Goundwire: Reaching A Generation With Looking For Truth – With Sean Dunn: How do we engage with a generation who won’t put down their phones? Where are young people willing to reveal what they may hide at church? How do we let them know that when life hurts, Jesus cares? What can you do to help youth who are hurting and looking for truth? Tune in to find out in this exciting interview with Sean Dunn, Founder of Groundwire!
Air Date: 02/23/2022
Guest: Sean Dunn
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. So glad you are with us today on WallBuilders Live. WallBuilders, if you’re tuning in for the first time, comes from that scripture in Nehemiah that says arise and rebuild the walls that we may no longer be able to approach. Here at WallBuilders, we are rebuilding the foundations, we’re restoring the principles, the biblical principles upon which this nation was built. So every topic of the day, we look at it from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. And I have the honor of being here with David Barton. He is America’s premier historian. He’s our founder at WallBuilders.
And Tim Barton is with us. He’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. You can find out more about all three of us at wallbuilderslive.com. That’s wallbuilderslive.com, has a list of the stations across the country where you can hear the program, as well as the archives over the last few weeks and months, and a lot of other great information as well. It’s also the place where you can make that one-time or monthly contribution.
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Alright, David and Tim, later in the program, Sean Dunn’s going to be with us. They’ve been doing it for years. It’s new to me. I wasn’t aware of it. It’s called Groundwire, they’re reaching tons of young people online. I mean, there’s just advertising to them and then texting conversations. It’s beyond what I thought was possible. But I’m an old guy. So anyway, that’s going to be kind of cool to have them on.
But while we’re talking about the next generation, that’s something we’re all three passionate about. We got a lot of great youth leadership programs coming up this summer. Tim, give us an update on the leadership training program. We’ve already had a ton of people go through that the last few years. They’re leading in all kinds of areas. But what are you guys going to be doing this summer?
Well, you know, Rick, this summer, like we’ve done for several years, we open up our facility. And actually, we have partnered several years ago with Glenn Beck and his nonprofit Mercury One, my dad and I are both on the board and help do things for them. And they have this amazing facility over in the Dallas area. And we have a big museum set up there with a lot of our original artifacts, some of the artifacts that Glenn has collected, some that Mercury One is collected. And together with those three collections, there’s just such absolutely incredible stuff. And so we bring kids in. We have a one week program, we have a two week program.
And so depending on that financial capacity and I guess length of time that students have in the summer, if they are able to come for one week or two week, one week is a little bit more of a crash course, two week course in fairness, when you have that much history, we have probably 160,000 items in the collection.
And when you have that many items, you’re not going through all of it. But one week is a dive in history, it’s a little shorter. That’s in June. The two week is in July; and even as we’re saying this, Moodle Teachers’ Conference in the summer where we bring teachers in for three days at a time. There’s times throughout the year that we do family seminars over this facility. So there’s a lot of training we do.
And we are almost every single week acquiring new artifacts. So just recently, we were able to buy part of a cuff sleeve that Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated. So it had some blood on it. We actually were able to purchase the key to the booth that he was sitting in there, Ford’s Theater. I mean, things just help you tell such a cool story. And you get to see that level of connection with history. And so we do a deep dive in these documents.
And what we are seeing so much is that there’s a rising hunger in the next generation for truth. So many people recognized that they’re being lied to on a lot of levels. We recognize that, whether it be the media, whether it be politicians, social media, there’s a lot of things out there that aren’t true. And so the kids we get, we’re very specific. We have a screening process. And we’re very open that what we do in the summer, we are not a history conversion camp. You know, we’re not trying to help people not be socialists, and help them understand the biblical principles free market.
We’re not trying to help you become someone who doesn’t hate America. We want kids who already have a value system that says hey, I want to grow in God’s word this summer. I want to learn more of the truth of American history. I want to be able to defend Christianity in America better. I want to be able to defend that the foundations of our nation, whether it be constitutional principles or the free market principles or whatever it is, I want to grow in. And so we take kids who want to be disciples who want to grow, and we just pour into them for a week for two weeks.
We’ve had multiple different guest speakers that come. We have congressmen. We have different media personalities, whether it be Glenn Beck, or Charlie Kircher, Steven Crowder, different people that will come and they’ll speak, do different parts for these different sessions. And so just a lot of different voices that students are able to hear, but just encouraging them in some basic principles and values, really challenging them to have the courage to stand up. And so we’re gearing up for that this summer.
