Making Disciples of All Nations

What Are People Groups?

Jesus asked His followers to go and make disciples all over the world following His ascension into heaven. But with shifting borders and politics, how do we define that today? We must instead define this question: What are people groups?

At the 1982 Lausanne Committee Meeting in Chicago, the worldwide evangelical session defined a people group this way: “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.”[1]

Anthropologically, a people group centers around language, ethnicity, culture and other distinct markers that separate them from others in a country. One country often has multiple groups of people within it that see themselves as different than others for one or more of these characteristics. It’s how they identify themselves, not how we identify them. When seeking to serve the non-believers, understanding these different groups of people is critical in how we bring the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The evangelical organization People Groups says, “Usually there is a common self-name and a sense of common identity of individuals identified with the group. A common history, customs, family and clan identities, as well as marriage rules and practices, age-grades and other obligation covenants, and inheritance patterns and rules are some of the common ethnic factors defining or distinguishing a people. What they call themselves may vary at different levels of identity, or among various sub-groups.”[2]

GFA World specifically trains and sends our national missionaries with deep understanding of the groups of people they hope to reach. Our national missionaries are sent to locations where language and culture are not an immediate barrier. With these two steep obstacles out of the way, GFA missionaries can focus on training on discipleship and church planting and other important resourcing.

GFA missionaries have a deep compassion for those they serve since they are often sent to places that are very like where they grew up. It may be hundreds of miles from home, but it will feel at least a little familiar to them. Then they can share the Good News that has changed their lives and can change the lives of others.

You can help send GFA missionaries by sponsoring someone each month for only $30. The missionaries live simply to make maximum the effectiveness of resources. You can choose a missionary by name or give to the national missionary fund. Either way, you can join in praying for their incredibly important work to some of the most impoverished places on earth. Be part of that today with your sponsorship.

Learn how GFA World is making disciples of all nations!

[1] “Records of the Lausanne Movement.” Wheaton College. Accessed July 30, 2023.
[2] “What is a People Group?” People Groups. Accessed July 30, 2023.