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The modern innovations that make possible the virtual pastoral presence of the multisite church movement reflect contemporary illustrations of a consistent pattern found within the history of American Evangelicalism. Such innovations were evident in the modernity of eighteenth century missionary efforts in India, to the nineteenth and twentieth century tools of revivalism found in the ministries of Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham, as well as the innovation at the heart of certain technologies that undergird the ecclesiology and soteriology of 21st century Evangelical churches.

This dissertation explores those innovative dynamics. It will be organized around five chapters along with an introduction and conclusion. It begins by outlining a series of significant examples through which innovation expanded the scope and activities of the modern missions movement. These technologies include modes of global travel, the translation of the biblical texts into the vernacular, and the globalization of gospel work in new native lands, each providing resources for shaping theology and praxis in American Evangelicalism. As the Puritans settled in the New World, they benefited from their new religious and geographic environment to create a unique identity that fostered an expectation that modern innovation would be leveraged to help sinners experience the Divine and unite with local congregations.

This revivalism, marked with the basic American principle that all social organizations are based on voluntary choices and relationships, fostered denominational competition that forced many church leaders to leverage modern innovation in an effort to attract new believers. This change of method also changed the Evangelical message; in particular, conversion became normative and new methods became the tool for bringing about this increased local church engagement. As contemporary Evangelical communities embraced these new tools, it did so in ways that had dramatic impact on the nature of Evangelicalism in America.

Content Reader: Bill J. Leonard, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Leonard, Bill J.

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Evangelicalism; Church; History of doctrines; Salvation


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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