Sean Dunn grew up in suburban America. In his hometown of Spokane, WA, “the lawns were nicely manicured on the outside, while on the inside, some families were tattered and fractured.” A similar mask depicted Sean’s personal relationship with God. Though Sean often received compliments about his leadership in youth group and his spiritual sincerity, inside he knew his relationship with Christ was struggling. “When I looked in the mirror, I saw my hypocrisy and sin, but I didn’t know how to overcome the stealing, lying and lust I was having about girls…I didn’t know how to serve Christ or to walk with him,” he said. Then, at age 14, the walls surrounding Sean’s facade of a relationship with God came tumbling down when his parents discovered he had been stealing.
Sean overheard his parents’ discussion about sending him away for professional help. In desperation, he pleaded for one more chance because he really wanted to overcome his character flaws. Still, Sean was reluctant to agree with his parents’ suggestion for him to meet with his youth pastor, Frank. He thought it would be a waste of time. Today, Sean is thankful he honored his parents’ wishes to meet with Frank, whose counsel changed his life. “You don’t have a problem with your mouth, you have a problem with your heart,” Frank told Sean. “Out of the heart, your mouth speaks and out of the abundance of your heart, your body acts. That’s why you are stealing,”
Frank’s prescription for changing Sean’s heart was not the revelation Sean had expected. “You have to read two chapters of this book a day,” he said, handing Sean his Bible. Sean surprised even himself with his response, “If you think two chapters a day will change my heart, I will read two chapters two times a day.” Without fail, Sean read two chapters of the Old Testament before he went to school and two chapters from the New Testament before he went to bed. Sean saw dramatic changes: in three months, he had stopped stealing, and for the most part, lying, too. He was beginning to view girls more appropriately. His heart was turning toward God.
Through continuing to study God’s word, Sean became a passionate follower of Christ and confessed to Him, “I will go anywhere you want me to go.” Then, the Lord dropped a phrase in his heart – Contend for a Generation – which he wrote in the back of his Bible. Though he didn’t know what his ministry would look like for many years, Sean’s vision for Champion Ministries was born that day in 1982. In 1986, Sean attended Bethany College in Santa Cruz, California and, during this period, he began working on the front lines of youth ministry at a string of churches in the area. In 1989, he started a seven-and-a half-year tenure as youth pastor at Church of the Rock in Castle Rock, CO, and, in 1990, he was ordained by Open Bible Standard Church, a denomination based in Des Moines, IA.
During his first year at Church of the Rock, his youth group grew from seven to 160 students, and 300 kids exposed to his ministry made commitments to follow Christ. From those years, Sean developed a special discernment and candor in working with your people. His two-fold goal in youth ministry is to communicate relevant “word-pictures” young people can apply to their lives and to show them what value Christ places in having an intimate relationship with them. “Young people relate to my testimony. Vulnerability is very important in letting them know I can relate to them without judging. One of the lies the devil throws on them is “you are the only one that feels insecure, and you have nothing to offer.”
Contending for the faith of young people, ages 12-25, has remained at the core of his ministry as he confronts youth with issues of the heart – issues like he once had. Sean speaks of his convictions, saying, “If a young person is passionate about Christ, they are less likely to fall into the devil’s traps. If the devil is going to be successful, he has to steal their passion.”
His definition of “spiritual apathy” from one of his books, Bored With God, illustrates the importance of having a passionate relationship with God: “Spiritual apathy is the doorway through which sin enters and faith leaves.” Bored With God provides critical counsel for parents, pastors, youth workers about common warning signs that indicate whether young people are living on the brink.
Since 1995 when Sean founded Champion Ministries, he has been prayerfully and aggressively calling young people into a real and vibrant lifestyle of intimacy with Christ. Every week, Sean reaches out to over 18 million churched and unchurched young people through his edgy Groundwire radio spots and TV commercials (www.groundwire.net) that broadcast God’s Word, His love, and His purpose worldwide. During live events, he has spoken to hundreds of thousands of youth, painting vivid pictures of scripture they can understand, and more than 100,000 have made decisions for Christ. In addition, he has published nine books geared for Christian young people, parents, and youth caregivers, including his best seller, I Want the Cross (Revell).
Groundwire (www.groundwire.net) headquarters is located in Castle Rock, Colorado. Sean and his wife, Jene’ have six children.