Missions History an overview

What is missions?

God’s movement to bring ALL peoples back to himself.

What is history?

History = God’s Story

Genesis 1:28 - God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

fill the earth...

Genesis 3:15 - And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

and God's mission began...

Genesis 11:9 - That is why it was called Babel–because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Genesis 12:1-3 - The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Habakkuk 2:14 - For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Jesus, the missionary

Philippians 2:6-11 - "... who being in very nature God...."

What principles of missions can you learn from Jesus?

Acts 2:1-13

v. 8 "Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?"

The history of missions is the story of God sharing his heart and authority with his people to bring ALL peoples back to himself.

Matthew 9:36-38

The first glimpses of modern-day missions

Read Matthew 10:1-20

Describe the purpose and process of missions, as detailed by Jesus.

The Commissioning of Missions

The Holy Spirit in Missions

Acts 1 - Why does the Spirit come?

Acts 2 - What happens when the Spirit is poured out?

Missions Under Attack

Acts 7 - the martyrdom of Stephen

Acts 7:54-58 - When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Acts 8 - the Church is persecuted and scattered

Acts 8:1-3 - On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

The Spread of the Gospel - Jerusalem to Rome (0-400 AD)

Paul the Missionary

Acts 9:15 - But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man [Paul] is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.

Key moments: Acts 16:6-10; 23:11
Paul's missionary experience

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Connect a story or writing from Paul's life to one of the words in italics above.

Peter the Missionary

The Acts 15 Agreement

What was the agreement? Acts 15:28-29 - It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:

You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

Christianity and Culture

  • Muslims converted to Christianity - still retaining the name Muslim, going to the mosque, but praying to / worshiping Jesus. Does this work?
  • A polygamist tribal leader gets saved. What should he do about his many wives?
and the Gospel keeps pushing farther west...

Polycarp (69-155) burned at the stake

When persecution broke out in 156 every attempt was made to get him to recant his faith in the “cult” of Jesus. “Why, what harm is there in saying, ‘Caesar is Lord’ and offering incense and saving yourself,” the officials continued pleading, “Swear by the divinity of Caesar; repent and say, ‘Away with the atheists’…Take the oath and I will let you go.” Polycarp was unshakable, then uttered the words that will forever be associated with his name: “For eighty-six years I have been his servant, and he has never done me wrong; how can I blaspheme my king who saved me?” (Tucker, p. 32). He was burnt at the stake for refusing to deny his Lord.

Origen (185-254) trained leaders and published Bible studies. Ambrose supplied him with a publishing staff.

The spread of Christianity - 100 - 600 AD


Emperor Constantine

312 AD Emperor Constantine converts, becoming the first Christian emperor
313AD - Edict of Milan - legislates Christianity in all of Rome
380 AD Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire through the Edict of Thessalonica

Discuss the advantages / disadvantages of legalizing Christianity throughout the Roman world.

The Spread of the Gospel - Rome to Europe (400-1500 AD)

St. Patrick AD 389 - 461

The legacy of Saint Patrick

1,000's of baptisms, 100's of churches planted, missionary and educational centers set up throughout Ireland

Thomas Cahill, author: "Patrick is responsible for ending Irish slavery, reducing intertribal wars and crime, establishing convents and monasteries, and reminding the Irish people that they all can live an honest, pious life without war and bloodshed."

  • Briget of Kildare - missionary, church and school founder
  • Columba of Iona - evangelized Scotland; copied and distributed God's Word in mass; died copying one of the Psalms

The Irish saved Western civilization. (Thomas Cahill) At a time when German barbarians were destroying Roman cities and culture, the Irish monks were preserving and passing on literature, education and most importantly, the Bible.

St. Augustine

In 595 AD, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine to convert the Anglo-saxons to Christianity. Augustine received favor and protection from the king, while Christianity spread.

St Augustine’s Abbey became one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in the medieval world, and was a thriving centre of learning and culture for almost 1,000 years before its suppresstion in 1538. It is the burial place of several Anglo-Saxon kings and Archbishops of Canterbury, including St Augustine himself, and today forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See source

St. Augustine's Abbey

622-750 AD Palestine, Spain, Egypt and North Africa is lost to the rise of Islam.

635 AD Syrian missionary (Nestorian) monk, Olopun, reaches China (Xian) and was given permission by the emperor (Tang dynasty) to build a church and spread Christianity.

675 AD Christianity reaches Belgium and the Netherlands.

Boniface (675-754 AD)

English Benedictine monk, missionary to Friesland (northern Netherlands) and Germany (722 AD)

He destroyed pagan shrines, established churches and baptized thousands.

