Bivocationalism in Southeast Asia: Stories from the Past and Thoughts about the Future

Les Taylor explains how being an academic anthropologist has opened doors to get to know people from a different cultural and religious setting and shows the benefits gained by being a student and teaching at a university within the society. This paper gives ample reasons why everyone who wants to share the love of Jesus should delve more deeply into culture to learn to appreciate and care for others as people.

Bivocationalism in Southeast Asia: Stories from the Past and Thoughts about the Future

Mission Round Table Vol. 13 No. 1 (Jan-Apr 2018): 12-18   Les Taylor has lived, worked, and ministered in Southeast Asia for more than fifteen years with his long-suffering (and saintly) wife and two remarkably well-balanced children. He obtained his Ph.D. from a Southeast Asian university in 2009 and works as a research fellow at another Southeast Asian university.


In this paper I have set myself the task of reflecting on more than a decade of bivocational ministry in Southeast Asia with the hope that a range of individuals, initiatives, and institutions will benefit from my discovery of how the nine-to-five rhythms between Mondays and Fridays can contribute to dynamics traditionally associated with Sundays. Even though I do not enjoy talking about myself, I take every opportunity to share what God has done in my life. He has responded to my stupidity with patience, and I have experienced his goodness and greatness in equal measure. A further reason for narrating the blessings and challenges of bivocationalism that I have experienced, is that stories are more powerful than propositions.[1] Those curious about how Scripture has informed my approach to integral mission might appreciate the biblical and theological reflections scattered below. I will also take the time to introduce some analysis of cultural dynamics and social structures. For example, how might biblical accounts of Paul’s involvement in his trade inform our embodiment of bivocationalism? How can outsiders learn to appreciate the importance of patronage?

Anyone who reads this paper in its entirety will be in no doubt that I am unapologetic advocate for bivocational initiatives involving academic institutions. I hope that my enthusiasm for practitioners engaging with the social sciences and humanities will not be misinterpreted as fundamentalism![2] Does the missionary movement need (yet) another missiological brand or gimmick? I sincerely hope that no one launches AAM (Academia as Mission). In this paper, Missional Business, or Business as Mission (BAM), functions as a sort of analytical adversary. I have endeavoured to make my comments constructively critical and not inappropriately iconoclastic. It is worth mentioning at this juncture that at the beginning of 2006 I began exploring retraining as an anthropologist and also established a limited partnership. However, after almost a year of teaching English on a contract basis, I concluded that this business model was not viable in the small town where I lived at the time. This does not make me less biased, but I have personally weighed both and found one wanting. In my corner of Southeast Asia there was neither enough demand nor disposable income for my business plan to have succeeded. There might be in yours. If this is the case, then I rejoice.

There are other reasons for a range of bivocational models to be explored, advocated, and embodied in mission. We not only work in different places, but our personal gifts, passions, and capacity—including the ability to cope with complexity—also differ. All created in God’s image are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 131), and the body of Christ consists of more than one part (1 Cor 12). I have personally experienced how revolutionary it can be to make decisions on the basis of who I am, rather than who I wished I was. As such, I celebrate that entrepreneurs are more confident that there is a place for them in mission. Does everyone possess entrepreneurial gifting and business experience? Certainly not! Some are naturally curious about their cultural contexts, while others need to be trained how to see and make sense of the new world.

Below I argue that integral mission needs to move beyond discourses about how business and development contribute to partnering locally, to include both strengthening existing Christian communities and establishing new ones. Furthermore, I suggest that there are a number of fairy tales about bivocationalism that many of us have read, tell ourselves, and/or tell others. Instead of being only personal, my reflections seek to be practical and pastoral because reflective practitioners wrestle with a number of issues. Do we need to add the unintended consequences of referring to our work as “cover,” “front,” “platform,” or “entry strategy”? Although I used to live and communicate like 007 (or perhaps Johnny English?) behind enemy lines, I now advocate talking about local careers and contributions.

The central contention of this paper is that bivocational practitioners authentically engaged in the social sciences kill four birds with one stone (without killing themselves). They acquire local languages and cultural competency at the same time as obtaining a viable long-term visa that enables them to contribute to forming young heads and hearts. This form of bivocationalism does much more than benefiting individuals. It also increases institutional capacity. I hope that those involved in mobilization will be interested to learn how this form of integral mission might help increase the number of undergraduate students relocating to Southeast Asia and beyond.[3] I pray that I have the opportunity to interact with field leaders in contexts with limited visa options. Similarly, people responsible for membership development may have questions about the benefits of having more members with close connections with local academic institutions.

