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.