Another view of people groups

Looking at the Joshua Project’s catalog of people groups, here’s two different views.

The first is by JP’s own internal levels. These are based on % Evangelical (Ev) and % Christian of all kinds (C).

  • Level 1 (Unreached, Ev<=2%, C<=5%): 7,075 groups = 3.1 billion (41% of world)
  • Level 2 (Minimally reached, Ev<=2%, C>5%,<=50%): 1,213 groups = 294 million (3.8% of world)
  • Level 3 (Superficially reached, Ev<=2%, C>=50%): 1,774 groups = 534 million (7.0% of world)
  • Level 4 (Partially reached, Ev 2% to 10%): 3,726 groups = 1.9 billion (25% of world)
  • Level 5 (Significantly reached, Ev >10%): 3,224 groups = 1.7 billion (22% of world)

Careful note: these are the populations of the groups at the stage. Within each of these levels are varying numbers of believers. For example, I estimate based on JP data that Level 1 (Unreached) contains some 16 million Christians and 5 million evangelicals. But, as we might expect, the vast majority of believers and evangelicals are found at Levels 4 and 5.

Now, by contrast, I’m experimenting with a different approach these days, based in part on some of Hans Rosling’s (posthumously published) work in Factfulness. Using 5 stages based on % Christian of all kinds:

  • Stage 0 (0.0% Christian, none known): 4,107 groups = 755 million (9% of world)
  • Stage 1 (<2% Christian): 2,295 groups = 2.1 billion people (28% of world)
  • Stage 2 (2% to <8% Christian): 1,194 groups = 374 million (4.9% of world)
  • Stage 3 (8% to <32% Christian): 1,742 groups = 1.7 billion (22.5% of world)
  • Stage 4 (32% to <90% Christian): 4,917 groups = 1.6 billion (21.6% of world)
  • Stage 5 (90% and up): 2,757 groups = 963 million (12.6% of world)

I use this latter appraoch because it’s somewhat simpler and relies on a doubling of the percentages, which lends itself well to tracking exponential growth.

It is interesting to me that in either approach, there is a ‘dip’ between the ‘very unreached’ (Level 1 for JP, and Stage 0/1 for my system) and the ‘more reached’ (level 4/5 for JP, and Stage 3 and up for me).

In the JP system, Level 2 (Ev<2%, C>5%) is the smallest, with a population of 294 million. In mine, Stage 2 (2% to 8% C) is the smallest by far, with a population of 374 million.

What to make of this? One theory of mine: once a people group has the gospel, it tends to progress rapidly to higher levels of % Christian. Another theory: we put a lot of work into groups that have the gospel, to ‘bring them up’ to higher levels of % Christian, while Stage 0/1 languish.

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