At BestChristianDesign.com we are always trying to bring your relevant interviews and insight from exciting people in the Christian internet community. In this edition we are delighted to have Shaun Groves with us.
Shaun Groves is an internationally known Christian songwriter and recording artist hailing from Tyler, Texas. In recent years Shaun has played a huge role in the Compassion International movement, particularity in their online development.
When did you become interested in music and what lead to you traveling the world playing your songs?
I grew up in Texas where, around age 12, kids have to choose an elective in school like homemaking, woodworking, Spanish, or band. A homemaking class in which I was the only boy probably would have improved my love life tremendously but I chose band instead. We had a saxophone stored away in the back of the attic so that’s what I played. I moved on to piano a when I was 17 and then on to guitar in college. I never dreamed of (or planned on) being a professional musician. I wanted to write songs for someone else to sing, but in 2000 I rear-ended a record deal and I’ve been traveling and singing ever since.
The newly designed shaungroves.com looks fantastic, which aspect of the site are you most pleased with?
About half my blog audience, I’m guessing, doesn’t care about my music. The other half cares a great deal. The challenge for us was to create a site that gave fans of my music easy access to what they needed without shoving my music down the throat of anyone who doesn’t care. To make matters hairier, I also speak quite a bit, and head up Compassion International’s blog initiative known as Compassion Bloggers (CompassionBloggersa.com). We had to somehow make room for all the things I love and do without making a site that was too cluttered and schizophrenic. We did this chiefly by hacking WordPress so that every page of the site has unique content in its sidebar. If you’re shopping on the site, you don’t want to see tour dates or videos in the sidebar. If you’re checking out the tour page you don’t want to see recent comments form the blog. We made sure you don’t have to.
You describe yourself as a singer, songwriter, speaker, blogger… how has your life journey taken you down so many road?
In 2004 I went to El Salvador with Compassion International and saw for myself the poverty millions live in around the world and what Compassion is doing about it through local third-world churches. That changed everything. I only sing to draw a crowd so I can mobilize Christians to do God’s will on earth as it’s done in heaven by sponsoring a child through Compassion International, serving a neighbor, teaching someone to read, forgiving an enemy, adopting, etc. I got to a point where realized there were other ways I could draw a crowd and mobilize it to serve Christ by serving others. So I started doing more speaking at churches, and started CompassionBloggers.com so that other people with an on-line crowd could see the poverty and hope I saw in El Salvador, write about it, and mobilize even more people to love the least.
You are clearly very active online, do you see the internet as a ‘new mission field’?
Mission happens anywhere a Christian goes. On-line too. So, yes, if there are CHristians on Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, and WordPress, then those places become transformed into tools for expanding the borders of God’s empire. Through the internet we can love, inspire, correct, teach, serve and even sing together.
Which artist or album is currently getting a lot of airtime on your Ipod?
I don’t listen to much music, oddly. ut I recently discovered The Avett Brothers. Ballad of Love And Hate is a favorite right now.
What are your five favorite or most visited websites apart from BestChristianDesign?
My favorite bloggers are my friends. Anne Jackson over at flowerdust.net, Brant Hansen at branthansen.typepad.com, Sophie at BooMama.net and Brad Ruggles at BradRuggles.com. They routinely make me laugh and think. Then there are the people I don’t know but wish I did. Guys like Seth Godin at Sethogodin.typepad.com – an incredible marketer whose posts have implications for life outside of marketing too – and Skye Jethani at Skyejethani.com – who wrote the best book I read this year: Divine Commodity.