The answer, of course, is that Teen Mania relies heavily on their live events like Acquire the Fire to find new recruits for more expensive programs like Global Expeditions and the Honor Academy. In fact, it is extremely rare to find a Global Expeditions participant or an Honor Academy intern who wasn't first introduced to Teen Mania Ministries through an ATF event. Once youth arrive at Acquire the Fire, Teen Mania relentlessly and aggressively markets these expensive programs to everyone in attendance--some ATF attendees have even described the event as a "weekend-long infomercial" for Teen Mania. High pressure tactics are used to get kids to commit to go on a Global Expedition or sign up for the Honor Academy on the spot. If a teen won't make a firm commitment during the ATF event, their contact information is gathered so Teen Mania can continue their marketing via e-mail, direct mail, and phone calls for the next several months or even years.
In short: the journey from "average American teenager" to devoted follower of a high-control group many have described as a "cult" begins at Acquire the Fire.
Surely, though, Acquire the Fire must really be a great experience for teens....right? Why else would they come? Why would churches bring their youth groups to Teen Mania events year after year? Why would people spend the money on Acquire the Fire tickets if the event wasn't amazing?
The answer to those questions and more may shock you as Teen Mania Watch explores the ins-and-outs of Acquire the Fire marketing in our next several blog posts.