An Examination Of Tentmaker Ministers In Missouri: Challenges And Opportunities -- By: Whitlock, Arnold and Ellis

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: An Examination Of Tentmaker Ministers In Missouri: Challenges And Opportunities
Author: Whitlock, Arnold and Ellis

An Examination Of Tentmaker Ministers In Missouri: Challenges And Opportunities1

Whitlock, Arnold and Ellis

Dr. David Whitlock,
Associate Provost, Dean of the College of Business and Computer Science Southwest Baptist University

Dr. Mick Arnold,
Coordinator of Educational Associate Professor of Graduate Education Southwest Baptist University

Dr. R. Barry Ellis.
Associate professor of Finance University of central Oklahoma


Bivocational ministers, often referred to as tentmakers, are a growing population in today’s churches. The needs of these tentmakers may present an opportunity for churches, universities and seminaries, as well as associations and conventions to provide additional support and training. This exploratory study attempted to investigate the needs and challenges of bivocational ministers. The sample for the study was bivocational ministers as identified by the Missouri Baptist Convention. Using random sampling techniques, 254 surveys were distributed to bivocational Baptist ministers in Missouri with a return rate of 50 percent (127). The survey asked respondents to identify basic biographic information and needs and challenges facing them as tentmakers. Data indicated the primary challenges to include time management, sermon preparation, witnessing and evangelism, counseling, and physical health and well being. Finally, the study suggests ways to better equip and support these ministers.

Purpose And Scope Of The Study

This study attempts to provide a picture of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by bivocational ministers, sometimes referred to as tentmakers. Specifically, areas of encouragement, training or education are explored as they relate to ministers who serve churches and also are employed in non-church positions. For the purposes of this study, the scope is limited to bivocational ministers in Missouri, as designated by the Missouri Baptist Convention, and bivocational ministry is understood to refer to a person who has been called to the ministry but whose major source of income is generated from outside the church. As Bickers noted in his oft-referenced book on tentmaking pastors, “A bivocational minister is one who has a secular job as well as a paid ministry position in a church. Bivocational ministry is sometimes referred to as tentmaking ministry because our biblical example for bivocational ministry is the apostle Paul, who supported himself financially by making tents. In Acts 18.2–4, Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth

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