Some people groups have thriving, evangelizing churches already living among them. Odds are, if you are taking this topic in a local church, your people group falls in this category. We refer to these as reached people groups.
This does not mean that everyone in the people group is a believer. It doesn’t even mean that everyone in the people group has heard the gospel. It simply means that there are disciples and churches within the people group who able to finish the task. It means that lost people in that people group have access to the gospel, whether they have actually heard it or not. Disciples and churches within that people group can evangelize and disciple the people around them better than anyone else, and that responsibility rests on them.
An unreached people group (UPG) is one that does not have Christian disciples and churches in it that are able to carry the gospel to the rest of the group. It may have no believers in it at all. It may have a few, but they are too few and too new in the faith to finish the task without outside help. Lost people in this people group have no access to the gospel, and the vast majority of them will live and die without ever meeting a Christian, ever seeing a Bible, or ever hearing the only message that can rescue them from the condemnation we all deserve. The responsibility for sharing the gospel with these people groups falls squarely on the global church.
Editor’s Note: The above is an excerpt used by permission from the International Mission Board’s website. This portion and the rest of the article can be found at https://www.imb.org/topic/explore-missions/missions-and-world-today/lesson-1-unreached-and-unengaged-people-groups/ as part of their “Missions and the World Today” online curriculum.