Modern Missionary Movement

A history of Christian missions

Open Educational Resources

This page and the resources linked from it are Open Educational Resources (OER)

This course looks at 2000 years of the expansion of Christianity around the world. It will include an in-depth look 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 W., Northwest Nazarene University student

Resources for studying world evangelism through the centuries

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-present day Evangelization of the Ends of the Earth

Researcher David Barrett also divided that same period into five periods or 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 resources

Brief essays on 12 key figures    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 involving a few 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 Zinzendorf's 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    Improving the papers you hand in     Listening to a boring lecture     Getting better grades

Year-by-year global expansion of Christianity    Are the "heathen" really lost? Answers to an oft-asked question     William "Bill" Borden's story     Black Americans involvement in world missions     Hudson Taylors' call

It happened on this day in world missions history: January   |  February  |   March  |    April  |    May  |    June  |    July   |    August  |    September  |    October  |    November  |    December

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