He was equally zealous in his mission against paganism. At Geismar, he found a huge sacred oak tree, a shrine to Thor. He immediately took an axe to it. After only a few blows, the tree toppled to the ground, breaking into four pieces and revealing itself to be rotted away from within.

"A great throng of pagans who were there cursed him bitterly among themselves because he was the enemy of their gods," wrote Boniface's biographer, Willibald. "When the pagans who had cursed saw this, they [stopped] cursing and, believing, blessed God." Boniface used the oak to build a chapel, which became the center of his new monastery. Source

He was slaughtered by pagan raiders, defending himself with only the book in his hands.

740 AD - Irish monks reach Iceland.

828 AD - Missionaries sent to (modern-day) Slovakia and Czech Republic.

900-1000 AD - Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland accept Christianity.

1015 AD - Russia and much of Eastern Europe converted to Christianity.

What were the Christian mission implications of the Crusades?

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226 AD)

Called to monastic living and service with three emphases:

  • (1) bringing renewal to the church
  • (2) caring for the poor
  • (3) imitating Christ in simplicity and voluntary poverty.

In 1219, St. Francis went with the Crusaders to Egypt. He walked across enemy lines and met with the Egyptian sultan and shared the Gospel. He continued his missionary work among Muslims in Syria, Jerusalem, Antioch and Acre.

“He presented a Trinitarian God; an incarnate Christ who was crucified, buried and risen; and a Holy Spirit that made the virgin birth of Christ possible, and he called for his Muslim listeners to repent and believe this message.” Source

“Lessons on mission from Francis of Assisi begin with the fact that suffering should be expected and accepted as part of God’s plan.” Source

Ramon Lull (1232-1315 AD)

first western missionary to the Muslims

  • wealthy Spaniard who left position and family to be a missionary
  • He developed a three-point plan to reach Muslims. First, he needed to learn Arabic and other languages used by Muslims. Second, he studied Islamic literature in order to develop a Christian apologetic in response to Muslim arguments. Third, he desired to give his life as a martyr among the Muslims.
  • Went to Tunis, Tunisa and Bugia, Algeria (eventually martyred in Bugia)

Lull wrote, “It is my belief, O Christ, that the conquest of the Holy Land should be attempted in no other way than as Thou and Thy apostles undertook to accomplish it – by love, by prayer, by tears, and the offering up of our own lives.”

1260 AD - Missed opportunity for Christian missions in China (Mongolian empire) - Marco Polo was asked by Kublai Khan to bring back 100 missionaries to spread the Gospel. It never happened.

The birth of religions

John Wycliffe (1324-1384)

Produced the first Bible in English (translated from the Vulgate - 4th century Latin)

He declared that the Bible was the highest authority for every Christian and the standard for faith and perfection. Source

In 1376 Wycliffe wrote On Civil Dominion, in which he said, “England belongs to no pope. The pope is but a man, subject to sin; but Christ is the Lord of lords, and this kingdom is held directly and solely of Christ alone.” Source

John Huss (1369-1415)

Bohemian (Czech Republic) preacher and writer

Influenced by Wycliffe's writings

Held up Scripture as the highest authority. The Pope is only a man.

Burned at the stake in 1415

Johannes Gutenberg (1400-1468)

Inventor of the movable-type printing press

Produced the first book ever printed, a Latin language Bible, in Mainz, Germany

Bad business associates took control of his business and left him in poverty.

The Spread of the Gospel - Europe to the World (1500-1800)

1493 - Columbus takes priests to the new world.

1501 - Pope Alexander VI enlists Spain to take Christianity to the Americas.

Following Columbus' discovery, Pope Alexander VI issued a May 4, 1493, papal bull granting official ownership of the New World to Ferdinand and Isabella. To these monarchs, the Pope declared:

"We of our own motion, and not at your solicitation, do give, concede, and assign for ever to you and your successors, all the islands, and main lands, discovered; and which may hereafter, be discovered, towards the west and south; whether they be situated towards India, or towards any other part whatsoever, and give you absolute power in them." Source

Between 1493 and 1820, Spain sent some 15,585 missionaries to the Americas. Source

Discuss the implications of imperialism and Christian missions.

The Reformation

1517 - 1630

impact of the Reformation on Christian Missions

  • The Bible was given to the common man.
  • The Gospel was held up in highest authority... thus the need to make it known.
  • Early Reformers spoke about the need for the preaching of the Gospel and missions.
  • Explosion of theological education - Calvin himself remarked, “A good missionary is a good theologian. A good theologian is a good missionary.” Source
  • Focus was more on purifying the local church than reaching the unreached
  • Certain theological outlooks did not motivate toward missions.