The story of an accidental anthropologist

For reasons that I hope will soon become clear, if someone like me can retrain as an anthropologist, anyone can! After four years of living in Southeast Asia, I stumbled into this discipline that now feels like it fits me like a glove. A toxic cocktail of ill-discipline and emotional dysfunction contributed to me taking ten years to complete my first undergraduate degree (in horticulture). Most finished in just three! I surprised myself—and many others—by receiving my second degree (in theology) with the cohort I had begun with, three years earlier. Two years after this, I relocated with my family to Southeast Asia. Three years of teaching English as a second language led to increasing boredom with a job that I once loved. Anyone responsible for developing first-term workers will be aware of the dangers of boredom.

This led me to scan the horizon for the next off-ramp, but with degrees in horticulture and theology, my local options appeared limited. What would working on a postgraduate degree in theology or missiology by extension look like? Would these open doors where we lived at the time? As I explain below, I concluded that they would not. God planted what at the time struck me as a mildly mad idea: to do a research degree in anthropology at a local university. Well before finding peace with the idea of going back to school I had become curious about what struck me as distinctively local aspects of Islam where we lived. It seemed to me that what I needed to do next was to come up with a short list of local scholars and post-graduate programs that I could apply to. Although I had absolutely no background in the social sciences before penning my research proposal, the prospect of making sense of my corner of Southeast Asia brought me back to life.

Between 1996 and 1998, I spent three years acquiring tools to study God’s word. Was God inviting me to give as much time to understanding the part of the world we had relocated to?[4] For many years, I had railed against spending even one year of preparation at a Bible College even though it was, at the time, required by most mission organizations. Almost two decades later, my acceptance that I needed to undergo this chapter of formation was one of best decisions I ever made—second only to the woman I married! Productive practitioners are formed—not found. Formation is a process—not an event—that requires a level of patience shared by people who plant Mango trees—not Papaya plants. Mission agencies either need more polymaths or specialists willing to collaborate with others to form the next generation of practitioners.

Like others who attended Bible College two decades ago specifically preparing to live and work cross-culturally, I heard about concepts like culture and was introduced to a range of religious traditions which were not locally present at the time. The latter emphasized Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist doctrines. We learnt about Islam, not Muslims, Buddhism, not Buddhists. Another issue was that textbooks written by missionaries were almost always penned decades earlier. These faithful servants had worked in contexts that differed from where I was headed. I have a number of reasons for appealing for more anthropology in Bible colleges and seminaries. Religious studies specialists typically concentrate on what people should do, and historians are primarily interested in what people used to do. By contrast, anthropologists describe what specific people do in the “ethnographic present.” In addition, anthropologists write ethnographic monographs that describe what they have observed people doing and saying. These are often written in a style accessible to non-specialists and religious outsiders. There might not be any substitute for first-term practitioners learning how to see for themselves, but this ethnographic literature increases cultural fluency in ways analogous to the ways dictionaries and grammars assist language-learners.

Withholding the latter from language students would make fantastic material for anyone writing the screenplay for a mockumentary exposé on the inner workings of the modern missionary movement. To be clear, I am not suggesting that there is some conspiracy about the gold mine of ethnographic literature about the people and places where we work not being made more widely available to practitioners. Indeed, whenever presented with the option to tick the box label “cockup” or “conspiracy theory,” it is almost always better to choose the former.

Others better qualified than myself share this assessment. For example, Robert Priest and Brian Howell have lamented the marginalization of anthropology in North American missiology.[5] Most graduating from conservative theological institutes acquire a range of linguistic, exegetical, and philosophical skills. Even so, few come out with in-depth understandings of anthropology. Priest recounts professors teaching doctor of missiology courses encountering students conversant with theological traditions and methods who were openly hostile to social theory. Practitioners realize that cultural realities need to be understood, but anthropologists are routinely requested to produce what Priest describes as “narrowly instrumental writings in the service of missions,” or “neat typologies or broad generalizations about such things as worldview.” These are two examples of a wider impatience with the sustained and in-depth anthropological research practiced and valued within this discipline. Anthropology is therefore only appreciated in its “instrumental and abbreviated” form. Priest also attributes anthropology’s lack of depth in seminaries to anthropologists rarely teaching these courses. Missiological anthropology is now marginal to both mainstream anthropology and broader theological conversations.[6]

