Our Tentmaking Approach
Love Singapore Missions Summit
Benjamin Lee on Thursday, 10th May 2007
As a church we practice church planting through tentmaking. My wife worked in Public Relations and I worked as an external auditor when our church here started.
As a new church plant we started to plant churches. Let me share five lessons on how we turned the corner from a church with missions into a missions-driven church. This journey began in 1997.
First is vision. We articulated the vision to turn the unchurched into church-planters.
Our goal was to be a missionary church rather than a church with missions. Missions would be the main thing rather than the side show.
We kept talking about the church's 'S' capacity. This is not seating, speaking, singing capacity but sending capacity.
Second is infrastructure. We set up a high-level, cross-functional leadership task force. We put up a budget and recruited two missions staff.
We mobilised our small groups to pioneer care groups in the city and mid-size groups (100 people up) to pioneer in an overseas city. Mid-size groups would prayerfully select cities with our missions staff.
I was encouraged that our students also began to do missions through overseas education.
Third is outreach. Our mid-size groups started clubs such as Friends of South Africa and Friends of Peru.
Our staff organised Missions Conferences, Missions Week and Missions Month. We featured regular live tent-maker testimonies during worship services.
Fourth is preparations. We focused on equipping, exposing and engaging.
For example we held mission classes and children mission lessons, language classes in Spanish and business workshops. We encouraged Teaching English as Second Language and even driving lessons.
Our staff held monthly briefings with potential and to-be tentmakers and with mid-size group leaders.
Our mid-size groups also started home missions. We began reaching and discipling internationals so they in turn touch their nation. We currently have Nepalese, Filipino and Vietnamese groups.
Fifth is communication. Missions work is far away and so easily falls to the bottom of the agenda.
So we ensured all communication avenues emphasise missions. There needed to be a constant stream of missions news and tools. Bulletins, website, brochures, book store, camps, banners keep missions at the forefront.
We also challenged each member to give more of their lives to international missions every year. We constantly looked to provide diverse church planting opportunities for members constantly. For example we started Weekend Missions. We started three church plants in South Malaysia. We promoted Holidays for Jesus for further away cities so we published annual brochures with airfares and holiday ideas. Now we have various Short-term missions (a week) in Thailand, East Malaysia and Indonesia.
Let me conclude. The next phase for us is organic church planting. This is based on the belief that living things grow naturally. Kingdom things are organic things. They start small and reproduce.
Organic church-planters don’t think about planting a church. They think like the apostle Paul – to church an entire region.