Christian Living

ChurchWatch 03/17/11

Groundwire Interrupts Teens with Answers to Life

Teens today can be overwhelmed searching for meaning amidst depressing hopelessness, negative self-image, and the pressure to be perfect. To meet the needs of hurting teenagers across the country, Groundwire, a current and innovative outreach, has become a ministry where teens find comfort, guidance, and answers delivered through multi-media communication.

Using a multi-pronged strategy, Groundwire leverages media and technology to meet teens exactly where they are — viewing, listening, texting, or chatting — and to invite them to voice their questions and struggles so they can find answers in the message of the Gospel. This ministry makes an impact through broadcasting that strategically places television and radio spots on secular stations. Teens listening to popular radio broadcasts or viewing favorite shows on networks like MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, and Comedy Central are interrupted by direct spots. These spots catch their attention, resonating with where they are today.

Groundwire’s targeted, authentic, and well-produced commercials are grabbing the attention of teens by the millions. Young people who respond to the broadcast messages are invited to visit Groundwire’s website where they can chat with a live spiritual coach available day and night, as well as find a collection of resources such as podcasts by Groundwire’s founder and executive director, Sean Dunn, and daily devotionals.

Relevant topics, cutting-edge communication, the dynamic speaking and content of founder Sean Dunn, and powerful truths have made Groundwire a dynamic and growing ministry. “Eighty-six percent of teens today believe in God, but don’t believe God is loving,” explains Dunn. “Even fewer believe that they are lovable. What would happen if those teens truly understood God’s purpose for their lives and the hope and meaning he offers each one?” 

What began on radio over seven years ago has now expanded to also include television broadcasts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Phoenix, Tampa, Denver, Little Rock, and Spokane. Groundwire is experiencing growth as the ministry cuts right to the heart of the issues teens are wrestling with today and invites them to a safe and honest conversation where they can find answers in the truths of God’s word and in his love. Life-changing stories are received from teens of different backgrounds across the nation.

“I was struggling with a lot of things — cutting, not eating, depression, and suicidal attempts. I was angry and wanted to talk to someone. I felt that I would be judged or shunned if I talked to anyone I knew about such sensitive subjects. I heard an ad on the radio for Groundwire and decided to check it out. I logged on one evening, and since that night my life has changed in a lot of ways. The people at Groundwire chatted, prayed, and encouraged me. I could log on at pretty much anytime of the day and there would be someone to chat and/or pray with me. Since then, I’ve come a long way with their help, and most of all, God’s.”

“We are committed to expanding our reach even further in the coming year. We plan to grow our radio reach from 14 to 20 million listeners each week and our television audience from 20% to 40% of households in the US, and to even replicate our message into other languages,” says Sean Dunn. Groundwire has captured a unique opportunity to use mainstream media to “go into all the world” and reach an entire generation right where they are with the hope of the Gospel. 

To download podcasts, chat with a spiritual coach, or view Groundwire’s compelling TV spots, visit http://www.groundwire.net/.

Q & A with Sean Dunn, Founder and Executive Director of Groundwire

Q: What motivated you to create the ministry of Groundwire?   

A window of opportunity now exists for us to bring the Gospel to a generation that is literally dying without it. Not with an invitation that can be rejected, but with an invasion of truth that interrupts the lives of people ages 15-25 through the media they use every day. Our unique strategy—to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all” by leveraging mainstream media and technology—is doable, cost-effective, and cutting edge. More importantly, it’s working.

Q: Groundwire is continuing to grow and to “interrupt” teens across the entire country. What has been your strategy for gaining exposure and letting your audience know that you’re out there?

Groundwire’s strategy is to buy ad time on television and radio stations. Our thirty and sixty-second, Christ-centered radio spots speak hope into a hopeless world. By buying time on the most aggressive and influential secular stations, we proclaim the message of God’s unconditional love to millions. Then, through television buys that reach youth and young adults on MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Comedy Central, TruTV, and Nick at Night, Groundwire has the chance to share the message of hope with our target audience.

Q: What happens after a teenager views or hears a spot? How do you then go beyond the radio and TV spots to share the message of the Gospel?

Teenagers hear Groundwire ads on radio or view them on TV and are directed to our website to download podcasts, read online devotionals, or talk with a spiritual coach. Hundreds of volunteers from around the world form a team that offers coaching 24 hours a day. Since 2006, we’ve interacted with broken and searching youth on thousands of live chats. Students are drawn to the honest dialogue we offer about spiritual issues, often receiving Christ as their Savior as a result of our coaches’ ministry. We then connect as many as we can to local churches and resources where they can continue to grow.

Q: What is the need for a ministry such as Groundwire aimed at youth?             

In the next five to ten years, the identity of our culture will be defined as either Christian, post-Christian, or anti-Christian. Where we end up will be largely determined by the lives of the 35 million teens in America today. Statistics indicate that 86% of teens believe in God, but most don’t believe he is loving. Fewer believe they are lovable. What if those teens truly understood and responded to God’s offer of hope, truth, and purpose?

Q: What are teenagers today wrestling with and in what kinds of topics does Groundwire often engage with teens?

Some of the most common topics we have found are loneliness, a search for a spiritual connection, the fear of failure, hopelessness, cutting, suicide, self-image, and near-sightedness.

Q: What do you mean by near-sightedness? Is this something teenagers are aware of?

Most often, no. Much like a blind spot, if you could see it then it wouldn’t be a blind spot. I have often said if we could get students to consider who they want to be in five years, they would make wiser decisions. Unfortunately, their tunnel vision is one of their greatest hindrances. We try to engage with teens in this area, to help them see a larger vision for their lives and a deeper purpose.

Q: What have you found about the search for a spiritual connection? Are American teens yearning for that or are they more caught up in the tangible and the material as a result of the culture in which they live?

Teens today hunger for a real and personal relationship with the Living God. And that really transcends culture. They salivate when people talk about knowing God intimately but they have never been taught how to find that. It has not been intentionally modeled for them. So, they wonder if God doesn’t love them as much as the person down the street who seems so close to him. They think something is wrong with them.

Q: What is your vision for the future of Groundwire? What does it look like going forward?

Groundwire’s ultimate goal is to so saturate media with the message of hope in Christ that it would be impossible for any student in America to go 24 hours without hearing a gentle, relevant reminder that God is thinking of them and offering them hope in Christ. Groundwire is positioned to provide the most significant evangelical voice to this generation based on three criteria: reach, audience, and the multiplication of our message through our media strategy.

For more information, visit http://www.groundwire.net/ and http://www.broadcasthope.com/.

Read Sean Dunn's blog, Random Interruptions

Internet Evangelism Day is May 15, 2011

Related Blog: Resources for Internet Evangelism Day

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Learn more about Internet Evangelism in Craig's book, NetCasters: Using the Internet to Make Fishers of Men

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