For people that are interested, it’s for 18 to 25 year olds. You can find out more going to wallbuilders.com and there’s a tab that says “Initiatives”. If you click on that, you’ll then find a tab or I guess, the text for Summer Institute, you can click on that, it has more details, more information about what it looks like, the application you can fill out.
And this is a limited capacity thing that we do. We only take so many students because we want to be able to connect, we want to be able to develop relationships, we want to be able to pour in them. Because this is something that for 18 to 25 year olds, this is for kids who are going into college, kids who’re in college kids, who are now young professionals early in their career, and they just want to be more grounded in in what they know, learning more of the truth, the truth about America, the truth about the Bible.
And so it really is something amazing. So if you know someone who’s 18 to 25 years old that you think would be a good candidate, please have them go to the website, have them fill out an application.
And as mentioned already, we do things for teachers. During the summer, we do family seminars. So there’s a lot we do to try to pour into people. But especially we love being able to pour into the next generation.
You know, as you said, Tim, it’s so important, I don’t think you said it exactly this way. But basically, we’re not trying to convert Marxist into being lovers of America. And some people say, well, you’re just preaching to the choir? Exactly.
The choir needs some preaching too. They need to be discipled. They need to be grounded in these things, and be ready to answer as we’re told in the New Testament, we got to be ready to answer and not only for the faith in regards to our religion, but also in terms of our citizenship and what it means to be an American. And that’s what you’re doing.
So I think it’s important to stress that, that you’re looking for people that already have an interest and a love of America, but they want to get better grounded. It’s the same thing at Patriot Academy. You know, we’re not looking for people to send us their kids that are wayward leftist, we’re looking for those kids that already agree with us on a basic idea of rights come from God, not from government, basic ideas of I want to live in freedom and I want to be a part of protecting freedom.
There are millions of young people out there that fit that category. And if we don’t equip them, and train them, and get them better grounded, they’re going to be won over by the Marxist that are out there. And there are people out there that convert, and that’s fine.
And even our guest later will be talking about conversion to the faith. But also even in what they do, it’s about submitting those who already have faith but they’re questioning that faith. I just think we gloss over that. I don’t know, maybe it’s more exciting to get somebody that was totally on the other side, and we got them over to our side. But then we miss all those troops that really needed the encouragement and the grounding.
Yeah, you know, it’s worth learning too, I mean, for everybody listening, obviously, Rick, you, me, dad, all of us, we do a lot of communicating throughout the year, and a lot of it is to crowds where conversion does take place. So we’re not anti-conversion.
It’s just that’s not what these programs are for. These programs are the discipleship programs where Jesus dealt with the multitudes all the time. But then he had a smaller group that he took with him in more of a closed door setting that he poured into, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to pour into people what we would consider the good soil, the fertile soil, the people that want to grow and produce more in their life.
And not where we have to worry about the squeaky wheel, so to speak, we want people who are on the same page who want to grow and want to learn. And that doesn’t mean they have to already know everything. And they have to agree with everything we’re saying. But they have to be on the page that they have a general foundation there, they’re willing to learn, they’re willing to grow.
They’re teachable. And they just want to learn more about this biblical worldview perspective, about American history. They want to have the opportunity to go and have a hands-on experience, learning history with original documents. It’s a really unique opportunity.
And then obviously, with Patriot Academy, learning the political process, and just as I mentioned with our Summer Institute, we have incredible speakers, I mean, Patriot Academy, so many incredible speakers that will be there in person or some that will Zoom in and talk to the group. I know, Ben Shapiro has spoken last couple years. I mean, just really cool stuff that students have an opportunity to hear from some of the leading conservative thought leaders right now in the nation at these programs. And it is a great opportunity for these kids to grow.
So for every parent, every grandparent listening, we’d encourage you check out patriotacademy.com or go to wallbauilders.com under the “Initiative” tabs and look for Summer Institute because both of those programs are transformative programs that will give your students the foundation they need to go and make a huge difference in the future.
And Rick, if I can address something you brought up, you said criticized for preaching to the choir, that was a common criticism in your generation, it was a common criticism in my generation. And it’s really killed us. I mean, just think about it.
When did Jesus stop preaching to the choir? At what point did he say you guys had enough, I don’t know to tell you anymore? You never get to that point. When does an NFL coach stop preaching to the choir? He keeps talking to those guys as long as he got them. And they go over the same stuff basically all the time.
And because we stopped preaching to the choir, the choir was no longer able to equip the next generation. And once the choir got old enough to retire, there was no replacements for them.