Time to get off my high horse and back to the story. After some re-writing, my research proposal and application were accepted. A number of people who have heard my story, are surprised that no complications arose from the fact that my highest qualification at the time (aside from having lived in Southeast Asia for over four years) was a degree from a seminary. This was perhaps helped by its academic dean being willing to provide an official letter providing details about my GPA. Approximately one year later, my candidature was upgraded to a doctoral track. After four years of reading, interviewing, data analysis, and re-writing—with much prayer—I graduated in 2009. Other Christians were present at my convocation, but I was the only European.

Home side and field leadership might appreciate the following details that contributed to my experience being so positive and comparatively straightforward. At the time, I had a visa and work permit in one country whilst enrolled in a university in another. I was not conducting research in the country where I was enrolled as a student. Most postgraduate students registered in one country (perhaps in the West) affiliate with a local university while conducting their fieldwork. Again, it is common for an anthropologist to spend a number of years doing this—especially if language learning is also required. Formal permission to conduct research is almost always required. However, university departments possess armies of administrators charged with the responsibility of helping new arrivals—who are usually treated as honored guests—to find their way through the administrative maze/haze. Although not part of my personal story, most universities in East and Southeast Asia have signed MOUs with universities elsewhere in the region and in the West. Among other things, these facilitate undergraduate students spending a year or semester abroad. In other words, tertiary education was globalized long before many other sectors.

In the good (!?) old days when people lived in fear of their superintendent, field leader, or General Director, first-term workers completed language and culture acquisition requirements before any requests to commence advanced degrees would even be considered. This was standard operating procedure for a number of reasons. People did what they were told, and new arrivals accepted that the short-term pain of language study would yield long-term gains. Study distracted fallible first-termers as much as enthusiasm for email messages, having one’s face constantly in Facebook, novels never being far away, and too much time being spent watching movies or television series from home. For a highly motivated learner with a fiercely autodidactic learning style, re-training as an anthropologist brought structure to language and culture acquisition. A nuclear scientist may choose to learn a local language while studying abroad, but no anthropologist can collect data without adequate language skills. Most study relevant Asian languages before commencing their fieldwork, and those who have not, make this their first task after arriving. Indeed, the most respected anthropologists are usually those who are most fluent in the languages of their informants.

For anthropologists, language learning and cultural acquisition go together. First-term language-learners are required to write up interviews and cultural observations, but these are also tasks done by any anthropologist (the latter being referred to as participant observation). Other benefits for relocating to East or Southeast Asia as a student enrolled in the social sciences or humanities are many. Students are less of an expatriate anomaly. It makes their presence in communities that can be suspicious of outsiders understandable. Lest I be misunderstood, “understandable” should not be confused with 100% watertight. Newcomers should ignore the most suspicious members in their communities. They should furthermore celebrate—and intentionally spend time with—members of the majority who are either ambivalent about or delighted that a stranger is seeking to learn from and contribute to their corner of the world.

Re-training as an anthropologist might have brought structure to language and culture acquisition, but I have also personally benefited in a number of other ways. This includes opening the door to a credible professional identity uniquely compatible with my wider callings and commitments. Many colleagues share my natural curiosity and scholarly bent. Like me, their formation began in seminaries. Many also pursued advanced degrees there, which built on previous degrees, but after about a decade of ministry experience. Course work and residency requirements were completed over extended home assignments and/or study leave. More than one practitioner writing a dissertation in a creative-access country, or working there after graduating, has recounted how stressful it was to provide answers to questions like:

  • “What university were you enrolled in”?
  • “What was your degree in”?
  • “What is/was your thesis about?”
  • “Could I have a copy of your dissertation?”

