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Shaun Groves, with debut album, commissioned as music ‘missionary’

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP)–It was only a few months ago that Shaun Groves was leading a small, Sunday night discipleship-training group for teenagers at his church. Combining in-depth Bible study and worship choruses, Groves shared his passion for Christ through songs he had penned based upon his own walk with God.

Now, an entire nation is about to receive an invitation to eavesdrop on Groves’ spiritual journey.

Groves, a graduate of Baylor University, is Rocketown Record’s newest recording artist and one of the songs off his debut album, “Invitation to Eavesdrop,” has already reached No. 1 on the adult contemporary Christian charts. He will also have a fall tour slot with Bebo Norman.

On July 27 his home church, The People’s Church, also known as First Baptist, Franklin, staged a welcome home celebration that featured a crowd of more than 1,000 people eager to congratulate Christian music’s newest voice.

Church leaders also used the service as an opportunity to commission the 27-year-old Groves as a missionary from the church.

“Having seen Shaun in our church over the past two years, it is awesome to see how he is the same person on stage that he is off the stage,” said church member Teresa Rosenhauer. “He is truly the real deal.”

No one knows that better than Ed and Kay Darnell. The Darnells’ home served as the base for the weekly discipleship group led by Groves.

An outreach of the church’s student ministry, hundreds of students gathered in homes on Sunday nights for “Satellite,” a time of intense Bible study and worship.

“This was a special night for us because we have had a chance to see Shaun and the way his heart is,” Ed Darnell said. “You should see how he ministers to kids on a personal basis.”

“When we hear his music, it’s like hearing the spirit of God,” Kay Darnell added. “He would just bring that guitar and sing on the front porch of our house. Those were special times.”

Even before he signed with Rocketown, the Darnells said Groves would ask the students to pray that God would guide him in ministry.

“What you see is what you get with Shaun,” Ed Darnell said. “Shaun is so real.”

For Groves, Invitation to Eavesdrop is an opportunity for fellow believers to converse with God.

“Every song is a conversation, usually with God, about personal feelings or circumstances,” he said. “Since I never write with anyone besides myself and the person I’m talking to in mind, everyone else who hears the song is really eavesdropping on a moment of my life — a private conversation made public.

“The record,” Groves added, “is an invitation to do so. I also believe that the Christian life is a conversation with God and man. We should live as if the world is listening to what our every action says about the validity of our faith.”

When it comes to validity, Groves is the “real deal,” said Rick White, senior pastor of The People’s Church.

“Shaun has the heart and passion for touching the hearts of this culture for Jesus Christ,” White told Baptist Press. “It’s like God has birthed him into this ministry.”

White said Grove’s worship music has become a vital part of the congregation’s Sunday services.

“The music God has placed in his heart has become a part of our rich tradition of worship at The People’s Church,” White said. “I feel a sense of deep pride in how God is using Shaun’s music.”

Produced by Grammy Award-winning and Dove Award nominee Monroe Jones, Groves’ project is musically and lyrically diverse.

Invitation to Eavesdrop celebrates the joy and wonder of Groves’ daily walk with Christ. A songwriter at heart, Groves has crafted songs featuring piano ballads that softly surround his vocals as they pronounce lyrics with meaning and melody.

Groves also gives fans of rock & roll a taste of what they like with his guitar-based tunes.

“It’s not every day that a record of this weight comes along,” Jones said. “It’s edgy and passionate, yet very melodic, and its lyrics point straight to Christ. It shows the heart of the artist and his desire to glorify God.”

Many of the fans attending the concert at The People’s Church agreed with Jones’ assessment and likened the concert to an intimate worship service.

“Shaun understands that his music will fail if he’s not singing for the right reasons,” said Kelsey Inman, a 15-year-old member of the youth group at The People’s Church. “He even signs his autographs, ‘For His renown.'”

“He has a passion for the words behind his music and it shows,” added Franklin resident Kendra Flowers.

Richard Chappell, of Brentwood, Tenn., said he’s a fan of Christian music, but Groves is a different kind of artist.

“He brings a fresh, new sound to contemporary Christian music and has thought-provoking lyrics,” Chappell told Baptist Press.

Groves got his start in Christian music as an unpaid intern for Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing. He moved from an unpaid tape-copy boy to paid tape-copy boy, while his wife held down an accounting job to pay the bills.

During his lunch hour, Groves said he would educate himself about songwriting, listening to the early works of Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman.

“I began to understand what good songwriting was about and how to come closer to doing it,” Groves said.

Groves’ “big break” into the business came after two years at Brentwood. Groves had started working part-time at The People’s Church as a worship planner and what boiled down to being a janitor most days.

“Just as I was beginning to wonder about my life’s direction outside of songwriting, Brentwood-Benson, who had passed on signing me as a staff writer many times before, called me in need of songs for a band,” Groves recalled. “I was the only guy they knew that wrote the right style of music for the job. For the next six months, Brentwood-Benson recorded demos of their former tape-copy boy’s songs and escorted me to every label in town.”

By grace, Groves said, Rocketown signed him and “let me make the record of my dreams with the amazingly talented Monroe Jones and a host of incredible musicians.”

For Groves, the opportunity to sing and make music is an opportunity to change lives.

“Looking back at my life and to the days ahead, I admit it doesn’t always look like life-changing stuff,” he said. “More often it simply looks like a friend listening, a teacher making the spiritual understandable, a father making time, a mentor discipling … and sometimes even making a little music.”
Erica Harms, a communications major at Mississippi College, contributed to this story. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: FROM A DISTANCE, UP CLOSE, A MOMENT WITH THE PASTOR and VISITING WITH FANS.

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  • Todd Starnes