While I was in Mongolia I happened to pick up and read thoroughly Patrick Lai's book "Tentmaking: Business as Missions". It had a lot of really excellent insights, and even though tentmaking wasn't/isn't where things seem headed for us, I took a lot away from reading it. So much so, that I'm inclined to pick it up again and take some proper notes.
One of the things that impressed me, was the integration of work, life, and 'ministry'. The picture of a tentmaker as someone who integrated their work-life as a Christian, and had gone to a particular place with the particular intention of reaching people with the gospel, showing a faithful Christian life, discipling believers, and planting churches, was a powerful image.
It made me think about what this might look, if we taught people to do it and live it without going overseas. Lai defines tent-makers with the proviso of 'cross-cultural', which is helpful. We both want to encourage all christians to think of themselves as 'missionaries', while at the same time recognising the distinct hardships and difficulties of Christians who are pursuing mission work that is cross-cultural, international, etc.. Nonetheless, if we had Christian people in local churches who made intentional choices: where to work, who to get to know, specific groups that they were trying to get to know, model Christlikeness to, and share Jjesus with, with an integrated understanding of their work and life as all under the Lordship of Jesus, I think we'd see something major change in the life of the church. And this might, in fact almost certainly would, cause difficulties with established 'churches'. When faithful Christian people pull out of institution-run programmes because they have devoted their energies to missionary endeavours, it is bound to cause both pain and misunderstanding. But the reward would be eternal.
I need to get some more thoughts together on this and express it better...