What are unreached people groups (UPGs)?
What is a people group? A group where the various members share a common culture, language, and self-identity. For strategic purposes, it is the largest group within which the gospel can spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.
Why are they unreached? A people group is considered unreached when there is no indigenous community of Jesus followers able to engage this people group with church-planting. Technically speaking, less than 2 percent of the population actively follows Jesus.
There are nearly one billion people today who have very little or no access to the gospel or any missionary presence. Similar terms include least-reached, unengaged unreached people groups, and last frontier people groups. While there are various terms and sub-categories, the vision is to see every people group reached with an active indigenous church spreading the gospel.
Unreached vs. unengaged
If all of the people groups in the world had an equal distribution of evangelical churches, there would be nearly a thousand churches for each people group. Yet a quarter of the people groups in the world have no church or active missionary presence. These people are Unengaged, Unreached People Groups (UUPG). Though much progress has been made in planting evangelical churches among the unreached, there is still a need to focus on people groups without any access to the gospel.
The term UUPG indicates an ethnic group that does not have a viable, reproducing, evangelical Christian church-planting strategy. According to www.peoplegroups.org, “Gathering believers and planting churches are the keys to establishing an effective and multiplying presence among these people groups.”
Why unreached people groups?
From Genesis to Revelation, God pursues all ethnic people groups to bring them before the throne of God.
By taking a closer look at the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus commands us to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Jesus was not referring to our modern political nations, but the translation in Greek, panta ta ethne, indicates “ethnic group.” He uses the same language in Matthew 24:14.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus desires all people groups to come into the Kingdom of God. Christ commissions us as His ambassadors to go into the whole world to proclaim the good news.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9
Where are unreached people groups?
Christian missionaries coined the term 10/40 Window to signify a geographical region between 10 degrees latitude and 40 degrees latitude. This region covers North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It considered the last frontier for world missions and is home to a majority of unreached people groups. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population live in the 10/40 window. Approximately 90-95 percent of these people are considered unreached. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Non-Religious groups make up the four dominant religions in this area. Interestingly, this region is also where 85% of the world’s poorest live.
The role of the Church – what you can do
International Project focuses our church-planting efforts amongst unreached people groups in urban contexts. Due to recent globalization, New York City is considered the most diverse city in the world, with over 70 unreached people groups. Our pursuit is to see every UUPG and UPG in New York City and have an effective church-planting strategy. This strategy should be capable of expanding beyond the city to reach the 10/40 Window and the world.
At International Project, our goal is to see churches planted in the 10/40 window by focusing our training, discipleship, and church-planting efforts on immigrants and internationals from within this region. We hope to see a church-planting movement spread from NYC back to the 10/40 window through internationals and diaspora groups.
All are called to be global Christians (Mt 28:18-20)
We all have a role in reaching unreached people, such as praying, sending, mobilizing, welcoming and going.
Our 10-Month Equip Missionary Training is designed to get your feet on the ground of the harvest fields and provide hands-on training in reaching the unengaged, unreached people groups in your own background. Whether you take this training back to your hometown or continue mission work overseas, our coaches and mentors will train you to make disciples who in turn also take part in the Great Commission.