Zinzendorf and Moravian Missionary Principles (3/4)

Zinzendorf and Moravian Missionary Principles (3/4)

Section 3: Moravian Thought, Continued

The Moravians introduced the idea of a whole church on mission.   It was not up to missionary societies to reach the lost, but churches themselves need to raise up missionaries to go, devoting themselves to prayer.[1]  Most Moravian missionaries were not highly educated, but were lay people from the church.  They used their skills to support themselves as missionaries, following the tent making strategy of Paul.  Zinzendorf believed that those involved in commerce and trade, more so than factory work or farming, would make great missionaries since they have flexibility to move and their profession can provide interactions and opportunities to present the gospel in conversation with the communities they are trying to reach.[2] 

Missionaries should be happy and joyful, having their life be an example of Christ to those they are trying to reach as they live by the power of the Spirit.  They need to be humble, not wanting to rule over the lost, but instead work alongside them to share the gospel.  This means learning the native language and respecting the culture.  Zinzendorf did not wish to see Herrnhut multiply across the world but instead wanted the gospel to adapt to the culture to the point where the natives lead the church.  This also meant that he did not want any denominational preference to arise.  He simply wanted Christ to be preached and wanted to avoid any sectarianism that could arise.[3]  This most likely stemmed from his experience at university in Halle and Wittenberg where he found the ecumenical balance between Pietism and Lutheranism.

A key aspect of Moravian mission was a focus on those who are marginalized in society.  This meant going to countries that were overlooked by others and going to those like slaves and Native Americans who were passed off as not worth the time to evangelize.  This love for the marginalized came from the Moravian’s own experience of wandering Europe searching for a home.[4]  Using the first fruit principles, missionaries could seek out those whom society had ignored and share with them the good news of Christ.


[1] Schattschneider, “Pioneers in Mission,” 64; Mulholland, “Moravians, Puritans, and the Modern Missionary Movement,” 224.

[2] Mulholland, “Moravians, Puritans, and the Modern Missionary Movement,” 224.

[3] Schattschneider, “Pioneers in Mission,” 66; Gallagher, “The Integration of Mission and Theology Practice,” 195-196. 

[4] Gallagher, “The Integration of Mission and Theology Practice,” 193; Mulholland, “Moravians, Puritans, and the Modern Missionary Movement,” 225.

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