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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: Pastor Matthew McMayhem and Family
By Laury Hubrich


“3-2-1 Action!”

Pastor Matthew McMayhem stands at the pulpit proudly dressed in a three-piece suit and silk tie. Not a hair out of place, this man of God smiles as the spotlight shines down on him, creating an illusion of heavenly perfection as the cameras roll.

“Greetings! Welcome to ‘First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-Saved.’”

The camera sweeps out into the audience and zooms in on the front row where Mrs. Mindy McMayhem sits with their ten-year old twin daughters, Misty and McKenna. All three smile sweetly, sporting Bibles in their laps and Kleenex in their hands.

Each and every Sunday morning, from 10:45 until noon, the McMayhems are on public display as the church service is broadcast throughout the whole of the state. Not only do people faithfully watch but they also flock to the small town to be a part of this modern day phenomenon. This day is no exception. The packed pews cause late-comers to stand at the door hoping to get a peek at this mighty man.

The newspapers tout them as being a “fine, upstanding Christian family.” The McMayhems are used by their viewers and members as a measuring stick to gauge how successful their marriages and families are.

Wives swoon at Pastor Matthew’s feet and look at their husbands in disgust.

Husbands look at Mrs. McMayhem in admiration and then look at their wives, wondering when they became so frumpy.

Mothers say to their children, “Look at little Misty and McKenna sitting still,” then the small ones whimper as mothers all across the sanctuary pinch little legs to get the culprits in line.

Children look at Misty and McKenna and wonder how many times their mom pinches them off-camera. How else could they sit so still?

The piano plays softly as Pastor McMayhem preaches. The choir sways as they are moved in the spirit of McMayhems words. As the excitement intensifies, the piano gets louder and the people shout in unison, “Amen!” and “Preach it, Brother!” Adult members sit at the edges of their seats, waiting for the next divine word to be spoken.

Pastor McMayhem uses phrases such as, “You, too, can be successful if only you…” and “for only $100 a week you, too, can have…” There is chaos as the congregation as one, rushes to get out checkbooks so as to be ready when the offering plate goes by.


Across the street, a small congregation of fifty gathers around their well-loved minister and his family to pray. The Taylors are going through hard times financially, as are many from the small community. The elders lay their hands on the couple. A sense of calmness spreads throughout the assembly as the spirit of the Lord fills the building. The people kneel at the altar and savor His presence. In the sweet quietness, the swell of music flows through their windows as the First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-Saved’, blares out the closing song. A spirit of grieving falls on the people and they begin to pray for their neighboring church as well.

This Bible-teaching church closes their service with hugs. Not wanting to leave, men and women huddle in small groups to pray or rejoice over answered prayers. Tears run down faces and eyes sparkle. They know they have been witnesses to the very presence of God this Lord’s Day, even as the evil spirit across the street seeks to destroy them.

After the service, Pastor and Mrs. Taylor walk to their car several blocks away, due to the high volume of traffic from their neighboring church. They hold hands as they watch their children laugh and pull pranks on each other. Not sure of their future, they know that God is protecting them and their small but faithful congregation. This makes their steps light and their mood joy-filled.

As the Taylors near the ‘First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-saved’, Pastor McMayhem and his family walk across the street to their large, two-story home.

Matthew scowls at his wife. “Why didn’t you tell me my button was undone?”

Mindy looks at her husband in disgust and snaps back, “It’s all I can do to keep these two brats in line. Besides that, you have that little blonde in the choir to shine your shoes and fix your tie. I’m surprised she didn’t notice!”

Pastor and Mrs. Taylor feel evil in the air as the two families pass by each other. “Good afternoon, Matt, Mindy.” Pastor Matthew acknowledges them with a flick of the wrist and continues to walk, spitting venom along the way.

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This article has been read 983 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/31/08
Great snapshot of the two churches--small church and mega-church, and sadly, very often true. Good job.
Bob Zoellner02/02/08
Unfortunately, you have captured what a lot of churches and ministries have become.

Especially in christian circles, "all that glitters is NOT gold."
Joanne Sher 02/04/08
Very, VERY creative, and completely on topic. Great descriptions especially.
Jan Ackerson 02/04/08
Lots of biting satire and irony in this piece, very well written.
Debbie Wistrom02/04/08
Loved the comparison and hope that getting caught not being perfect would be a wake up call for the future, liked the pace of this.
william price02/04/08
Satiracle indeed:)
Very well written. Communicated your point perfectly. I don't think all BIG churches are that way, but I understand your point. Our church broadcasts its services on TV and at times, I too, have felt more like a prop than a member. Your lead in was excellently written. God bless.
Joy Faire Stewart02/04/08
Excellent! Great contrasting and the message is right on topic.
Sherry Castelluccio 02/04/08
Wow, I know that second church :) Great story.
Pam Carlson-Hetland02/05/08
Great comparison. Loved the title and the name "Mc Mayhem". Clever. This is very well written and gets the points across extremely well. Good job!
LauraLee Shaw02/05/08
Love the way you hit the topic from two angles. This is an excellent piece.
Joanney Uthe02/06/08
Great comparison. I think most pastor's families feel under the camera. Your second pastor's family is much more rare, but their ministry more effective. I love the name of the first church "First-Church-of-the-Listen-to-Me-and-You-Will-Be-Saved" as well as of their pastor. Very descriptive uses of names.
Holly Westefeld02/06/08
Ditto to all of the above, the word play with mayhem, the contrast, the public slip in to true colors. And Matthew probably knows that Pastor Taylor will not gossip.
Sara Harricharan 02/06/08
Wow! you certainly caught the contrast between those two! I the opening half was very funny at first, but when the second half came and I reread the beginning, wow, that gives me shivers. Excellent descriptions! ^_^
Hanne Moon 02/06/08
Definitely hit the topic with this one. Pastors that seek their own instead of God's will definitely are glittery shells with no substance. Good job!
Rita Garcia02/06/08
Great illustration of topic!

Your gift for writing shines!
Beckie Stewart02/06/08
Enjoyed this story and the comparisons.
Karen Wilber02/06/08
This made me laugh - "Children look at Misty and McKenna and wonder how many times their mom pinches them off-camera." Besides the topic lesson, a good reminder of how we need to be real - and allow our pastors and their families to be real too.
Loren T. Lowery02/06/08
This message is ever so real. I wish more people could see through the hypocracy of some of the evangelist promoting the "name it and claim it" philosopy. I never realized until now, how these preachers also steal funds from their neiborhing churches. Great lesson - thanks for writing this.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/06/08
All the way through this creative story, I thought what a great piece you wrote to show comparison and contrast. I go to a big church that shares the heart of your small church.:-)
Marlene Austin02/09/08
Wanted to stop by your piece from last week to say thank you for being so faithful to come by and comment to us beginners. I always appreciate seeing your name in the box, your notes are always so insightful. :) Loved this piece for all the reasons already stated so many times. Your story flowed smoothly from the first thread to the second, then tied the two together in expert style. Thanks for sharing. :)
Holly Jensen02/16/08
This was a really good one. It made me sad to read it though. Men like that are headed for eternal punnishment and they are dragging many down with them. God help them all. Well done my friend.