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Missionary Motivations

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Shape of Early Christian Mission

Chapter 2: Miracles & Martyrdoms: Expansion within the Roman Empire

Chapter 3: Empires and Trade Routes: Expansion to the East

Chapter 4: The Call of the Desert: Expansion to the South

Chapter 5: Barbarian Gospel: Expansion in Central Europe

Chapter 6: The Distant Islands Shall Rejoice: Expansion in Northern Europe

Chapter 7: The Mission of the Kingdom: Communal Aspects of Missionary Motivation

Chapter 8: Emissaries of the King: Individual Aspects of Missionary Motivation

Chapter 9: Mission in the Spirit of Early Christianity



Missionary Motivations
Challenges from the Early Church
Matthew Burden

Radical Pursuit of a Christlike Life among the Nations

Beginning as an obscure sect in a backwater province of the Roman Empire, the Christian faith radiated out in all directions. What drove this expansion? Where some might think the missionary motivations would be the Great Commission or expressions of concern for non-Christians, which are common today, the early church’s mission was profoundly Christocentric. The focus was exalting the reign of Christ and the pursuit of holiness. Just as the prophets had foretold, the Messianic king had come, and now, reigning at the Father’s right hand, he was drawing all nations to himself.

Missionary Motivations is the story of early Christianity’s startling expansion. From monks to pilgrims to prisoners, early Christian missionaries filled the earth with their message through the humblest of means, all for the glory of Christ the King. Matthew Burden provides missiological insights by helping the reader rediscover the early church's missionary vision for global mission, which stands alongside, supports, and informs the contemporary models.

Missionary Motivations presents a deep look into the mindset that drove missional activity in the early church and explores original themes to inspire and inform the next generation of the church's missional thinkers.


  • Matt Burden not only does a great job walking us through the history of missionary work found in the Church Fathers but also nicely connects it to our present need to be a missional people. Missionary Motivations is not only theologically sound and informative but allows the current missionary minded Christian to connect to the past efforts of the men and women who transformed the world by living the present Kingdom of Christ in their daily lives. I highly recommend this book to every Christian who takes the command to preach the gospel always seriously.
    Father Dominick D. Hankle, PhD Professor of Psychology, Regen University
  • Here is a serious and revealing look at the history and theology of the early centuries of Christian expansion that can powerfully impact and shape the church’s mission today. My four decades of local congregation, frontline missions, and classroom experience convince me that we must dig deeper in our study of the past. Burden is scholarly yet efficient and very approachable in his writing, and clearly summarizes and applies what he discovers. Church leaders, students, and missionaries in preparation must grab and devour Missionary Motivations. If I were back in the classroom, it would be required reading and a platform for healthy and prayerful discussion. What a wonderful addition to some of the great writers and thinkers in mission history, theology and practice that I’ve read in the past! I am so thankful for its potential with the Spirit’s backing to motivate the church live out the reign of Christ today.
    Paul W. Shea, DMiss Emeritus Professor, Missions and Intercultural Studies, Houghton University Missionary in Sierra Leone, W. Africa with Wesleyan Global Partners
  • I recently discussed with an experienced Japanese missionary possible reasons why the church has failed to impact this society. It prepared me to read Missionary Motivations. I found it to be an enjoyable, stimulating, refreshing, and instructive read. It is scholarly but would appeal to many pastors and lay people. It is a must-read contribution to the debate about why the church is failing to impact many societies in today's world. Matt examines some of the possible, diverse reasons for the early amazing, expansion of the early church into Europe, India, Asia, and China. At the same time it reflects upon how the contemporrary church might employ them sensitively and contextually.
    Rev. Roger Tucker, PhD Emeritus Minister, United Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa Research Fellow, Department of Practical Theology, University of the Free State
  • Rarely do I begin making a list of people to whom I’d recommend a book … before I’ve even finished reading the first chapter. But such was the case with Matthew Burden’s Missionary Motivations, a fascinating study of mission motivation in the early church. Where some authors might scratch the surface or succumb to guesswork when the historical data is sometimes sparse, Burden digs out the gold. His discoveries, the found wisdom, and his own insights offer a valuable study that is theologically and practically applicable today. The book’s rich insights from ancient church history can help forge the missional identity of the future. Matthew Burden has made a sizable and very readable contribution to historical mission studies. Missionary Motivations offers a grand challenge to those willing to reflect on the past and act with intentionality in today’s church and mission contexts.
    Susan Van Wynen, PhD Strategy Consultant and Leadership Team Member, Wycliffe Global Alliance

Additional Details

  • Pages: 140
  • Publisher: William Carey Publishing
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publish Year: 2023
  • ISBN: 9781645084754
  • Vendor: William Carey Publishing