For over 4 decades, the Dawson McAllister Association (DMA) has been reaching out to teenagers and young adults to provide the care and compassion of Christ and to offer Biblical thinking and right values that have the power to change their lives.
How have we been able to reach them? First, it was through massive youth conferences where Dawson spoke during the 70’s and 80’s. Then through his nationally syndicated radio show, Dawson McAllister Live, which was on the air for over 25 years. And now through our pervasive on-line presence at TheHopeLine.com. At each of these steps in our ministry’s journey, our reach has expanded. We grew from local conferences to a national radio show to the world wide web.
TheHopeLine.com currently attracts almost 5 million visitors a year from 167 countries. This generation lives in a digital world. And to reach them, we have increasingly pursued them right where they live…on their devices, smart phones, computers…anything that has an internet connection. Our focus is to continue to do what our ministry has always done – find a way to have the biggest impact. At this point, going fully digital is where God has led us. Through our on-line radio show and the new Dawson Podcast which can be heard on both TheHopeline.com and TheHopeLine mobile app, Dawson’s voice is in front of millions. His experience, wisdom and evangelist’s heart is reaching an ever increasing world-wide audience.
The History of DMA’s REACH
1968 Birth of a Speaker — Fresh from Bethel College in Minnesota and beginning his studies at Talbot Seminary in Southern California, Dawson McAllister accepted the position of part-time youth pastor at Recede Baptist Church. Almost immediately, his fellow youth workers recognized his gift for presenting the truth of Scripture in simple, yet powerful ways. A pivotal moment was about to take place. Dawson recalls the afternoon he went to Griffith Park in the hills above Los Angeles looking for God’s direction for his life. It was there the Lord called Dawson to be a spokesman to, and for, teenagers. Almost immediately, he began to receive invitations to speak locally, and soon thereafter, across the country.
1973 Christian Television Pioneer — Dawson’s next challenge was creating a 13 episode TV series. With contemporary music and lots of teenagers on camera, the show was designed to appeal to those who were unchurched, presenting Biblically-based counsel to their most pressing felt needs. When the taping was complete, Dawson got in his Volkswagen bug and drove to every TV market in the Southwest United States seeking and obtaining airtime. Lessons learned here opened new doors.
1975 Budding Author — Working with a youth pastor friend to help him create curriculum for his youth group, the first of Dawson’s 18 teaching manuals was written. It was well received, and others wanted access to the material, or to have him teach it to their youth groups.
1975 Conference Innovator — Flush with demand, Dawson mass produced his Discussion Manual for Student Relationships and invited youth groups from nearby communities to join him for several nights as he taught through this ground-breaking material. This humble beginning became the Dawson McAllister Student Conference. Over the next 2O years Dawson wrote and began to teach a new manual nearly every year. The conferences grew to arena-sized events with more than a million students learning deep truths about the Kingdom of God. The culmination of each conference was the Saturday night alter call…Dawson’s straight ahead challenge for each student to consider where they stood with God. And they would stream to the stage, many in tears, to indicate some kind of faith decision. Ultimately, well over 100,000 made life-changing decisions to follow Christ. The Conferences also became a development space for young worship leaders like Al Denson, Todd Proctor, Joel Engel and Chris Tomlin. And promising young speakers like Mark Matlock.
1988 An Unforeseen Crisis — Saturday night altar calls began to become spontaneous. Students would come to the front of the stage before Dawson’s invitation, sometimes the moment he came on stage to speak. But all too many were in serious crisis. They shared stories of abuse, rape, cutting, addictions eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and more. These were youth group kids from good churches. They had youth leaders who cared about them. Most had parents who loved them. Many were already believers. They were desperate to be rescued from the things being done to them and the things they were doing to themselves. Almost immediately a partnership was launched with a crisis counseling organization. They sent trained counselors to attend all of the conferences. And when that was not enough, adult sponsors with crisis counseling training were asked to supplement. Then, with a little fresh hope, some very passionate prayers and some counsel about how to continue working on the issue, they boarded their buses and headed home with their sobered youth leaders.
1989 A Second Surprise — Early in the conference year, students started bringing notes to the front of the stage and laying them at Dawson’s feet, just a few at first. But week by week, more and more were brought forward until there were hundreds, until boxes has to be put out to collect them all…notes filled with pain and despair…notes from students who often would not come forward at an altar call for fear of being found out by friends, or youth leaders or parents. They were prisoners of self-condemnation and shame. What was to be done with all of this pain?
1991 The Birth of Radio — While Dawson spoke at over 25 Student Conferences each year, he only returned to any given city once in that year. As he was fond of saying, We blow in, we blow up and we blow out. In the face of the deep needs being uncovered each week, how could the ministry have a more sustained impact? One of the major conferences each year was in the Twin Cities. Their super-powered Christian radio station never failed to promote and cover the event. In the fall of 1990 they made an unexpected proposal — If they provided the air-time and technical know-how, would Dawson host a weekly call-in show for those 21 and younger? This was the sustained impact Dawson was longing for. The answer was YES. Thus, on January 27, 1991, Dawson McAllister Live! signed on the air. Northwestern College Radio, the parent network of KTIS, partnered with DMA to syndicate the show making it the only nationally syndicated show of its day exclusively for teenagers and young adults.
1994 Talk Show of the Year — In just three years, Dawson McAllister Live! not only acquired its 250th affiliate, but was named Talk Show of the Year by the National Religious Broadcasters Association.
2005 A New Radio Calling; Top 40 — Sometimes a calling can start with a question, like “What if Dawson could produce a version of his Christian radio show on secular radio? What if Dawson could translate Biblical values and thinking for millions of teenagers and young adults who were, harassed and helpless, like sheep without a Shepherd. (Matt 9:36 NIV)?” Those without the benefit of a Christian support system, or any support system at all. The answer to what if began to reveal itself in January 2005 when the Top 40 version of Dawson McAllister Live! signed on with its first affiliate station; KJYO in Oklahoma City. Eventually more 140 stations would air the show with a weekly audience of over 1 million listeners.
2012 Dawson247; Internet Radio — With Internet radio like Pandora, iHeart and Spotify gaining audience, it was clear that Dawson’s radio ministry needed to be in the this space too. 2012 saw the launch of the first of two 24/7 streaming internet webcasts.
2015 Return to Christian Radio — On February 28, 2015, with the Top 40 broadcast still going strong on Sunday night, Dawson returned to Christian Radio, this time on Saturday night. The new show, TheHopeLine® with Dawson McAllister, was launched in partnership with Way Media Network and was syndicated on 109 stations.
2017 Move to Fully Web-based ministry – Recognizing the need to meet teens and young adults where they are at, the ministry decided to focus exclusively on digital ministry. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “We have become all things to all men that we may by all means save some.” Our digital ministry includes, on-line streaming radio, Dawson Podcasts, social media, content rich blogs, stories, videos, eBooks, and many other digital resources designed to help teens and young adults with the struggles they are facing today. And infused at every level is the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. We know that the most important decision anyone can make is to give their lives to Christ, and so we offer opportunities for them to do so into every resource.