“Rethinking Missionaries” from 1910 to Today

Dana L. Robert


Rapid political and social changes during the twentieth century prompted changing understandings of what it meant to be a foreign missionary. After tracing several of the ways in which American Methodist missionaries conceived of their roles over the past hundred years, the essay queries the meaning of the apostolic call for United Methodist missionaries in the twenty-first century. The author argues that “rethinking missionaries” demands a critical imagination that simultaneously draws upon the fullness of the past while nurturing creative grassroots vitality in the present.  Representative of the church’s biblical calling to be sent into the world, the idea of missionaries should be reinvigorated even if, or perhaps especially when, they are defined outside of failing denominational structures.


Missionaries; Mission; Apostolic Vocation

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Methodist Review, ISSN: 1946-5254 (online), copyright © 2009-2019 by The Methodist Review, Inc.