Although I suspect that most readers of this blog will be at least somewhat familiar with Teen Mania Ministries, I thought it might be valuable to give a brief overview of the organization for those who may never have heard of it. Teen Mania Ministries (TMM) is a evangelical Christian youth organization based in Garden Valley, Texas. Teen Mania is probably most well known for the live stadium and arena events they produce, including Acquire the Fire and BattleCry youth rallies. TMM holds these 2-day events in major cities across the United States each year, and according to the Teen Mania website, approximately 2.5 million teenagers have attended one of 553 live events they've produced since 1986.
In addition to an emphasis on spiritual growth, Acquire the Fire and BattleCry events also are the primary way that Teen Mania recruits young people for its other programs like Global Expeditions and The Honor Academy. A Teen Mania "Global Expedition" is a short-term mission trip, usually to a foreign country and lasting 2 to 4 weeks, that teens can participate in on an individual basis or with their church youth group. These trips generally range in price from $1,000 to $4,000 and most teens do significant amounts of fundraising in order to participate in a Teen Mania Global Expedition. Approximately 62,000 teens have gone on a TMM mission trip at some point in their lives. The "Honor Academy" is a year-long internship program offered by TMM, primarily targeted towards recent high school graduates. The internship, which involves working full-time in whatever job TMM leaders place you in on an unpaid basis, also requires teenage participants to raise between $600 and $800 per month for Teen Mania in order to cover their room & board.
Teen Mania also has a weekly television show that is watched by a reported 1.6 million viewers each week--this is no small organization. In fact, according to Teen Mania's most recent IRS Form 990 (available for free on the Guidestar website), Teen Mania brought in just over $20 million in revenue in 2008. Teen Mania is gaining increasing amounts of political influence, and they are a member of the Arlington Group, a coalition which unites the leaders of prominent Christian Right organizations in the United States. At first glance, Teen Mania certainly looks like another large, successful evangelical Christian ministry. However, as we dive into the core of the various components of Teen Mania's programs over the coming weeks and months, you may be surprised to learn that things at TMM aren't quite as "bright and shiny" as they seem on the surface.