And that’s really what we’ve done now is because we bought into that nonsense of you’re preaching to the choir, we didn’t do any training there and so we left a big gap that we’re now having to try to fill and it’s been filled with the wrong stuff. And so there are a lot of people to convert and get back. But at the same time, there’s a lot of people that we want to keep from getting converted on the wrong side.
I know all three of us have had the multiple conversations with parents, just heartbroken because they sent the kids off to some left wing school and they came back denying the faith and buying into the leftist philosophy and all of those things. And we want to prevent as much as that as possible. And that’s part of what these programs do is it gets your kid grounded and make sure that that doesn’t happen.
Our guest that we’re going to have on when we come back from the break, that’s another way to help prevent that the choir themselves being led astray by the left is for us to constantly have opportunities for them to have the conversations. When they reach that point of doubt, they need someone to reach out to and someone to talk to and we’re excited about this organization that’s new to us. We just now discovered them and we love what they’re doing. And I think you’re going to love it too. Sean Dunn, when we return from the break, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. In the early 1700s, the Reverend John Wise preached that all men were created equal, that taxation without representation was tyranny, and that God’s preferred form of government was the consent of the governed: all of which is language recognizable on the Declaration of Independence. Why?
Because in 1772, the Sons of Liberty led by founders such as Sam Adams and John Hancock, reprinted and distributed the Reverend Wise’s sermons. So four years later, much of the declaration reflected the language of those sermons by John Wise. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge affirmed “The thoughts in the declaration can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was saying.”
Few today know that the Declaration was so strongly influenced by the Reverend John Wise. For more information on this and other stories, go to wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Sean Dunn is with us. He’s the founder and president of Groundwire and they are touching lives, saving lives, phenomenal results. And we wanted to highlight them here on WallBuilders today. So, Sean, thanks so much for some time today, man.
Well, thank you. Thanks for having me on, Rick.
I mean, you guys are going where the young people are in the technological world and reaching them, but just kind of help this make sense to an old guy like me. How does this work? How do you actually reach out to the young people? Like where do they see your ads and your different videos so that they get drawn into a conversation about the Lord?
Yeah, absolutely. You know, first of all, a lot of people are complaining because they’re saying we can’t get him to go to church anymore. And my response to him is, but you can’t even put down their phones either. So it’s either a problem or an opportunity. They’re staring at their phone literally over 100 times a day, they’re checking their social media. So what we do is we show up on those platforms that they’re checking out, and we just suggest that what’s going on in their life, Jesus is the answer.
So we don’t approach them from a theological perspective. But we speak into their pain with really short content. They said in the morning has a 12 second attention span, so we don’t ask them for 30 or 90 minutes, we just show up 12, 15 or 30 seconds at a time and we just suggest, hey, when life hurts, Jesus cares.
Come chat with somebody who will take the time to engage with you and walk you through that and pray with you. And so that’s really the draw. And that’s what we’re seeing hundreds of people every day come to a place where they want to have those conversations.
Now, here’s one of the things that seems so different and it’s so much harder for my generation of my parent’s generation, Gen X or for us to understand. But these millennials, these younger kids, especially, they’re willing to talk about big time life subjects quite literally with a stranger over a text. That’s hard for us to comprehend. But I mean, they’re literally talking about purpose in life. And where do I find hope with all the things you have on your website? So you got to drive that home for us because for me, I wouldn’t talk to somebody about that over a text. But they do.
They absolutely do. And one of the things that I’ve said for years is that when they walk into a church, they cover up their scars. But when they get online, they roll them up and say they lead with what they hide. You know, hey, I cut myself hey, I’m thinking about suicide. I’m struggling with shame because of this, or I need purpose, and I don’t know who I am. They hide those things. But online, they feel safe. They feel like they can say whatever they want.
And one of the saddest things that I hear from people online, is they’ll say, I have nobody I can talk to about this, but… And that’s not true. But for some reason they trust somebody online who they’ve never met more than they trust the person that sits across from their dinner all the time. And I think it’s one of two reasons, either they’re afraid of the accountability that might come if they really open up or they’re afraid of the judgment that they’re going to experience.
Yeah. Alright. So it’s that the avenue is there, the opening is there. Talk to us about just some of the data, the results, because you’re reaching a ton of these kids. Talk to us about what happened in 2020 and 2021?
Well, first of all, let me just tell you that that skeptics aren’t going to believe this. I actually had a guy in Houston tell me a couple years ago, he said, I don’t believe you. He said your numbers are too good. I know how difficult it is, churches are struggling to reach the younger generations and you’re saying, you’re seeing all these. And on top of that, he said it costs the church a lot of money to really engage with people who are lost. And so he said, don’t come back and talk to me till you get your numbers have validated. But if you can validate it, please come back and talk to me. So we took that as a challenge.
