As we speak with many in the church, there is a general misunderstanding of Matthew 28:18-19; “And Jesus came and said to them…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The Greek word for “nations” is “ethnē” from which we get the English word “ethnic.”
What distinguishes one people group from another?
The traditional definition has been, "For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance"
Ideally, "people group" would always be defined to mean (a) all individuals in the group understand each other reasonably well and (b) cultural/relationship barriers are not so high that the transmission of the Gospel is seriously hindered. This is the goal, and this is what Joshua Project and NFI strives towards. However, there are situations where compromises are in order.
Let's consider the most complicated case, India. If we strictly defined "people group" this way in India, all individuals in each people group would speak the same language and would be in the same caste or tribe. Easily done, but what would it lead to? We would immediately create over potentially over 20,000 people groups in India alone, using the excellent Omid data for India. (Some castes speak 50-60 languages.) This would be overwhelming, from a ministry perspective. Is this the best way to serve church planters and other workers on the field?
Tomorrow we will look at some barriers to defining people groups and factors used in the process.
Used by permission from Joshua Project - https://joshuaproject.net/resources/
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