Interview: Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman

(This article was originally published in Worship Leader’s March/April 2016 issue. Subscribe today for more great articles like this one.) 


On the heels of the new release, Where the Light Shines Through, lead singer Jon Foreman shares a bit about music and the unique ministry of Switchfoot. 

Worship Leader: A couple of months ago you played at Greg Laurie’s Harvest America, which throughout its history has seen over 5 million attendees. How does this focus on sharing the good news intersect with the mission of Switchfoot?
Jon Foreman: We’ve always wanted to sing a message of hope—that our songs would shine a bright light in the darkness of consumerism and despair. The kingdom of the heavens is at hand! And that means that there’s a better story than the meaninglessness of acquisitions and the pain of loss and the fear of death. That’s good news, indeed!

WL: What role do music and art have in contributing to growth and transformation in people?JF: Music is the scaffolding of the soul, allowing us to go places otherwise unavailable to us. Music is a vehicle of the mind, carrying ideas further than words alone. It’s been said, “You have a body. But you are a soul.” For me, music helps to connect the physical with the spiritual on this journey of life with a body and soul.

WL: What is the role of music in Church and specifically the life of a person of faith?
JF: The role of music in the Christian faith has varied over the last 2,000 years. And I think that’s going to be different for different individuals, but for me, music is a safe place to question the polarities of the human experience: birth and death, doubt and faith, control and chaos, love and fear.

WL: Your songs delve into life’s tensions—this requires a lot of honesty. What role does honesty play in music and art that is about God?
JF: Without honesty, art becomes propaganda. It needs to be an honest struggle—a fair fight. Jacob wrestled the angel and became Israel. I believe that the maker of time and space is bigger than my doubts, bigger than my fears—bigger than any of my questions. So I don’t hold back in my songs.

WL: How has your faith changed and grown throughout the years to where you are now?
JF: Over the past few years the biggest change I’ve experienced is becoming a father. My relationship with my daughter has fundamentally changed the way I understand the Maker as a father.

WL: What is your favorite worship song?
JF: “How Great Thou Art”

WL: Switchfoot is involved with giving back in many ways; can you share about your work with Bro-Am and how your faith interacts with your work with the disenfranchised?
JF: We’ve always felt that if you’re going to sing about hope, you’re going to have to back it up with actions. The Switchfoot BroAm is our favorite day of the year- raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for homeless and at-risk youth in San Diego.

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Glenn Packiam (Doctor of Theology and Ministry, Durham) is the associate senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the songwriter of more than fifty worship songs, including “Your Name” and “Mystery of Faith,” and the author of several books, including Blessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus and Discover the Mystery of Faith: How Worship Shapes Believing. He is also a visiting fellow at St. John’s College at Durham University and an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary.
Packiam preaches at conferences for pastors and worship leaders and has spoken at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University, Biola University, Asbury Seminary, Calvin College, and Trinity School for Ministry. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Holly, and their four children.