What Is an UPG?

UPG stands for Unreached People Group. Okay. Unreached? By whom? Why is anyone trying to “reach” these groups?

One more question…what is a “people group”?

I have spent nearly all of my 55 years on this world in the United States, like 99+% of my life. My family took me to church from the time I was a baby, so I have heard about who Jesus Christ is many, many times over. I still attend church. I even served a few times on the staff of churches. I have told the story about Jesus Christ many times.

I have heard about Jesus Christ so many times in my 55 years that sometimes I become nonchalant about this redemption story.

If you are from the United States or another western nation, odds are, even if you never have stepped foot into a church and didn’t grow up in a Christian home, you have heard about Jesus Christ.

This fact makes it hard to comprehend that there are people, not just individuals, but entire people groups who have never, not even once, heard the name of Jesus Christ, much less heard the redemption story.

People Groups

Let’s get back to those questions beginning with what is a people group. A people group in the context of spreading the Good News is “the largest group of people within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance” (Source: 1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting.)

People within a group need to understand one another’s language. And in some cultures, they also need to accept one another, for example, if their culture is based on a caste system, it won’t matter if they speak the same language, they won’t interact.

Joshua Project estimates that there are approximately 9800 people groups when political boundaries are disregarded.

Unreached People Group

Now that we have an understanding of what a people group is, what is an unreached people group?

An unreached or least-reached 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.Joshua Project

If you use the same criteria as above and count people groups that exist across country boundaries, the estimated number of unreached people groups numbers around 4000. That means about 41% of the world is unreached.

Why does it matter?

If you are a Christian that is attuned to the will of God for this world, it should matter a lot. It should matter so much that you are willing to change your life focus, how you handle your resources, and your priorities.

In my recent post about the 10/40 Window I quote Matthew 24:14 which basically tells us that when every ethnic group (people group) hears the Good News, Jesus will return.

That is why it should matter.

3 Things we can do now:

  1. Learn about unreached people groups. I have added to my website a tool that shows a different unreached people group each day. This helps me to learn about where and who these groups are.
  2. Ask God how He wants you to be a part of reaching these groups. It’s not up to us individually to reach all the unreached people. That doesn’t mean that we can do nothing either.
  3. Find out if your church is involved with reaching an unreached people group. Each church should prioritize reaching at least one unreached people group without sacrificing what God is calling that church too already. We have the resources, we just need the focus.

Do you or your church focus on reaching an unreached people group? If so, please share in the comments below.

Get Your Free Copy!


No one enjoys going through the motions each day. Find out what your mission is in life! Get your free copy of 21 Ways To Discover Your Mission In Life.

Powered by ConvertKit

I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.