Three ways the Reformation changed the world


  1. Free Inquiry
  2. Democracy
  3. Limited Government
  4. (Capitalism)

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

German professor of theology, monk and priest

Nailed 95 theses to the Wittenberg Castle church door in 1517.

Salvation is a free gift of God's grace that comes by faith. Famous "Reformation text" - Romans 1:17

He translated the Bible into the German vernacular.

He married a former nun.

William Tyndale (1494-1536)

1525 - first translation of New Testament from Greek into English

1536 - branded as a heretic and burned at the stake

John Calvin (1509-1564)

French preacher, scholar, professor, writer

Wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion

Father of reformed theology (TULIP) - implications on Christian missions?

Tireless preacher, hugely influential in Geneva

1553 - Approved of the burning of Michael Servetus - heretic

Catholic missions (Jesuits, Franciscans) accelerated into the americas.

“I have but one passion—it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field, and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.” – Count Ludwig Von Zinzendorf

First Era of Modern Protestant Missions - 1792

Characteristics of the First Era

  • Focus on coastlands of continents (Asia, Africa)
  • Great personal sacrifice (so many died early from disease or murder)
  • New mission strategies (pioneer, paternal, partnership, participation)

2nd Era of Protestant Christian Missions - 1865

Characteristics of the 2nd Era

  • Rise of faith-based missions
  • Focus on going inland
  • Lots of recruiting (Student Volunteer Movement - 100,000 volunteers / 20,000 went overseas)

The Spread of the Gospel - the World to the World (1800 AD to present day)

3rd Era of Modern Protestant Missions - 1934 AD

Cameron Townsend and Donald McGavran

missionaries, researchers, writers, recruiters for the unreached

4th Era of Modern Protestant Missions (2000-present)

The church comes together to finish the task

Collaboration, Spheres, Discipling Nations, Ending Bible poverty

Only 1585 languages yet to receive the Bible in their own language!

The 5 Finish Lines of the Great Commission

Using technology to reach more...

Apps: Bible.is | JesusFilm | 5fish | CreateInternational | Bible | Google Translate

Where do you fit in the history of Christian missions?

Find your direction

Need, Sphere, Geography

The Christian Magna Charta, YWAM leaders 1981

Everyone on earth has the right to:

• Hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.

• Have a Bible available in their own language.

• Have a Christian fellowship available nearby, to be able to meet for fellowship regularly each week, and to have Biblical teaching and worship with others in the Body of Christ.

• Have a Christian education available for their children.

• Have the basic necessities of life: food, water, clothing, shelter and health care.

• Lead a productive life of fulfillment spiritually, mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Which need do you gravitate toward?

7 Spheres of Society


Economics (Science, Technology and Business)




Media (Communication)

Celebration (Arts, Entertainment and Sports)

Which sphere interests you the most?


Which part of the world do you feel most drawn to?

Nation? City? Community? People group? Religious bloc?

Created By
© 2018 stepstudyteach.com All Rights Reserved.


Created with images by Nik Shuliahin - "untitled image" • PublicDomainPictures - "michelangelo abstract boy" • Benny Jackson - "From above." • Darwin Vegher - "untitled image" • NASA - "untitled image" • Louisa Potter - "untitled image" • Martin Adams - "untitled image" • pixel2013 - "book star open book" • Benjamin Grull - "untitled image" • mauro mora - "Crosswalk in long-exposure" • Bank Phrom - "Solar Eclipse 2017" • TheAndrasBarta - "world europe map connections network continent travel" • rliessum - "western wall jerusalem jews pray orthodox holy" • qimono - "question mark knowledge question" • MAKY_OREL - "the catacombs cellar the underground middle ages" • Jez Timms - "Spotlight in a cave" • Mike Kenneally - "Rock Of Cashel, Ireland" • bodsa - "whitby abbey ruins history england church old" • Momentmal - "monastery mountain top" • laterjay - "monk garden statuary" • Ali Arif Soydaş - "untitled image" • albersHeinemann - "travel sculpture statue" • Hans - "fire flame barbecue charcoal carbon hot burn" • Patrice_Audet - "press gutenberg printing house paper print out" • PublicDomainPictures - "chains feet sand bondage prison freedom punishment" • falco - "martin luther protestant statue monument figure reformation" • photosforyou - "zurich historic center churches" • Veytaux - "lake geneva lutry lake" • Paul Hanaoka - "untitled image" • Heidi Sandstrom. - "untitled image" • Heidi Sandstrom. - "untitled image" • Heidi Sandstrom. - "untitled image" • stokpic - "hands world map global earth globe blue"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.