Welcome to the homepage for The Gospel According to Twenty One Pilots, an ongoing sermon series created by Justin Ulmer, student pastor of WoodsEdge Church and creator of Sevenapples.
Neon Gravestones is a compelling, all-out assault on our society’s practice of glorifying suicide and the glamorization of taking one’s own life. This song and this sermon offer perspective, solutions, and hope. If you or someone you know are battling suicidal thoughts, this song and this sermon were written for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHY BUILD A SERMON SERIES ON A SECULAR BAND? To answer this question, we look to Scripture (Matthew 4:17) and the first word out of Jesus’ mouth when he began his public ministry: ”Repent!”
WHAT’S IT MEAN TO REPENT? To repent means to “change the way you think.” The mission of Jesus’ ministry was to change the way people think about who God really is (a loving Father), and who He created people to be (beloved children).
WHAT DOES REPENTANCE HAVE TO DO WITH TWENTY ONE PILOTS? The mission statement of Twenty One Pilots is to “make people think
HOW DO TWENTY ONE PILOTS ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO THINK? Another noteworthy coincidence between Jesus and Twenty One Pilots is their chosen mode of communication: The Parable. Parables sound absolutely ordinary; casual stories about fathers and sons; soil and seeds; bandits and devils. And, they are completely secular stories. Of the forty parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only two mention God. As people heard Jesus tell these secular stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, therefore, there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. The listener relaxed their defenses. And afterward, they would walk away - perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, the true meaning of the story would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss would open up at their feet… “That guy was talking about me and God!” The beautiful thing about parables is that they are not illustrations that make things easier. In fact, they make things harder. Because a parable requires us to exercise our imaginations, which, if we aren’t careful becomes the exercise of our faith. What sets Josh & Tyler apart from other bands is that they meet their audience where they are, as they are, and they let them know: “We get you. We care about you.” And once their audience feels loved by them, they can slowly challenge them to consider a new way of thinking, a new way of feeling, and a new way of living. And if, by the end of a song, they can simply get some people to say “Hello” to God for the first time, well, that’s better than most. The Twenty One Pilots sing in parables because, like Jesus, they want their audience to listen to their stories. They want people to think. And if, as we listen, we use our imagination, we might come to the same conclusion that so many people have come to before us. That story, that song, that lyric… that’s about me and God.