Pioneer evangelism and church planting among unreached peoples is at the heart of the Lausanne Movement. Almost 50 years ago, at the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, Dr. Ralph D. Winter launched the unreached peoples movement with a clarion call to cross-cultural evangelism as “The Highest Priority.” He summoned the Church to wrestle with the cultural, linguistic and communication barriers affecting gospel advance into “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9; 7:9).
The Lausanne movement remains committed to that goal. The Cape Town Commitment affirms:
Love also demands that we seek to make the gospel known among every people and culture everywhere…We confess with shame that there are still very many peoples in the world who have never yet heard the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ. We renew the commitment that has inspired The Lausanne Movement from its beginning, to use every means possible to reach all peoples with the gospel. (Cape Town Commitment, I-7:B, emphasis added)
The newly relaunched Least Reached Peoples Network exists to encourage, equip, and empower the global Church to establish movements of disciples and churches among all unengaged, under-engaged and unreached peoples. Among these ethnolinguistic, sociocultural, and affinity groups, church movements—viable, culturally relevant, disciple making fellowships—have yet to be established. These peoples, primarily Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Ethnic religionists, comprise 3.37 billion people without access to the Gospel.
Mission information workers estimate 7,425 ethnolinguistic peoples are “unreached” (UPG), that is, they lack enough indigenous followers of Christ to evangelize their own people. Some 4,992 of these are “frontier people groups” (FPG), with virtually no Christ followers. Almost 1600 people groups are “unengaged” (UUPG)—no team or organization has made plans to reach them. Due to globalization, urbanization, and migration, many UPGs are scattered across the world—making them geographically, if not culturally, within reach. Pioneer cross-cultural witnesses—both near-neighbor and expatriate—are still needed!
While other Lausanne issue groups embrace aspects of global evangelism, this network is focused on “using every means possible” to promote pioneering, innovative, and collaborative initiatives to reach the world’s Least Reached Peoples.
The Least Reached Peoples network:
- Heightens the profile and spiritual needs of unengaged, under-engaged, and unreached people groups across the Lausanne movement and global Church.
- Fosters reflection on cultural barriers, accelerators, challenges, and opportunities for pioneer gospel engagement.
- Connects with Lausanne networks and regions intersecting with unreached peoples.
- Collaborates with other global and regional networks.
- Organizes gatherings to cast vision and increase understanding of global trends, critical issues, innovative strategies, and fruitful practices.
- Facilitates training in frontier missiology and the dynamics of pioneer disciple making for church and mission leaders, especially younger leaders, women leaders, and emerging leaders from the Global South.
- Encourages and shares research, reports, and lessons learned from field praxis.
- Produces resources of enduring value for mobilization, strategizing, and biblical and missiological reflection on gospel advances among unreached peoples.
The Least Reached Peoples Network builds on collegial relationships with mission, church and organizational leaders and the ever-growing web of mission networks. The latter includes influential thought leaders, practitioners, mobilizers, and regional networks in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa/Middle East, the Sahel and Sub-Sahara Africa, along with collaboratives focused on specific people groups or blocks of UPGs.