Why Include Adherents When Defining Unreached?

In 1995 a committee of Patrick Johnstone (then Editor of Operation World), John Gilbert (then IMB Global Research Office Director), Ron Rowland (SIL / Ethnologue researcher), Frank Jansen (then Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse Director) and Luis Bush (then AD2000 & Beyond Movement Director) decided the Joshua Project definition of “unreached”. The criteria for unreached on the Joshua Project list are: less than 2% Evangelical AND less than 5% Christian Adherent. Both conditions must be met to be considered unreached. The terms "Evangelical" and "Christian Adherent" follow the traditional Operation World definitions which can be found here.

The 5% Adherent criterion was included in the definition of unreached to differentiate between a people group in Afghanistan with 0% Evangelicals and 0% Christian Adherents with no Christian heritage, no access to a Bible, no church, no Christian broadcasts, training, literature, etc. compared to a people group in say Western Europe that may have only a few true Christ-followers but a high number of Christian Adherents with a Christian heritage and access to Bibles, fellowship, broadcasts, training, literature etc. Certainly individuals within these two groups are equally lost, yet one people group is considered unreached while the other would be considered in need of renewal and evangelism. The 5% Christian Adherent criterion helps define the spiritual "environment" (for lack of a better word) of a particular people group.

Patrick Johnstone makes the following observation "We cannot avoid the fact that a Christianized people is a very different challenge for evangelism than a non-Christian people. They may need a personal meeting with Jesus just as much and be equally darkened in their understanding of the Gospel, but you insult them and prejudice your outreach if this is not taken into consideration. Hence my plea that both criteria be retained."

The Joshua Project % Christian Adherent data is people group specific and comes from the following sources: primarily - Operation World supplemental data, Patrick Johnstone, World Christian Database and secondarily - field missionaries and researchers, denominational data and the Ethnologue.

Shaikia, Arabized of Sudan
Population:  975,000
Status: Unreached
Aweer of Kenya
Population:  8,800
Status: Unreached
Hajam of Nepal
Population:  35,000
Status: Unreached
Khampti, Khamti Shan of Myanmar (Burma)
Population:  9,000
Status: Unreached
Nepali, general of Myanmar (Burma)
Population:  297,000
Status: Unreached
Kim Mun of Vietnam
Population:  207,000
Status: Unreached
Ergong of China
Population:  51,000
Status: Unreached
Lohana of India
Population:  615,000
Status: Unreached
Malay, East Malaysia of Malaysia
Population:  280,000
Status: Unreached
Bhar of India
Population:  1,823,000
Status: Unreached

Mission Question
How many people groups in Central Asia larger than 500,000 in size are unreached?  Answer ...

Unreached Peoples Fact
1,985 people groups reside in more than one country, summing to 6,179,000,000 individuals.  More Mission Facts ...

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