In Acts 18, we learn something interesting about Paul. He meets a man named Aquila, and his wife Priscilla, and he ends up living and working with them because, the Bible says, they were of the same craft.
They were tentmakers.
And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
The great Apostle, church planter, and missionary – the theologian who had studied under Gamaliel – needed a trade to pay his bills. So, he worked as a tentmaker.
I’m a church planter in Seattle. As of 2017, I have lived in the downtown of Seattle for four years. In 2016, our small congregation signed the lease on our first storefront, right down the road from the space needle, in the middle of skyscrapers and luxury apartments.
And by “our small congregation,” I mean that I am the sole responsible party for the bills.
Let me put this in perspective… before I moved to Seattle to start a church, I lived in a 2-bedroom duplex, paying about $400 a month in rent. And I struggled to pay that every month. I worked as a flooring installer for a big box store. I had to work through a lot of church nights, where I was supposed to be preaching to my youth group.
When I moved to Seattle (with almost no money to my name) the rent for our 590 square foot apartment skyrocketed to about $1,600 a month. Since then, rent across the city has almost doubled, and in some buildings, has more than doubled. A decent 2-bedroom apartment in Seattle runs about $3,000 a month. If you want 3 bedrooms, be prepared to shell out $4,000 at the very least, or move a good bit out of the city.
Long story short, I too have had to find a way to make money – to support myself and my new church plant. To this point, I haven’t taken out a loan or applied for any funds from programs like Christmas for Christ or North American Missions. Yes, we’ve had generous churches pitch in and help us – but that has come largely without solicitation. I believe if God wants a church here, he’ll help us pay for it.
And he has.
But it’s taken some tent-building to pay the bills.
A friend recently moved just south of here to Portland to start a church. Every now and then, his Facebook feed features amazement at the prices of living in a city here in the Northwest. At one point, he mentioned his concern and suspicion that this huge financial strain is why a lot of people give up or backslide. The pressure of paying the bills, and getting wrapped up in “making money” or “having a career” are just too much for a church planter.
But let’s talk about something other than church planters. Pastors… how many do you know of that couldn’t use a little help with their monthly budgets?
- How many ministers’ families are making sacrifices because of church bills?
- How many pastors are working 50+ hours a week to pay bills, before even spending an hour on their calling?
- Too many pastors are bi-vocational.
- Too many men are working themselves to an early grave just to fulfill their calling.
- Too many families are making tough sacrifices because the church can’t support itself.
Is this the way it should be?
Recently, my pastor mentioned something Jerry Staten (a church planter in Washington D.C.) had said after telling the story of someone paying the down payment on his D.C. home. He said, “we have to get out of our small-town thinking.” And it’s so true!
Here in Seattle, if our church grows much more, we’re going to be looking at several thousand dollars a month just to rent a place to worship. And I believe God has supplied us with one of the greatest times to make that money. It involves taking our skills, wisdom, and expertise and sharing it with the digital world.
I call it digital tentmaking.
If Paul Were Alive Today
If Paul was alive today, pastoring or preaching in your city, how would he be supplementing his income? There’s not much of a market for tents today.
Paul would still be a tentmaker. But he would be a digital tentmaker.
I mean, rather than sweating in the hot sun, making tent after tent by hand, he would make a product showing others how to make tents. And then, he would sell that product online.
Think about it:
- People are making thousands of dollars selling instructional videos of how to make potato guns.
- People are making thousands of dollars designing DIY furniture and selling the plans online.
- People are making thousands of dollars selling woodworking instructional content online.
- People are making thousands of dollars teaching people online how to lose weight.
- People are making thousands of dollars teaching people online how to sew.
- My wife made a good bit of money selling affiliate ads on her blog.
- I made $500 in one day, selling drop-shipped (don’t laugh) medieval swords.
- The list goes on and on. You name it, someone out there is making money off of it, all online.
Stop With the Excuses
A lot of people just turned away from the greatest opportunity of their lifetime because I said the word, “online.”
The reason? Fear.
They don’t think they have what it takes to be a digital tentmaker. They don’t know much about computers, or websites. And when it comes to selling something online, they have no idea where to start.
That’s fine. You Can Learn! That’s what this website is about.
Selling tutorials and training on marketing your product online is my “tent.”
I want to help you find yours, and be successful at it.
No, you might not make a million dollars. But if you made an extra $1,000-a-month, would you feel a little better? If you could make an extra $10,000.00-a-year, would you be interested?
You can! Welcome to digital tentmaking!
I’m glad you made it this far. Now, you need to take the next step and learn what you have of value that you can offer to the world. There are billions of customers waiting on your product.
Get out there, Paul, and build that tent!