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Modern Missionary Movement

A history of Christian missions course at Southern Nazarene University

This course looks at 2000 years of the expansion of Christianity around the world. An in-depth look will be taken at the last four hundred years, beginning with groups like the Moravians in the 1600s and then contributions of people like William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Cameron Townsend, Donald McGavran and Ralph Winter.

"God does not bless us so that we can hoard our blessing and bask in our abundance." -- Cassandra Wynn, Nothweset Nazarene University student

Course resources

I like Ralph Winter's easy-to-remember, over-simplified 400-year eras of missions history. Here's how he breaks down the history of world evangelism over the last 2000 years:

  1. 0-400 AD Winning the Romans: Evangelizing the empire of the Caesars
  2. 400-800 AD Evangelization of the Barbarians
  3. 800-1200 AD Evangelization of the Vikings
  4. 1200-1600 AD Evangelization of the Saracens / Muslims
  5. 1600-2000 AD Evangelization of the Ends of the Earth

Researcher David Barrett has also divided that same period into five eras of global outreach. Approaching it from a statistical point of view, his epochs of missions history are a little different from those of Ralph Winter (and a little harder to remember since the periods are not all the same length):

  1. 30-500 AD The Apostolic Era (Luke and Paul)
  2. 500-1750 AD The Ecclesiastical Era (Cosmas Indicopleustes and Francis Xavier)
  3. 1750-1900 AD The Church Growth era
  4. 1900-1990 AD The Global Mission era (John R. Mott and Kenneth Grubb)
  5. 1990 - present: The Global Discipling era

from "Five Statistical Eras of Global Mission" by David Barrett, published in Missiology, January 1984

Sample assignment

Missionary biography resoureces

David Brainerd, American Indians    William Carey, India    Jonathan Goforth, China    David Livingstone, Africa    Mary Slessor, West Africa    C.T. Studd, China - India - Africa    Hudson Taylor, China

Haystack prayer meeting

A small prayer meeting in 1806 by some college students marked the beginning of American involvement in world missions. Involving only five people, it has become known as "the haystack prayer meeting."

Zinzendorf's world outreach prayer

German Count von Zinzendorf pushed the Moravians into becoming a major world missions force in the 1700s. John Wesley translated some of his written prayers from German into English. Here is one with a world evangelism flavor:

"My dearest Savior! We beg of you this same blessed look, this same irresistible look, which you always fix on the souls who like to look upon you, who like to receive you, who are ready to share your wounds, and who are even prepared to die for you.

"May all souls on earth, high and low, rich and poor, yearn for your look. And let us on our part testify amongst those we meet to your sacrificial love, that the number of those who succumb to your look may grow and grow. Indeed, we promise that we shall not rest until we are able to look upon you, and say: 'Lord, we have filled every place in heaven, by bringing every soul on earth under the bright light of your love.'"
Most courses at SNU contain a writing component.
I expect students to produce written work that is focused, well developed, organized and relatively free of grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors.
Papers falling short of this standard will not be graded. That work will be returned to the students for further revision and resubmission.
See my writing checklist.

     -- Howard Culbertson

Professor/student contract   Are the "heathen" really lost? Answers to an oft-asked question   Improving the papers you hand in   Listening to a boring lecture   How to get better grades   Ten ways to ruin your missions trip   "Commitment" by an African pastor   Praying for missionaries   Knowing if you have a missions call   Ten ways to avoid becoming a missionary   Nazarene Missions International resources

Tempted to cheat on some schoolwork? Before you do, read SNU's academic integrity policy

Other world missions course materials and syllabi

Cultural Anthropology    Introduction to Missions    Linguistics    Missions  Strategies   Nazarene Missions   Church Health / Growth and  Christian Missions   Theology of  Missions   Traditional Religions    World Religions
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Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132  |  Phone: 405-740-4149

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. When you use this material, an acknowledgment of the source would be appreciated.