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.

Ergong of China
Population:  63,000
Status: Unreached
Kanuri, Manga of Niger
Population:  623,000
Status: Unreached
Manipuri, Ponna of Myanmar (Burma)
Population:  12,000
Status: Unreached
Lao Phuan of Laos
Population:  142,000
Status: Unreached
Nosu, Xiaoliangshan of China
Population:  544,000
Status: Unreached
Teli (Muslim traditions) of Pakistan
Population:  2,750,000
Status: Unreached
Fulani, Jelgooji of Burkina Faso
Population:  391,000
Status: Unreached
Bedouin, Berabish of Mali
Population:  184,000
Status: Unreached
Malay, East Malaysia of Malaysia
Population:  292,000
Status: Unreached
Koli (Hindu traditions) of India
Population:  13,278,000
Status: Unreached

Mission Question
How many Muslim people groups in South Asia are larger than 1,000,000 in size?  Answer ...

Unreached Peoples Fact
Papua New Guinea has the largest number of groups whose primary religion is Christianity (803), followed by Indonesia with 375.  More Mission Facts ...

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