World Outreach: From the Director
What it means to plant churches among “Unengaged People Groups”
By Rev. George R. Carey
To best understand “Unreached People Groups” or “Unengaged People Groups” let’s begin with a working definition of “people groups.” Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 that we are to make Christian disciples of all nations (ethne) on earth. The nations or ethne (Greek) is a reference to people groupings. Groupings of people who are separated from others because of their language, geographic placement, or culture.
Often Christians interpret Jesus’ Great Commission to reach all nations to mean all geopolitical nations on earth, nations like India, Russia, Japan. In fact, for instance, India has thousands of “people groups”, same with other “countries.” Best estimates place the number of people groups on earth at 16,000-17,000. Of those, best estimates say that there still remain 4,000-8,000 (depending on the way they are counted) “unreached and unengaged people groups.”
“Unengaged People Groups” is a sub category of “Unreached People Groups.” There is an actual working definition of “Unreached” that means something far different from the expression that an American Christian might say such as, “My neighbor down the street is ‘unreached.” The “unreached” down the street is unreached maybe, but not because there is no church that could reach him but maybe because no nearby Christian has yet shared their life in Christ or the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him. This is not the same as “Unreached People Groups” where there is no Christian church close enough to him to do that.
“Unreached People Groups” have little or no access to the Gospel through a nearby existing gathering of believers. Note they are “Unreached” because of lack of access to a Christian Church, not because a Christian nearby has failed to reach out to them such as in the United States where there may be a Christian Church on every corner. “Unreached People Groups” have no viable, indigenous, evangelizing church among them that can reach the group in culturally relevant ways to make the meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ clear and meaningful. “Unreached People Groups” are typically identified as those people groups that have 2% or less as the number of Christians living among them.
“Unengaged People Groups,” the sub category, don’t even have a 2% Christian presence. “Unengaged People Groups” have typically 0% Christians willing or able to reach them and 0% churches. “Unengaged People Groups” must be engaged by the Christian Church. Engagement, we think, means the establishment of a church planting movement among them, churches that reproduce themselves in a manner such that they deliver leaders and connect to one another much as our Presbyterian connectional system of setting apart elders and organizing presbyteries.
We have learned that out of the world’s 2400 Muslim people groups, fully 1300 have no long--‐term, culturally sensitive, resident, church--‐planting presence.” (Missio Nexus)That is why the major focus of EPC World Outreach is upon reaching Unengaged Muslim People Groups. (www.Engage 2025. org)
To that end, we are developing ministries that support our church planting ministry goals among Muslims including:
- Medical Mission Ministry
- Diaspora Church Planting Stateside
- Business As Mission (BAM)
- Engage 2025 (www.engage2025 .org)
Please prayerfully peruse our web site and determine if/how you might become part of God’s master plan to reach the remaining “Unengaged Muslim People Groups” on earth before the return of His Son to earth.