Full disclosure: I'm a Switchfoot fan. Writing smart, substantive pop/rock songs is not as easy as it sounds. Plus, lead singer and frontman Jon Foreman possesses amazing lyricist chops that I'd seriously consider sacrificing a toe to acquire. I dig the fact that my youngest likes them too, and is prone to sing their songs at random moments throughout the day. It's always good to be able to share with your kids in something like that.
The thing is, Switchfoot had its origins in the dubious arena of "contemporary Christian music." But they never seemed at ease with that label, and over the years have attempted to break out of it. To many of the faithful, this sort of thing is viewed with contempt and scorn: the word "traitor" is sometimes used, along with "abandoning their faith."
And so every once in a while, they get the question: are you a Christian band or not? Check out Jon's latest response from the article:
Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.
I love it when others verbalize what you've been unable to put into words on your own. I also love it when rock stars talk like this (see: Bono).
More full disclosure: way back in my early years, as I was wrapping up my seminary studies, I came to a fork in the road. One way had me going through what we Presbyterians refer to as the "call process" - putting my name out there to any churches who may be interested in calling me as their next pastor. The other way had me entering the world of the contemporary Christian music artist: go solo, start a band, play church gigs, and more church gigs, throw some praise music in there, hook up with a small tour, try to get noticed by a Christian label. I had already started to make some connections in the biz, but eventually chose the former. And I've never looked back.
Still, I can't tell you the number of people who've assumed that, because I'm a minister who plays music, I must write contemporary Christian songs. They're surprised when I say that I don't. They're equally surprised when they hear me play at wineries and bars and backyard parties (providentially, one with my former band a few years ago just a couple of blocks from my new church). Eyebrows rise when I say that I cover Coldplay, Jack Johnson, and Death Cab For Cutie instead of Michael W. Smith and Mercy Me.