All generalizations are only generally true, but it is a fact that few advanced seminary degrees open doors in mainstream academia. This is especially the case in what many refer to as creative access contexts. Many will be aware that anthropology has long been acknowledged as an academic discipline in which people from a range of professional backgrounds have found a home, including missionaries.[7] Indeed, it was a Catholic missionary by the name of Wilhelm Schmidt who established the academic journal Anthropos.[8]

I once entertained seeking entry into an Islamic studies program. I might have been put off by the Arabic language skills required, but Islamic studies departments also have formal and informal gatekeepers almost entirely absent in anthropology departments.[9] These are full of interesting people who accept and encourage religious diversity. Those who think that missionaries are odd should hang around with more anthropologists! Anthropology is accessible to anyone curious about their world and the fascinating range of ordinary people that fill it. Anthropologists can study almost anything. If you are interested in religion, become a religious anthropologist. Those fascinated by language should consider a career in linguistic anthropology. Urban anthropologists study life in cities, and anyone possessing photographic or videography skills, might benefit from becoming a visual anthropologist. No matter who you are, or what you are interested in, you can become an anthropologist.

The flexibility and mobility of anthropology also makes it compatible with an apostolic calling. To reiterate, those unable (or unwilling) to enrol in an Asian university may prefer to enrol in an anthropology department in their own country. Regardless of the university that anthropologists have trained in, or the department they affiliate with, anthropologists are mobile for the simple reason that anthropologists are unable to do their job without access to people. Most anthropologists have a university in their home country that they affiliate with during a home assignment. For anthropologists such movements are understandable. Before returning overseas, the painless process of affiliating with a department or research institute can be initiated. I would be extremely surprised if any department would turn down the opportunity to host foreign students or colleagues with solid academic credentials planning to locally conduct fieldwork. A more mobile profession might exist, but I have never encountered one. Wherever they work and whoever their subjects may be, most anthropologists are respected by their subjects. I have yet to meet anyone who does not love it when outsiders become expert in, and advocate for, local history and ethnic identity.

In search for a patron saint for anthropologists

Although practitioners like David Penman and Robert Hunt embodied forms of engagement with academia that pricked my interest, if you held a gun to my head and demanded the name of the person who has inspired me most, it would have to be Saul of Tarsus (a.k.a. the Apostle Paul). Philip Fountain has related conversations where nominations for the patron saint of anthropologists have been short-listed.[10] Some suggested that Thomas was at the top of the list. After all, he refused to believe without seeing Jesus himself.

Paul trumps Thomas for the following reasons. A detailed reconstruction of Paul’s attitude to his trade and ministry from his letters and Luke’s orderly account are beyond the scope of this paper, but I would like to make the following observations.[11] Wherever he was, Paul got out and looked around. He is presented as a practitioner who paid close attention to his context—even aspects of local materiality that deeply disturbed him. Did Paul enter the market in Athens primarily to preach to the captive audience there? I think not. Immediately after Athens, Luke recounts that Paul travelled to Corinth where he made tents alongside Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1–4). In his farewell to the elders of the church in Ephesus, Paul reminds them that he coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. His own hands had supplied both his own needs and those of his companions. In everything he did, he showed them that by “this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:33). By working, Paul prevented his ministry from being brought into disrepute or derailed. Paul and his companions commended themselves to the Corinthians through their hard work and sleepless nights (2 Cor 6:5). Paul compares himself to his adversaries in Corinth who didn’t have to work hard with their own hands (1 Cor 4:11). In 1 Corinthians 9:6, Paul gets back on his high horse, asking whether he has the right to food and drink, or whether it is only he and Barnabas who had to work for a living. Over and above  leading a quiet life and minding one’s own business, Paul advises the Thessalonians to  work with their hands which will “win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not  be dependent on anybody” (1 Thess 4:11). Elsewhere, he recounted working night and day while he preached the gospel there to avoid being a burden (1 Thess 2: 6–9).

While some routinely refer to their “work” as a cover, entry strategy, or platform, Paul’s tent-making trade permitted him to make authentic connections with people—many of whom played important roles in his ministry. Secondly, work established Paul’s credibility. Thirdly, by working where he wandered, Paul’s mobility was increased. All the tools that he required fit into a small bag, other raw materials were picked up along the way, and there was unlimited demand for the tents he produced in the places he worked and preached. As a tent-maker, Paul established a credible presence in the marketplace. As a Pharisee, he was also present and comfortable on the Sabbath in local synagogues. Luke relates that this led to him eventually being invited to speak at the Acropolis. What is remarkable about Paul’s speech to this Greek audience is that he demonstrated his conversance with Greek philosophy and poetry. Although rooted in a range of Jewish traditions, he was also familiar with Greek ones. In addition to a toolbox of tent-making tools, Paul possessed a bookshelf that contained Jewish and Greek texts. These contributed to his ability to both celebrate Saturdays and work days, and also to engage Greek audiences.

