Unreached People

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Unreached People by Region

Source: The Joshua Project, 2023

Definition

Unreached people groups are those who lack an indigenous church capable of evangelizing their own people. People groups are distinct social groups where shared language and cultural practices create communal belonging.

Missionary Challenge

The countries that have received the greatest amount of Western missionary attention over two centuries contain the greatest number of unreached and unreached people groups: China and India (which once included Pakistan and Bangladesh).

Countries with Most Unreached People Groups

Source: The Joshua Project, 2023; Numbers are in Millions

Unreached People by Religion

Source: The Joshua Project, 2023

Resistant Islam and Hinduism

The number of unreached among ethnic religions has rapidly declined over the last half-century while the number has grown among Muslims and Hindus. The large population of agnostics is due primarily to China. This population in China is declining, however, as multiple religions, including Christianity, are growing in the country.

While adherents to global religions like Islam and Buddhism remain most resistant to Christianity, nominal believers in either religion are most likely to convert. Conversions by committed Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists are less common.

Changing Paradigms

Even as the number of Unreached People Groups declines, the number of unreached peoples continues to grow. Unreached people are increasingly found among new forms of human community that differ from the ‘ethnolinguistic groups’ that dominated the unreached of prior generations. Urbanization, migration, digital technologies, and the individualism encouraged by a rising global middle class are reshaping cultural belonging. These forces are leading to a greater prevalence of ethnic and linguistic mixing that produce hybrid identities and novel communities. UPG paradigms will need to be complemented by other models for understanding and reaching an unbelieving world.

Unreached People Groups by Religion

Same key as above

Source: The Joshua Project, 2023
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