LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joey O'Connor, Part 2: From a Heart of Grace and Truth

Joey O'Connor is the executive director of The Grove Center for the Arts & Media in San Clemente, California. He is a pastor and author of 18 books. He is currently writing a screenplay about slavery and genocide in Africa in the late 1800s. He lives in San Clemente, CA with his wife and four children.

LeAnne: One part of your mission is to create a national network of artists in the church. How are you accomplishing that?

Joey: Facebook! One of our larger goals is to create or be a part of a national network of artists and artistic organizations who want to develop a creative hub for intentional artistic spiritual growth and excellence. As a small ministry, we've had a number of false starts in this area, which is a matter of trying too much too soon. Our best work this past year, in terms of national networks, has been in developing relationships with Mission America Coalition, Hollywood Prayer Network, Visual Story Network, and some conversations with Christians in Visual Arts (CIVA). At the most basic level, we receive emails and phone calls from people all over the national looking for how to connect with other artists and groups. We try to help people do this as best we can. With so many social networking sites out there, we've decided to camp on Facebook and build from there.

LM: The Grove Foundation for the Arts gives grants to professional and emerging artists. What are the requirements? Who can apply? 

JO: Over the past five years, The Grove Foundation has given over $40,000 in small grants and scholarships. We've also helped other artistic ministries in their fundraising efforts. That said, every penny has come from money we have raised through our donors. We have no endowment or pile of cash we're sitting on. At this time, we are accepting no new applications because we're not in a position to release any funds. Previously, the majority of the grants were given to artists, churches and non-profit artistic ministries in the Southern California area.

LM: What else would you like to say about The Grove Center for the Arts and Media?

JO: From speaking to a number of ministry leaders in the arts throughout the country, there is a great desire for education, collaboration, and eliminating redundancies in the Church as well as a very strong desire to create new culture in our society. We need to move forward with new ideas, innovation, and not imitation. We are very committed to helping develop tools and resources that help churches, pastors, and worship leaders incorporate the beauty of the arts in their worship services. Artists are always looking for their next commission. I believe we've already received it: the Great Commission. Artists and churches need to be committed to authentic spiritual formation and community building so we truly will be a city on a hill. The danger is to put artistic craftsmanship before authentic apprenticeship of Jesus. Pursue excellence, yes, but let's have it proceed from a full heart of grace and truth.

Next week: another new feature

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