Lists:  All Progress Levels

The Joshua Project Progress Scale is an estimate of the progress of church planting among a people group, people cluster, country or language. The scale is derived from people group values for percent Evangelical and percent Christian Adherent. See the table and explanation below for level descriptions, criteria, counts and population summaries.

Every individual is equally valuable and equally lost without Jesus Christ. However, people groups have varying levels of exposure and response to the gospel. The Progress Scale is an attempt to avoid the perception that unreached / reached is an off / on toggle. Please note the diagram below showing the Progress Scale overlaid on the Gray Matrix.

Click column headings for sorting ▲▼
Description Criteria People
% of People
Population % of World


Few evangelicals and few who identify as Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Evangelicals <= 2%
Professing Christians <= 5%
6,991 41.5 % 3,158,203,000 42.3 %


Minimally reached
Few evangelicals, but significant number who identify as Christians.
Evangelicals <= 2%
Professing Christians > 5% and <= 50%
1,104 6.6 % 234,267,000 3.1 %


Superficially reached
Few evangelicals, but many who identify as Christians. In great need of spiritual renewal and commitment to biblical faith.
Evangelicals <= 2%
Professing Christians > 50%
1,698 10.1 % 535,129,000 7.2 %


Partially reached
Evangelicals have a modest presence.
Evangelicals > 2% and <= 10%
3,782 22.5 % 2,078,382,000 27.8 %


Significantly reached
Evangelicals have a significant presence.
Evangelicals > 10%
3,257 19.4 % 1,466,503,000 19.6 %
Totals:     16,832   7,472,484,000  

Figure 1. shows the Joshua Project Progress levels plotted in the various Gray Matrix quadrants. The Gray Matrix is a helpful evaluation tool. "It separates out knowledge (cognitive) elements into the vertical axis (y-axis) while attitudinal dimensions belong to the horizontal (x-axis)." The further to the left and down, the greater the need. Thus the red (unreached) groups are in the lower left quadrant.

It can be debated which groups are needier: orange or yellow? Orange has less knowledge, but more open attitude, while yellow has greater knowledge, but more closed attitude. Which is more needy? A case could be made for either orange or yellow. We encourage individuals and organizations to make use of these category distinctions in line with their ministry focus and priority.

Joshua Project welcomes feedback and critique of the Progress Scale. If you have thoughts or ideas, please contact us.

Figure 1: Joshua Project Progress levels and the Gray Matrix:  A matrix that plots spiritual awareness vs attitude.

  1. Joshua Project defines "unreached" as less than 2% Evangelical and less than 5% Christian Adherent. An unreached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.
  2. From 6/2016 to 11/2016, Joshua Project purposely had the Orange and Yellow categories reversed. The intent was to highlight people groups with very high Christian Adherents but very few Evangelicals. Examples would be:
    • Formerly reached - people groups like the Catalonians of Spain where the Christianity of this group is mostly inherited and now mainly disregarded as most Catalonians are agnostic or atheist.
    • Falsely reached - people groups like the Metlatonoc Mixteco of Mexico who are almost totally "Christian", but only a tiny fraction are evangelical. The “Christianity” of this group is highly mixed with animism and tribal religious traditions and basically unrecognizable as biblical Christianity.
  3. After significant debate and feedback from mission leaders, we have now moved Orange and Yellow back to the numerically correct sequence. This was done for several reasons:
    • With the previous Orange and Yellow arrangement a group could move from Red to Yellow and then back to Orange as the % Christian Adherent increased.
    • The higher the % Christian Adherent the greater the likelihood of true Christ-followers who would not label themselves as "Evangelical" even though they held to Evangelical beliefs and practices.
    • Rather than simply presenting the data and allowing users to draw conclusions, Joshua Project was introducing a perspective or viewpoint on top of the data.

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