This is an article from the May-June 1995 issue: A Church Planting Movement Within Every People

Definitions: Key Terms In This Issue of MF

Definitions: Key Terms In This Issue of MF

In introducing the key terms below for the concept of Unreached Peoples, it is necessary to understand that the primary definition is the concept of "reaching" a group by means of planting a church that is culturally relevant. We believe,with the 1982 leaders, that the most worthy opportunity individuals can have to accept Christ is to be invited into the accountable fellowship of a vital church movement within their own cultural sphere. Planting such a movement within a formerly unpenetrated group is the unique and primary function of a mission agency. Once that is done (or is projected) the estimated sphere within which that movement will be relevant then becomes the definition of the kind and size of group which is strategically meaningful to frontier-minded mission agencies. Such a group has been called a "unimax" group-the maximum sized group still sufficiently unified to be reached by a single church movement. Note that this key concept means some well-known groups are too large (e.g. Kurds), and are in effect "clusters" of unreached groups. Other groups may be too small (taxi drivers) for a full-blown church movement to be planted.

Adopt-A-People Movement: A global movement focused on making the gospel of Christ available by the year 2000 to over 2 billion individuals presently living in an estimated 10,000 people groups where there is no witnessing church. The heart of the Adopt-A-People strategy is the linking together of a local body of believers with a mission agency that has "selected" a number of people groups for missionary penetration. The local fellowship adopts one of these people groups-partnering with the mission agency through fervent prayer, serious giving and possibly sending its own members- until the establishment of a strong church movement is able to thoroughly evangelize that people group.

Mission Agency: An organization of committed Christians with the necessary skills, training, structure and resources to reach out to other cultures not having the gospel to establish Christ's Church among them. This includes denomin-ational and interdenominational agencies.

People Group (or People): A significantly large ethnic or sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity for one another. For evangelistic purposes, it is the largest group within which the gospel can spread as a church- planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.*

Unreached People (sometimes called "Hidden Peoples"): A people group among which there is no indigen- ous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their people group without requiring outside (cross-cultural) assistance.*

Therefore a group is considered reached if it has a viable, indigenous, self-reproducing church movement in its midst. This means a people group has strong churches pastored by their own people using their own language and these churches are actively evangelizing their people and planting daughter churches.

Stages in Reaching an Unreached People Group Terms and definitions used based on the above definitions.

  • Stage 1--"Reported",The people group is reported to be unreached.*
  • Stage 2--"Verified",A reliable source verifies that the group meets the qualifi-cations of a people group and that they are unreached. *
  • Stage 3--"Evaluated",Research and evaluation is done on the people so that Christians outside the group can decide to reach them.*
  • Stage 4--"Selected",A mission agency capable of reaching the group has made the commitment to do so.*
  • Stage 5--"Adopted",One, or several, churches or fellowship groups (could be a mission fellowship, student group, Sunday School class, etc.) has made the establishment of a strong church among the unreached people group their personal goal. They agree to support the work with prayers and finances. The mission agency they are partnering with has the needed resources and a team ready (or soon to be ready) to begin the work.*
  • Stage 6--"Engaged",The work has begun, and cross-cultural workers are "on site" with the goal of establishing a "viable, indigenous church- planting movement."*
  • Stage 7--"Reached",A strong, indigen- church-planting movement has been established that is of sufficient size and strength to evangelize the rest of the group with no (or very little) outside help.*

Peoples Information Network (PIN): A global network of mission researchers working cooperatively to acquire, manage and share information about the peoples of the world.

The Registry of Peoples and Languages (ROPAL): The Summer Institute of Linguistics' listing of the languages of mankind and the people who speak them. SIL uses ROPAL to determine translation needs worldwide.

AAP Clearinghouse: An Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse is a computer database tracking the status of missionary activity among the remaining unreached people groups. It should track which agencies are working with a given group and how many churches have adopted that group. There are AAP clearinghouses functioning in several countries with more starting up rapidly. They will all exchange data regularly as part of the Peoples Information Network keeping each other up to date in order to serve the mission agencies in their region.

The AD2000 and Beyond Movement: An umbrella organization encouraging thousands of Christian organizations worldwide to network and cooperate together to accomplish the goal of "A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000."


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