The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

What is the origin and history of Joshua Project?

Joshua Project was launched by the AD2000 & Beyond Movement in 1995 as an initiative to bring focus to the largest unreached ethno-linguistic people groups in the world. It was an intregral part of AD2000 & Beyond from 1995 to 2000. The original Joshua Project list became a catalytic benchmark of the largest people groups most needing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The original Joshua Project list was compiled in 1994 and 1995 by combining people group data from International Mission Board-Southern Baptist, Operation World and the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and others. A lowest common denominator was used meaning a group had to be on all four lists to be considered part of the original Joshua Project list.

An Editorial Committee was established with representatives from each of the organizations that provided the initial data. The list was originally released in December 1995 and was continually updated through 2000. The editorial committee established the following unreached criteria:
  1. Country-distinct peoples - if a single people live in more than one country they are counted as many times as countries they live in. For example, the Kazakh people live in nine Central Asian countries. They appear nine times on the Joshua Project list.
  2. Population - 10,000 and above in a given country.
  3. Ethno-linguistic distinction - peoples are defined by their ethno-linguistic characteristics only. Cultural, social and religious distinctions are not included in this list.
  4. Less than 2% Evangelical (true regenerate believers)
  5. Less than 5% Christian adherents (broadest possible definition of Christian, includes nominal, Orthodox, Catholic, anyone that would call themselves a Christian. Not necessarily regenerate.)

Three progress milestones were determined:

1. Ministry Commitment / Engaged - Answers the question "Has any ministry reported a commitment to future church planting among this people?" No ministry commitment / engaged means that there is no reported on-site church planting effort and no mission organization has reported committing itself to church planting among this people.

2. On-site Church Planting team - Answers the question "Is there an on-site church planting team among this people?" Must be a long-term committed team of at least two on-site church planters.

3. An indigenous fellowship of at least 100 believers - Answers the question "Is there a healthy, indigenous, reproducing fellowship of at least 100 believers among this people?" Does not have to be a single fellowship but can be several fellowship totaling at least 100 believers. Seperate fellowships must be aware of the other groups and recognize themselves as a distinct church.

In 2001, after the close of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, Joshua Project staff continued on with the compiling and distributing of unreached peoples. The vision was expanded to include all peoples regardless of size and to sharpen the focus to ethnic peoples allowing distinctives other than language only to define a people. See Definitions for further details.

Why gather and integrate all this data?

The Joshua Project team desires to "demonstrate and spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ." (from Desiring God Ministries) To that end, we want to serve the Christian missions community and the least-reached peoples in any way possible. Please contact us if you have updated people group information or want to register your ministry commitment to a particular people group. We would like to help connect Christians who have a particular least-reached peoples focus with others of like-mind. We long for the King's return and know that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations and then the end shall come." (Matt 24:14.) We want to see the Lord's name and fame lifted up among all peoples of the earth for He is worthy of the worship from every tribe, tongue and nation.

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