The Tentmaking Pastor

By Dennis W. Bickers
Grand Rapids : Baker (2000). 136 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
11.2 (Fall 2000) : 243-244

The Tentmaking Pastor is written by an actual tentmaking pastor, Dennis W. Bickers, pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Madison, Indiana. Since taking the church, he has worked full time in secular employment, first at Cummings Engine Company and now as owner of Madison Heating and Air Condition. Undoubtedly, he is qualified to pen such a book.

The book covers the topic of tentmaking from a practical perspective. The author attempts to make a case for bivocational ministry in chapters 1 and 2, stating that many churches are too small to compensate a full-time pastor adequately, and such churches are better served by a bivocational pastor in a long pastorate than by a revolving door of short pastorates. Furthermore, he states that there is and will continue to be a shortage of pastors due to church planting, an aging ministry, an aging church and ministry drop-outs (26-32).

Pastor Bickers then addresses the tentmaker himself with chapters on “Preparation for Bivocational ministry,” “A Rewarding Ministry,” “The Need for Balance,” and “The Importance of Preaching.” These are valuable for those called to a tentmaking ministry. Here the author shares his personal struggles as a tentmaker and the lessons learned.

The last section of the book is an appeal for men and churches to consider the viability of a tentmaking ministry. He lists a number of practical suggestions to make this happen.

The book is an excellent source for those contemplating a tentmaking ministry, and churches which may be in a situation where a full-time pastor may not ever be a reality. It does not establish a clear biblical rational for the tentmaking call. The danger also exists that some will see the church as their second job, when in actuality the “tentmaking” is the second job. There was not real emphasis on “tentmaking” as a temporary step in forming the church (as was Paul’s case). This lack is seen from the author’s move from one job to another. This is a caution to consider. Overall, this reviewer found the book refreshing and enlightening.