Saint Paul delivering the Aeropagus sermon in Athens by Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Les Taylor has lived, worked, and ministered in Southeast Asia for more than fifteen years with his long-suffering (and saintly) wife and two remarkably well-balanced children. He obtained his Ph.D. from a Southeast Asian university in 2009 and works as a research fellow at another Southeast Asian university.

There are other ways that Paul’s involvement in his mobile trade differs from some contemporary “tent-makers”. Limited space—and perhaps the patience of my readers—prevents me from developing these thoughts. Paul in his letters might have explained the crucial role that work played in establishing his local credibility, but Luke’s account of Paul in Corinth suggests this was where his priorities changed. The following is an extract from a letter to my (longsuffering) supporters.

The end of 2015 roughly coincides with the end of a season. Many of you will be aware of “tent-making” as a badge, brand, and methodology. On the basis of my re-reading of some of the texts that these are based on, perhaps we can also talk about tent-making mythologies. To be sure, there were times when Paul’s trade was central to his ministry (especially while in Corinth and Thessalonica). Acts 18:1–11 relates Paul leaving Athens for Corinth where he met two Jewish believers who were also tent-makers. They all worked together in the marketplace, and spoke to the local Synagogue every Sabbath. However, Acts 18:5 mentions that when Silas and Timothy arrived, Paul entered a season when his focus changed in two ways. Preaching became more important to him, and he became more focused on his Gentile neighbors (v. 7). From his letters to the Corinthians, it is clear that he still worked. Therefore, although the elements in his ministry remained roughly the same, his priorities changed.

Like all of us, there were chapters in Paul’s apostolic ministry. He had established a credible presence in local marketplaces and synagogues. He was also occasionally invited to share what he had shared there in institutes like the Acropolis in Athens. As a place of learning where there was a lot of talk about old and new ideas, this looks a lot like a modern university. All the elements in Paul’s portfolio were credible, but all were subordinate to his apostolic calling. Being in the solar system was what was most important. Was Paul the best tent-maker in town? Perhaps, but probably not! Although he had a following, he was almost certainly not the most respected guest preacher at local synagogues on Saturdays. He was invited to speak at the Acropolis, but he did not have tenure. Paul was in the solar system, but he was a Pluto. Had his apostolic calling scuttled plans at ever being Mercury? Was ambition (perhaps driven by the desire to be accepted) incompatible with his calling? Allegiance to local institutions and the individuals that lead them come in a range of shapes and sizes. His primary allegiance was to the God of Israel who through the resurrection of his Holy Servant Jesus had enthroned him as Messiah. After Paul’s personal encounter with the Messiah, it was clear that he had work to do. As he had to eat, he worked wherever he wandered. But he been chosen, called, and commissioned to do another job.

Readers will now be clear that I am uncomfortable with utilitarian attitudes towards work (whatever its form). However, the issues of mobility, credibility, and apostolic calling need to be further explored. Most practitioners experience seasons in their career. I personally celebrate the adventurous young people who, instead of making money and getting on with their career, learn languages and incarnate themselves in local communities as non-conformist activists. I have observed long-term workers with this sort of background having received a new lease of life through becoming more bivocational. Monday to Friday rhythms provided welcomed structure. More importantly, they establish greater connections with and make more tangible contributions to local institutions, thus providing two things that they had hitherto lacked.

Every Asian country possesses its own currency. Nevertheless, there is one that is traded throughout the region: the currency of status. In addition to studying anthropology to bring structure to language and culture, and the work of an anthropologist being compatible with the passions and priorities of most practitioners, like other academic careers in East and Southeast Asia, it also comes with status. This is as true for PhD candidates, visiting scholars, or research fellows. I do not want to be accused of being either a paper tiger or straw-man slayer, but some enthusiasts for Missional Business appear to (erroneously) assume that a worker’s most precious commodity is time. Leaving aside the possibility that many tasks expand to fill the time given to them, in many parts of East and Southeast Asia there is little value in being free during the day. The reason is that most of the people that I need to connect with are only in teashops before evening prayers and after night prayers.

