Missionary Impulse in North American History

The Missionary Impulse in North American History project aimed to use the missionary impulse as a lens examining aspects of North American culture.


Historians, missiologists, and other scholars increasingly recognize how important the foreign missionary impulse has been in North American religious life, and the connection to social, economic, and political matters in the larger culture. However, nearly all scholarly attention to the missionary endeavor has focused almost exclusively on the impact of North American missions on foreign soil and cultures.

More precisely, this project was used to explore the connection between the missionary experience and dimensions of North American life and culture including the following: Religion (congregational life, denominations, parachurch organizations, theology); Culture (art, literature, media, music, popular culture); Society & Institutions (education, gender, family); Public Life & Policy (business/trade, international relations, politics). The aim was to discover how the missionary impulse in its various forms acted as a gateway for understanding life in North America.

In conjunction with the Missionary Project, Daniel Bays and Grant Wacker completed editing the book The Foreign Missionary Enterprise at Home: Explorations in North American Cultural History (University of Alabama, 2003).  

The three year grant for this project was provided to the ISAE from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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