So these numbers have all been validated, and I can make them available. But yeah, so I mean, this is crazy. It is crazy. But last year, we saw 192,506 people in the US profess faith in Jesus Christ for the first time. George Barna says the average church in the US sees one person a year. Last year, we saw 528 a day.
Wow! Sean, I mean, that’s staggering, just that. Okay. And then what? So they come to the Lord, then how do you get them plugged into discipleship? I know I’ve jumped into that too quick, but that’s kind of my passion. So it’s like, I love the top part of the funnel here, right, you’re getting a ton of them in. But initially, thinking okay, you’re talking to them over text or over the phone, or you’re far away from them, then what do you do to plug them in? Do you have like a discipleship program yourself? Do you try to get connected to another group? What do you guys do after that?
Yes, all of the above. So, what we learned is if you approach them early, and you ask for contact, follow up information, they run away. But it after you’ve had a meaningful conversation where they’ve made a profession of faith, if you approach and say, listen, we won’t give your contact information away, we won’t sell it. All we want to do is help you understand how to better grow in this new relationship that you have with Jesus, do you trust us? And so last year, 80% of the people who made a profession of faith gave us their cell phone number. So because we promised them we’re going to help you grow.
So we take that 18% and we trust the Lord with the other 82%. But truthfully, Scripture says some plant, some water, God gives the increase. I believe that our job is to plant the water as aggressively as possible, as relentlessly as we can, day after day after day after day, knowing that it’s God’s job to see that they got come back. But so what we do is we take the 18% and we do two things. We have tools to move them vertically towards Christ and horizontally towards community. And so we do partner with churches to try and move them in that direction as well.
Nice. Nice. Okay. Well, I know a lot of our listeners, very active, they want to respond, they want to be a part of it. And so I do see on your website ways they can get engaged with you and help, obviously praying. But you even have an opportunity where, I guess, you train online volunteers to be part of your coaching team where they’re helping to take these calls or texts. So you’re looking for folks that want to be a part of that as well.
Yeah, we’ve been growing very, very fast. But we can only grow as quickly as we can support the chat. And so we need to double our coaching team this year. We have about 800 volunteers in Spanish and English all over the world. But we need to get that to 1,500 or we’re going to have to slow down our growth. And so that is a fantastic way.
The way I describe it is, if you would love to answer this question, you’d be a great coach. If you would love it if somebody walked up to you, tapped you on the shoulder, when you had time to kill, not when you’re busy, but when you had time to kill. And if they were to ask you this question, does Jesus really care about me because sometimes it feels like he doesn’t? Then you would be a great coach, because that’s what our marketing does.
We use multiple different websites to draw people to a place where they’re logging in and they’re saying, hey, they said I could talk to you about what’s going on in my life. And I want to know what does God think about me? How can I really begin to understand life? And so we need you. If you’re listening and that would excite you, then you will be joining an amazing team. We’ll give you all the tools that you need.
You do it online from home. You can sit in your pajamas and minister to people all over the nation. And again, it’s online. It’s not on the phone. It’s not going out for coffee with them. They tapped you on the shoulder through the computer when you’re training you’re ready, your computer rings and it says, hey, I want to talk to you, and you can be there for them.
I love it. Sean, I’m telling you right now I’m thinking of dozens of people in my circle that immediately I think will jump on this and want to be a part of it, including several my own kids who are in their 20s that just would love this opportunity. So I know there’s a lot of our listeners thinking the exact same thing.
And groundwire.net, I guess for all of this, they can go get answers to all of these things? They can see a lot of what you’re doing. That’s where they can pray with you. That’s where they can become a coach if they want, obviously, donations.
I mean, this takes money. And I don’t mind being blunt about this. I mean to start these conversations requires the fuel of the dollars, and you’ve got to be able to reach people in the online world. And so people can donate at your website as well, and be a part that way. If they don’t have time to be a part of conversations, they can still be a part of the harvest.
Right, Yeah, let me speak to that very, very quickly too. Denominations have told me it cost them over $35,000 to see one person come to Jesus. Because overhead, it’s not fair for me to compare myself to church because I do so much more. But I’m focused on one thing: reaching lost people and introducing them to Jesus and moving on towards the community. So it costs them over $35,000.
Last year, we saw somebody come to Christ, all in, everything we do, salary, software’s everything, for $15.70. And so it’s going to be more effective this year. And the majority of that money, by far, goes directly to what you’re talking about.