In addition to status, there are other ways that practitioners benefit from bivocational models. Although cultural bottlenecks differ across contexts, outsiders need local patronage, which provides a place in the local social hierarchy. During my first four to five years in Southeast Asia, I had no connections with local national institutions. Once I came under the patronage of a local university, I observed that local attitudes to me and my presence among them changed. This began with a name card stating that I was a PhD candidate. After I graduated, I chose a Pluto trajectory. This is to say that I have never had a full-time and salaried position at any university. I have affiliated with the best local institutions as a research fellow. However important the reputation of the institution one graduates from might be, I wish to add that this does not trump the warmth of one’s personal relationships with influential individuals that one studies under. Both are door openers. When I meet local leaders (which I do on a regular basis) I am almost always asked where I graduated from and who my supervisors are (not were). In most parts of Southeast Asia, one never stops being someone’s student. My supervisors—none of whom were particularly religious—knew me as a devout follower of God’s Holy Servant Jesus, but it became increasingly a nonissue. I am accepted and respected in many corners of Southeast Asia for a number of reasons. I would like to think that my generosity and personal integrity have played some part, but as most middle-aged men are better human doings than human beings, it is possible that it is the quality of my work. The better my work, the more I get to say. I have no idea of knowing what doors would have opened to me if I was only interested in a visa with few time constraints, but I am glad that I made the decisions that I did.


Let me close by making the following short comments about how individuals and institutions benefit from bivocational models of ministry. Particularly in countries where religious entrepreneurs are not welcome, there are a number of pastoral benefits for first-termers being involved in some form of integral mission. Those with local patronage need not live like 007. Although everyone has secrets, there is wisdom in increasing the areas of our lives that we can openly talk about. Monday to Friday and nine-to-five routines bring a rhythm and tangibility to life. It is unwise to assume that young people in their first term have ever been mentored in how to manage their time. As a result, the crucial task of learning local languages often expands to fill the time given to it. Those with unlimited time often struggle with discouragement and boredom that might be mitigated by some sort of hands-on local contribution. This relates to another way that individuals benefit from forms of bivocationalism concerned with the social sciences—anthropologists learn local languages and cultures. In addition to this, relocating to East or Southeast Asia as an anthropologist comes with cultural capital. It provides new arrivals with status and patronage, which make our presence more understandable. This is particularly valuable for those just starting out in their careers.

Over and above these individual benefits, in what ways do institutions benefit from bivocational models involving the social sciences and humanities? This form of integral mission increases the number of young people who are being incrementally exposed to the needs and opportunities in East and Southeast Asia. Many assume that involvement in mission requires committing career suicide. This has not been my experience. I would argue that the future viability of our movement will be determined by our success at co-opting young heads, hearts, and hands. Our organisation can be legitimately proud of the quality of the language and orientation program. Indeed, it is entirely possible that universities do a comparatively poor job. Does this mean that we should not send young workers to learn Asian languages in local universities? I would hope that most would have a both-and (not an either-or) attitude.

Is the adage “the more, the merrier” true? If it is, then strategic partnerships with evangelical student movements such as IFES might reduce the amount of work required to increase the number of young people involved in the social sciences and humanities. It might also ensure that it goes further. Increasing the number of young people committed to having a missional presence in religiously diverse universities will have a number of institutional benefits. I am delighted that the number of Asians in the fellowship has increased. We now need to reduce the average age. There are other institutional benefits from more members undergoing a season of formation in the social sciences and humanities. I sincerely hope that those responsible for membership development will be willing to chew over this proposal. The final institutional benefit for an organization committed to alternative ecclesiological models is that it is difficult to advocate that local religious entrepreneurs should be partially self-supporting when those making this pitch have a comfortable standard of living paid for by their supporters.


[1] Those interested in comparing my approaches to non-traditional missional model, which have been referred to as integral mission, tent making, or (my preferred term) bivocationalism, might consult the following. Stephen Burns, ed., The Art of Tentmaking: Making Space for Worship (Norwich: Canterbury, 2012); James Francis and Leslie J. Francis, eds., Tentmaking: Perspectives on Self-Supporting Ministry (Herefordshire: Gracewing, 1998; Ronald F. Hock, The S ocial C ontext of Paul’s M inistry: T entmaking and A postleship (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980); Patrick Lai, Tentmaking: B usiness as M issions (Waynesboro, GA: Authentic, 2005); Jonathan Lewis, ed., Working Your Way t t he Nations: A Guide t o Effective Tentmaking, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove: IVP, 1996).

