Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The TelevangelistHe was a pastor of a little rural church, with a Sunday morning population of fifty-seven.
Week after week he preached to that little congregation, and the people were very grateful. "Good sermon, pastor," they would say, or "We're so glad you're staying with us, instead of going to one of those big city churches." Some would even say, "You should be on TV, pastor!"
To all these comments, he would smile and say "Thank you," with a modest nod of his head and a slight blush.
Over time, the congregation grew, for the people had heard that here was a man who could teach clearly, tell funny stories, and get a point across in a way that made them feel both uncomfortable and comforted at the same time. "No one teaches like him," they would tell their friends, and soon their friends would be coming to hear this preacher.
Then came the day when the congregation crossed the "one hundred" mark. It was a source of both happiness and concern, for the little church auditorium was rated to hold only eighty people; the rest of the congregants had to stand through the entire service.
"We have the technology," one of the deacons said, "Let's set up a video camera, and run a video feed into the fellowship hall." Everyone agreed, this was a great idea, and so it was done.
The congregation continued to grow, and the pastor felt himself shrinking; he was no longer able to meet and greet each of the people who walked through the doors of his church. Sometimes new members would show up for three months before he even remembered their names.
The manager of the local cable TV station stopped by one Sunday, and was moved to tears by the pastor's message. Afterwards he spoke with the pastor, and asked: "Since you're already set up to record the service, would you consider letting me run it Sunday mornings on our cable station?"
Delighted, the pastor said that would be wonderful. The congregation was thrilled; their pastor was on TV! The pastor felt himself shrinking even more but reminded himself of what the Bible said: "I must decrease, and He must increase." He smiled to himself. "I'm like John the Baptist," he said.
It wasn't long before a network executive happened to catch the weekly broadcast, and was moved by the powerful preaching. He offered the little church a large grant to update their video and audio equipment, and suggested that they explore the possibility of televising their services to a much larger audience.
The pastor shrank more and more. Now he couldn't even keep track of the people in his own church; the only ones he really noticed were the ones who told him how thrilled they were to have a nationally televised pastor right there in their own little church. He would smile, and with syrupy voice reply "To God be the glory," while he thought, "I am like Elijah, preaching to the myriad prophets of Baal."
One night the pastor had a strange dream. He was sitting inside a television, looking out at millions of people - a sea of unknown faces. Some were watching intently, others were chatting to each other over the sound of his broadcast.
In his dream, the time came for him to step to the pulpit and begin his sermon. But he was horrified to discover that he could not move from his seat. He felt strangely dizzy when he tried to stand, as though a hundred pound weight was strapped to his forehead. He wiped his brow and tried again to stand. This time he toppled to the floor, while the video cameras showed his fall to the whole world.
In a panic, he cried out to God, "Father! What is happening to me? I can't move!"
And a voice replied from the heavens: "Of course you can't, my son. What did you expect? Your head is the only part of you that didn't shrink!"
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