It goes directly into finding that person in the car, in the dorm room, in the bedroom, who’s struggling with life, staring at their phone doesn’t know who to talk to, maybe considering something drastic, suicide or turning to substance or whatever, and it just says, hey, why don’t you come talk to us about what’s going on in your life? And it’s turning a good number of them into conversations about Christ.
Well, and that would probably be my last question. I should have started with that. I apologize. But that first piece of this, the impressions and how you get to them with the ads online, that’s the part you guys have really figured out well because you’re advertising all over the place. But you know where to go to reach them and get a higher return in terms of meaning that I’m reaching back out to you.
Right. Yeah, our commercials are seen last year in the US 304 million times, I think. I don’t remember the 04, I don’t remember exactly. But it was over 300 million times. And really it is. It’s on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are top four. And we’re speaking to them as they’re staring at their phone on the platforms that they’re already very comfortable with. And it’s so short, before they know it because the marketing is relevant, and it we’ve learned how to speak behind their mask, which is key. If you speak to their mask them, they might buy tennis shoes for you. But if you speak to their pain, then they’ll come have a conversation with you.
Oh, that’s good. Oh, that’s good. Sean, I am so glad we got to meet over the air. I’m so glad our listeners are getting exposed to you. I’m thankful for what you’re doing. Groundwire.net is the website. Groundwire.net, so many ways you can be a part of it. Sean, we’d love to have you back, man. Thanks for some time today.
Well, thank you. Thank you so much, Rick.
That’s Sean Dunn, groundwire.net, the website. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
THE AMERICAN STORY
Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have here at WallBuilders called The American Story. For years, people have been asking us to do a history book, and we finally done it. We start with Christopher Columbus and go roughly through Abraham Lincoln. And one of the things that so often we hear today are about the imperfections of America, or how so many people in America that used to be celebrated or honored really aren’t good or honorable people.
One of the things we acknowledge quickly in the book is that the entire world is full of people who are sinful and need a savior, because the Bible even tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And yet what we see through history, and certainly is evident in America is how a perfect God uses imperfect people and does great things through them. The story of America is not the story of perfect people. But you see time and time again how God got involved in the process and use these imperfect people to do great things that impacted the entire world from America. To find out more, go to wallbuilders.com and check out The American Story.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. And thanks to Sean Dunn for joining us today as well. David, and Tim, just like what you’re talking about, I mean, he’s reaching out to people that are lost but also people that know the Lord and these kids that are having tough questions about life and about their faith. It just seemed to seem strange to me. I don’t know. Tim, maybe you can relate to it more. But it seems strange to me that people are willing to have these serious conversations over text with a stranger, but clearly that’s exactly what they’re willing to do.
There’s no doubt. And let me point out, Rick, even though I am younger than you, we’re both aging. So I turned 40 this year, right, so I am not part of this rising generation with technology on any level, whatsoever.
You would not have had this conversation over text, right?
Goundwire: Reaching A Generation With Looking For Truth – With Sean Dunn
No. But it is interesting, obviously, as we work with young people, one of the things that is very true is we know that young people, even though they’re able to be connected with so many people through technology, they feel so lonely and disconnected that they don’t feel like they have deep and meaningful relationships. And so when someone is able to open up and talk to them about something important and meaningful, I can totally see that they’re willing to be vulnerable on some level because they lack that in many areas of their life.
You know, one of the things that we saw on polling, Rick, and we put part of this in the book “This Precarious Moment”, was this is an unusual generation because what they’re looking for more than anything is genuineness. And so if you are genuine, they will open to you. And I loved what Sean said that, look, if you speak to their mask, they’ll buy you a tennis shoe, but if you’ll speak to their pain, they’ll have a conversation with you.
They don’t care who you are or how old you are. But if you get genuine with them, and this is the first generation we’ve seen that is not bound by the strictures of age, they don’t care how old you are or how young you are; if you’ll get genuine, they will make that jump into your generation who you’re.
So if you want to have Sean with this, and be one of those counselors to help online, so the fact you may be a baby boomer or Gen X doesn’t keep you from having a genuine conversation with the Gen Z. And so this is genuine stuff that they’re looking for. And that’s what makes this such a great opportunity for everybody to be able to have an impact.
We’re going to have links today at our website wallbuilderslive.com, be sure to check it out there. And thank you so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.
Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. I will prayerfully consider becoming a coach. Always …always enjoy and appreciate your broadcasts. God speed!!!