[2] Brian Howell has recently analysed the role that anthropology played in forming Billy Graham’s career. It might also be with at this point that the famous Afro-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King studied sociology. Brian M. Howell, “Anthropology and the Making of Billy Graham: Evangelicalism and Anthropology in the 20th-Century United States,” American Anthropologist, 117, no. 1 (2015): 59–70.

[3] Mobilization is one of a number of military metaphors that has regrettably become default terms for recruitment and incremental co-option.

[4] It might be worth mentioning at this juncture that I continued to read developments in New Testament students and missiology while working away at my doctorate. This became my weekend “treat”!

[5] Robert J. Priest, “Anthropology and Missiology: Reflections on the Relationship,” in Paradigm Shifts in Christian Witness: Insights from Anthropology, Communication, and Spiritual Power – Essays in Honor of Charles H. Kraft, Charles E. Van Engen, Darrell Whiteman, and J. Dudley Woodberry, eds. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2008), 23–32; Howell, “Anthropology,” 59–70.

[6] Priest forwards a number of proposals about how missiological anthropology can be strengthened: (1) Christians should become actively involved in the anthropology of religion and the growing field of the anthropology of Christianity by publishing scholarly articles in top peer-reviewed journals and attending professional meetings; (2) Anthropologists teaching in missiology programs must be active in their discipline. In order for Christian colleges and universities to have an increased appreciation for empirically based research related to Christian ministry, they should strengthen the position of the theoretical and methodological aspects of the social sciences in their curriculum. When undergraduate majors in anthropology are offered, advanced degrees in missiology will become more solidly anthropological; (3) More missiologists are needed to engage in ethnographic research of the length and calibre practiced by anthropologists in mainstream academia. This could lead to missiology becoming a discipline which values “research-based ethnographically rich writings and validates those who contribute to missiological knowledge through such research.” Doing so would “strengthen anthropological research in service of mission.” Priest, Paradigm Shifts, 30.

[7] For an analysis of the role that Protestant and Catholic missionaries have played in anthropology, see Howell, American Anthropologist, 59–70; Jonas Adelin Jørgensen, “Anthropology of Christianity and Missiology: Disciplinary Contexts, Converging Themes, and Future Tasks of Mission Studies,” Mission Studies 28, no. 2 (2011): 186–208; Jean Michaud, “Incidental” Ethnographers: French Catholic Missions on the Tonkin-Yunnan Frontier, 18801930 (Leiden: Brill, 2007); Robert J. Priest, “The Value of Anthropology for Missiological Engagements with Context: The Case of Witch Accusations,” Missiology 43, no. 1, (2015): 27–42; Michael A. Rynkiewich, “Do We Need a Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World?” Mission Studies 28, no. 2, (2011): 151–169.

[8] See Ernest Brandewie, “Ethnology and Missionaries: The Case of the Anthropos Institute and Wilhelm Schmidt,” in Darrell L. Whiteman and Frank A. Salamone, eds., Missionaries, Anthropologists and Cultural Change (Williamsburg, VA: College of William and Mary, 1983): 369–386; Lewis J. Luzbetak, “Wilhelm Schmidt’s Legacy,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 4, no. 1 (1980): 14–19, (accessed 4 January 2018).

[9] To be clear, this is not unusual or unreasonable. I am aware of more than one Bible college that discourage non-Christian applicants. I am unaware of anyone applying to an anthropology department who was turned away on the basis of their religious affiliation.

[10] Philip Fountain, “Toward a Post-Secular Anthropology,” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24, no. 3 (2013): 310–328.

[11] Those interested in reading more should refer to Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Paul: His Story (Oxford: OUP, 2005): 29–30; Stanley E. Porter and Christopher D. Land, eds., Paul and H is S ocial R elations (Leiden: Brill, 2013); John W. Welch, “How Rich Was Paul? . . . And Why It Matters,” in Andrew C. Skinner, D. Morgan Davis, and Carl W. Griffin, eds., Bountiful Harvest: Essays in Honor of S. Kent Brown (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2011; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012; Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2011), 425–453, (accessed 4 January 2018).

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