As the average teen overdoses on manic levels of television, Internet, and radio promoting sex, drugs, and body image, one ministry seeks to faithfully "interrupt" their time and offer up another alternative – the truth.
Groundwire, an outreach program of Champion Ministries, is meeting the needs of teens nationwide by leveraging secular media and technology for the Gospel.
About eight years ago, Sean Dunn, founder of Groundwire, began to be challenged by the Great Commission. He realized that while the Bible said, "Go," he never actually went. He had only invited kids to come to where he was, as a full-time youth and college ministry member.
Seeing that while many ministries existed for people who sought after God, none accommodated those who weren't seeking. Asking the question, "How do we reach the ones who don't want to be reached," Dunn began to study what kids were really thinking.
After reading a statistic that 97 percent of teenagers listened to the radio at least five times a week, Dunn was stunned. "When I saw that, I thought 'I can't get 97 percent of people to come to church.' If they're loyal to their media, we have to find ways to leverage media and technology."
So Groundwire went straight to the heart of the stations that were captivating the attention of teens everywhere.
They placed 30 or 60-second commercials in between programs that were cultivating hopelessness, negative self-image, anger, and lust, and offered teens a message of hope and encouragement instead.
"We're able to take Christ right into that darkness that is in many ways destroying morality and stealing spiritual drive," stated Dunn to The Christian Post. "Our strategy is really to interrupt somebody's life. They're looking for something else and we want to suggest Christ in the middle of that."
Thousands of young people who are lost and lonely are presented with an opportunity to meet Christ, right where they are, and witness God's unconditional love.
Groundwire strategically does not buy advertisement space during primetime. Instead, they place their interruptions in two targeted time slots: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Whether they are reaching teens who are coming home from school, hoping to forget about their troubles, or those who are up through the dreary hours of the night fighting off loneliness or meaninglessness, Groundwire intends to speak to those who are desperately searching for something or someone to talk to.
"We're looking for people who are alone and who recognize [that] something's missing in their life; and we want to suggest Christ and offer that conversation," Dunn explained.
The ads showcase a broad range of problems plaguing the youth today, from pill popping and cutting to futile partying, and prompt individuals to "chat now, with someone who cares" on groundwire.net.
A live spiritual coach is available 24 hours a day on the site, as well as a collection of helpful resources such as podcasts and daily devotionals, all ready to comfort and guide troubled teens.
Coaches come from all over the world, with advisors in South Korea, India, Australia, as well from the United States – some pastors, some students, and some stay-at-home moms, each hoping to start a conversation.
All volunteers are equipped online and must go through a challenging training process, with continual accountability and monitoring throughout. (If you'd like to become a spiritual coach, visit groundwire.net/coaching to see how).
"We've had people who have never led anyone to Christ in their life lead nine people to Christ in their first three months," Dunn told CP. "It's an exciting opportunity for these people to use that part of themselves – that evangelistic piece that's inside of them that they didn't really have that big of an outlet for."
Take Kristy and Brittany. Kristy and Brittany met online at groundwire.net through a live chat session and both felt they had made a great connection. Kristy, a spiritual coach, decided to continue following up with Brittany and bought two devotional books. She sent one to Brittany and kept one herself.
Every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., they went online, and Kristy began the discipleship process. After 13 weeks, Brittany was plugged into a local church, which Groundwire contacted, so she could further grow and connect with a body of believers.
"Ultimately, that's what we're looking to do. We're looking to be the bridge," stated Dunn.
"Through the media, we can share truth. With the coaches, we can draw people into conversations that lead to spiritual decisions. And through partnering with churches and organizations, we can plug these students into places that are ready to invite them into communities and teach them how to grow with God." (More information on how to become a partnering church or organization at groundwire.net/mymarket).
What began on the radio seven years ago has now expanded to include television and new media, targeting audiences age 15 to 25 through networks like KIIS 104.7, Star 98.7, MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, TruTV, Nick at Night, and Comedy Central.
Groundwire is currently looking at handheld device deliveries and hoping to advertise on Pandora, hulu, and many more media outlets, continually searching for ways to interrupt lives.
"Our goal is to make it hard for anybody to go an entire day without hearing about our God in heaven who loves them," said Dunn.
Groundwire's website averages over 30,000 visits and 2.8 million hits a month – indicating the numbers of people who are lost and in search of an answer. Their spots are heard on over 1,200 stations, both secular and Christian, reaching over 12 million people weekly.
Groundwire's choice to witness across the medium of secular media is changing lives.
"We have to do something in our nation to keep Christ in our culture," Dunn concluded.
On the Web: http://www.groundwire.net/