good on the surface and if they had remained there, it could have been better, but they were the people that said God called them from their places of work to serve Him. One is tempted to wonder if they actually considered the cost before taking a plunge into the ministry. Granted that some did not think seriously about it, it may be good to refer such persons who value their work over and above the ministry, while pretending to be interested in the ministry to read Luke 9: 57-62. If any could have boasted because of his income and his work, St Paul would have been a better person. But he was content to say, as reflected by the hymn writer in hymns Ancient and Modern 108:

Forbid it Lord; that I should boast safe in thy cross of Christ my Lord all the vain things I count but lost And pour contempt On all my pride.

People of God, what is it that we have that we did not receive? Whether we are in full time or tent making ministry, the ministry is the Lord’s; we are simply called to partner with Him. It is even more compelling to those in tent making ministry to ensure that their other work (primary assignment, place where they make their income) should not overshadow God’s work, because at the end of the day, those who serve God earnestly and conscientiously would not miss out. Are you in tent making ministry? What are your contributions? Are you a blessing to the church and to the place of your primary assignment? Think about it!

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State

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