"Tent-making ministry" as a proposal for mission and ministry in the Evangelial Lutheran Church in Tanzania-Iringa Diocese (ELCT-IRD), with practical examples from "Muslim tent makers" in Tanzania.
Mission is a central phenomenon in Christianity and Islam. The presence of the two religions relies heavily on extension of their faith through propagation. Christian and Islam are faiths that claim that their message is universal. Due to this fact they thrive to spread their tenets all over the world. Christianity, especially the Lutheran Church, and Islam have similar understanding and emphasis on the theory of the priesthood of all believers. Nevertheless, they differ in its implementation. Islam is a layperson's religion. Its rapid growth and spread is caused by the participation of the community of the faithful (Umma). On the contrary the Lutheran Church theoretically insists on the priesthood of all believers, while practically it is clergy dominated. Official and traditional church personnel dominate Christian mission and ministry. Christian mission and ministry is an ongoing process. This process accompanies changes according to the context. Transformation is an imperative move in the expansion of Christian community. The first Christian community (i.e. in the first century) witnessed the formation of movement formed by Jesus Christ. This energetic movement facilitated the growth and expansion of Christian faith from its origin in one culture, tribe and nation into a universal religion. The number of Christian missionaries and ministers increased according to the needs. This faith spread from Jerusalem to Africa, Asia Minor, and Europe and to the whole world. Self-supporting Christians carried it out. In Tanzania, Islam was the first foreign faith to be propagated. Businessmen brought their religion with them; it was an unprecedented event. On the other hand, Christianity i.e. the Lutheran Church came through institutional personnel. Its work depended on patronage from the North Atlantic Churches. This nature of missionary strategy has effects on the present Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Iringa Diocese. The lack of practising the theory of the priesthood of all believers makes Christian mission and ministry to be confined to official places. The current socio-economic situation limits the growth and extension of the Lutheran Church. This is a challenge facing this church today. This crisis has to be addressed. One of the reliable and appropriate alternatives is to employ self-supporting ministry. This was the norm of the first Christian community. Muslims also practise it. The application of tentmaking ministry creates ample opportunities. The priesthood of all believers becomes a responsible principle for the proclaiming of faith. This work aims at investigating reasons behind Islamic growth in Tanzania, and challenges facing Christian mission and ministry in the above-mentioned church. The priesthood of all believers is presented to indicate the possibility of transforming and strengthening Christian mission and ministry. This point is based on the belief that tent-making ministry and the priesthood of all believers is a biblical principle. Thus it concurs with the doctrine of the Lutheran Church that prioritises the Word of God.
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