Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ. Accurate, regularly updated ethnic people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Jesus directly links His return to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. While no one knows the date or time of His return, we do know that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the nations first. Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-10 show that there will be some from every tribe, tongue, nation and people before the Throne.
Joshua Project seeks to answer the questions that result from the Great Commission's call to make disciples among every nation or people group:
-Who are the ethnic people groups of the world? -Which people groups still need initial church-planting in their midst? -What ministry resources are available to reach least-reached?
Joshua Project gathers, integrates and shares people group information to encourage pioneer church-planting movements among every ethnic group and to facilitate effective coordination of mission agency efforts. Joshua Project compiles the work of numerous missions researchers to develop a list of all ethnic peoples that is as complete as possible. Many errors, duplicates, and overlaps exist and the data is continually being updated. We welcome feedback of all kinds!
From this overall ethnic people group list, a subset of unreached / least-reached peoples has been identified based on the criteria of less than 2% Evangelical and less than 5% Christian Adherent. This subset helps focus attention on the unfinished task of the Great Commission. We desire that this list be used by mission agencies, denominiations, churches and missionaries to accelerate the Gospel's advance into each of the least-reached people groups. Joshua Project has also developed a Progress Scale indicating a spectrum of reachedness rather than a simple on / off indicator.
Joshua Project was originally birthed in 1995 within the former AD2000 and Beyond Movement. From 2001 through 2005 Joshua Project was at different times informally connected with Caleb Project, ICTA and World Help.
In 2006 Joshua Project officially became a ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.
The original Joshua Project list was a cooperative and globally accepted list of the largest unreached ethno-linguistic people groups and related ministry activity data. The Joshua Project list attempted to provide a clear goal of pioneer church-planting among the largest unreached peoples. Joshua Project has since expanded this list to all unreached / least-reached peoples regardless of size and moved from a purely ethno-linguistic to an ethnic people focus.
Strategic - We help mission strategists who ask, "Where is the greatest need?" Our desire is to help focus the Church on the most spiritually needy ethnic people groups. Effective - We seek to maximize the effectiveness of Kingdom resources by helping identify and reduce duplication of effort between ministries through data sharing. Comprehensive - Our emphasis is on comprehensiveness, to see that the Church is initially established in all the world's ethnic peoples. Our method has been "when in doubt include a people group on the list" to insure that no groups are overlooked. Neutral - We are a neutral, low-profile ministry, serving the global missions community. Grassroots - We encourage grassroots initiatives and seek input from those actually doing onsite work. Priority is given to updates made by local and national researchers. Openhanded - We provide all data and services at no charge and we desire individuals and agencies in all parts of the world to have access to unreached peoples data.
We serve missions agencies, denominations, churches, and individuals around the world that have a heart for pioneer church-planting among the world's least-reached people groups. Data is gathered from a worldwide constituency of field workers and their agencies, brought together into a database, and within security guidelines, provided free of charge to the global Church.
Regular users and providers of Joshua Project data include: international researchers and church-planters, local churches and individuals, denominations and mission agencies.
Field workers utilize the information for building prayer and vision for their ministries and discovering what ministry tools may be available. Local churches see value for missions mobilization, and for finding agencies with whom they can partner to see pioneer churches established among unreached / least-reached people groups. Mission agencies use the data to strategically determine where to send new church-planting teams and for partnership development to avoid duplication and waste of kingdom resources.