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. In the year ahead we want to even further extend our reach through the following initiatives:
• Increase radio reach from 14 to 20 million listeners per week
• Increase TV reach from 20% to 40% of homes in the US
• Expand our offerings to reach students via handheld devices, texting, and the development of a Groundwire “App” downloaded to cell phones
• Strengthen our international coaching presence to increase overnight coverage on our Coaching Line
• Duplicate outreach offerings to reach additional demographics such as pre-teens
• Replicate our message in additional languages like Spanish and Mandarin Chinese
Check out the site at: http://www.groundwire.net/