There is a lot of talk these days about people clusters. I need to say from the beginning that I do believe that they are strategic. However I do not believe that we should move away from focusing on the individual unreached people groups. I don’t think that history will show us that focusing on clusters will trickle down into people groups much. If a people cluster has 25 languages and fifty unreached people groups, eventually you will need to get missionary boots (nationals or foreigners) down into “the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.” I understand this is the purpose behind cluster thinking, read on please.
So is focusing on people clusters enough? First of all I don’t think it is Biblical or God’s heart for all ethnos. Furthermore, since there are only about 5,000 known unreached peoples left to reach, it is not unreasonable to think that Latin America, Nigeria, Indonesia and other emerging missionary movements will have the personnel to send to every specific unreached people group and their tribes and clans if need be.
A friend recently commented on his blog: Patrick Johnstone pioneered the idea of Affinity Blocks and Clusters when looking at UPGs, and several organizations are finding this a very useful concept. The individual people group is far too small and too numerous. Clusters seem to be the most strategic. We at MUP have completely organized our structure around Clusters. IMB has done the same. Has your agency? What are your thoughts on it?
Again, I totally agree that clusters are strategic. I do not agree with the statement that the individual people group is far too small and numerous. Numerous possibly but small no. Is this how God feels about the unreached tribes in the Amazon jungle. Ask the Brazilian missionary movement how small is too small to consider reaching a people group.
We convene 4,000 people in a missions conference in South Africa and call it “the largest gathering of mission leaders in the history of Christianity.” We see a 4,000 population people group in the registry of an unreached people group database and somehow they become too small and numerous?
The individual people group IS far too numerous if you only consider North American missionary sending as the answer. If the global missionary sending effort (North American and the rest) cannot envision sending out 5000 teams over the next 20 years, then we all probably need to change our focus.
Here is another thought. Just because we cannot track missionary sending to UPG’s does not mean that they are not going from the emerging movements. We must keep our focus on the Biblical mandate, which is to every tongue, tribe clan and nation. If we do not we will never finish.
All of us North Americans also need to be careful not to suggest that the emerging missionary movements do the same as we do. We might be wrong. It has happened before.
All of us, especially the emerging missionary movements need to know as much as possible about specific unreached people groups like the Pamiri. (read below).
The Ethnic Tree View
With a tree view we can show clusters (strategic groupings) to the missionary movement. By using searchable red links, we can also show possible needs without adding more pages or registries to the database. If you have a field verified need, create a page (blue links). Red links are hyperlinks that do not lead to a page yet. It leads you to the creation of that page. In the case of Etnopedia, a page is a registry in the database. These red links and the whole Etnopedia system for that matter invite participation on bettering the unreached people information.
Example of a people grouping (cluster) on Etnopedia:
See it live here: http://en.etnopedia.org/wiki/index.php/Pamiri
See the Pamiri at the country level, below is a people list for researchers to see all the clusters, groups, languages, tribes and clans. http://en.etnopedia.org/wiki/index.php/Category:Afghanistan%27s_Complete_Ethnic_People_List