Helpful Definitions (Words and Terms)

The world is divided into political countries, but the Bible shows that God sees the world as many families and people groups speaking different languages, and with different histories. India, for example, is one political COUNTRY but it has over 3,000 different people groups (ethnē). These people groups each have their own special identity, languages, cultural traditions, marry within their group and resist outside influences.To reach all these people groups, researchers and strategists have developed the following terminology to help identify where the need for additional laborers and resources is greatest.

People Group or Nation (ethne): A family line seeking to preserve its generational identity (shared history and ancestry, like the people or nation of Israel in the Bible). To preserve this identity, nations maintain their traditions, intermarry, and resist outside influences (often, including the gospel). In urban areas ethnic identities are sometimes replaced by affinity groups, as people still need a group to belong to and be identified with, but such groups are not as strong or enduring as blood lineages.

Evangelicals: Researchers count these by denominational adherence to Biblical faith. This guide uses published figures for Evangelicals, Charismatics and Pentecostals to estimate a global count for Spirit-led Christ-followers—who want others to share the blessing they enjoy, of a loving relationship with God based on faith in Jesus.

Reached People Groups: Reached groups have enough believers living among them that people know about Jesus and can choose to follow Him, they have Bibles they can read and communities of believers that can reach out to them who speak their own language. They have more than 2 evangelicals for every 100 people (2%) and 5% who identify with Christianity.

Unreached People Groups (UPGs): UPGs are no more than 5% Christian of any kind and no more than 2% Evangelical (2 out of every 100 people), so the message of Jesus is not known widely and has little impact on their people group. However, many of these groups now have movements to Jesus underway and it is possible to partner with national believers in the 40% of UPGs that aren’t FPGs.

Frontier People Groups (FPGs): FPGs are the least-reached subset of UPGs and make up 60% of the UPGs. They may have had cross-cultural witnesses for years or even centuries, but still have almost no Jesus-followers (less than 1 out of 1000). So, people in FPGs may never meet someone who knows Jesus in their entire life, and there are still no self-spreading movements to Jesus in their people group strong enough to reach the whole group over time. Pioneer workers are needed.

Unengaged: “Unengaged” people groups are UPGs or FPGs with no known laborers among them seeking to start Jesus movements. They are commonly referred to as UUPGs.

Pioneer Workers: When there are no known believers, pioneer workers seek to establish the first “household of peace” (Luke 10) or first community of believing households within an FPG so that others can see that they can also follow Christ without betraying their people.

Jesus Movement: Faith in Jesus multiplying rapidly through households and other existing relational networks, powered by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus tells us in Mt.24:14, that his message “will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (ethnē), and then the end will come.” Jesus’ disciple John writes in Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 that in his vision he saw people from every people group on earth standing before God’s throne at the end of time. Jesus’ disciple Peter said that we can help speed up the coming of this day (2 Peter 3:12), by telling all the world’s people groups about Jesus. One fourth of the world still lives in Frontier People Groups—with virtually no contact with Jesus followers, and no sign yet of a gospel movement bringing God’s promised blessing to their families. Nearly half of these households live in these 31 largest Frontier People Groups. Reaching these 31 largest groups we expect and pray will spread the Good News of Jesus to the smaller FPGs living near them. What an amazing opportunity we have to bring God’s blessing to 25% of the world in our day! 

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