I spent most of 2013 doing my level-headed best to not write. The thing that got me back was a goofy-ass writing prompt over at Slacktivist wherein Fred suggested suggested a Wheaton-centric Christian version of Portlandia. I immediately wanted that to exist and, more importantly, I wanted to write it. Wheaton, after all, is my hometown and Portlandia is one of my favorite shows. So I wrote a bunch of “episodes” and posted them in the comments. Now they’re here. For posterity.
And we get to the introduction of Pastor Kyle. Hooray!
Wheatonia, Episode 4
WHEATON EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH
12:15 AM SUNDAY
(Establishing shot of exterior of a church. Camera switches to BRENDAN and AMANDA walking out the doors.)
BRENDAN: Well that wasn’t so bad.
AMANDA: No. Good service, nice people, not one song that sounded like a command for you to do inappropriate things with other men. I liked it.
BRENDAN: Yeah. Maybe we should come back again.
(BRENDAN’S phone rings. He pulls it out of his pocket and looks at the number, then tentatively puts the
phone to his ear.)
MALE VOICE: Is this Brendan Doubleday?
BRENDAN: Yes. Can I help you?
MALE VOICE: This is Pastor Kyle of Wheaton Evangelical Free Church. I noticed that you were in our service today.
BRENDAN (clearly puzzled): Yeah. My fiancee and I are looking for a new church.
PASTOR KYLE: And your previous church was College Church, correct?
PASTOR KYLE: That’s excellent news. Hey, can I make a request?
BRENDAN: Sure. I guess.
PASTOR KYLE: Can you and your lovely fiancee come in for a meeting with me? Preferably some time this week, but whenever is good for you. I’d love to talk.
BRENDAN: Yeah. I guess. How about Thursday at 7 PM?
PASTOR KYLE: That would be fantastic. How about we meet at La Spiaza? I love their lattes.
BRENDAN: Yeah. Great.
PASTOR KYLE: Excellent. I’ll be there.
(BRENDAN hangs up the phone.)
AMANDA: What was that all about?
BRENDAN: Pastor Kyle wants to meet with us.
AMANDA: Pastor Kyle? As in the Pastor Kyle of the church we just attended for the first time ever?
BRENDAN: That’s the one.
BRENDAN: Beats me. But I kinda want to find out.
10:00 AM WEDNESDAY
(Establishing shot of PASTOR BOB’s office. PASTOR BOB is working on something at his desk when ETHAN walks in. [Ed. Note: PASTOR BOB is pretty much modeled off of most Bob Odenkirk characters.])
ETHAN: You wanted to see me, Pastor Bob?
PASTOR BOB: Yes, Ethan, come in, take a seat.
ETHAN (sits): What can I do for you.
PASTOR BOB: I want to talk to you about your father, Ethan.
PASTOR BOB: Yes. I’m worried that he’s left us.
PASTOR BOB: College Church. The church is a family, Ethan. You can’t just leave family. That would be
like…like…leaving school or telling your favorite band, “Nope, I’m not going to listen to you guys
anymore.” Wouldn’t that be crazy?
ETHAN: Well…um…I guess.
PASTOR BOB: Look, Ethan, I’m going to level with you. You can’t let your father leave College Church and you certainly can’t let them go to Wheaton Ev Free.
PASTOR BOB: Because Pastor Kyle will suck him into his little cult of personality and you’ll lose him. Forever.
ETHAN: Lose him? How.
PASTOR BOB: Forever, Ethan. For-EVER.
ETHAN: You’re not making any sense.
PASTOR BOB (getting visibly angry): Oh, I’m not making sense am I? I’m not making sense? I’M not MAKING SENSE!?
(PASTOR BOB looks around his desk, then picks up a sheet of paper and shakes it at ETHAN.)
PASTOR BOB: You see this sheet of paper, Ethan? This is your father’s soul. Now this is what Pastor Kyle will do to it.
(PASTOR BOB crumples the paper and throws it in the wastebasket.)
PASTOR BOB: You don’t want that, do you?
ETHAN: Uh. No. I guess.
PASTOR BOB: Think about it, then.
ETHAN: I will. Sure.
(ETHAN leaves. PASTOR BOB goes back to working. A moment later he starts shuffling through papers on his desk.)
PASTOR BOB (muttering to himself): Crap. Why do I always throw my sermon notes out when I do that?
LA SPIAZA COFFEE HOUSE
7:00 PM THURSDAY
(Establishing shot of the interior of a coffee shop. BRENDAN and AMANDA are nervously fiddling with their drink mugs when PASTOR KYLE enters. [Ed. Note: Pastor Kyle is most definitely played by Kyle MacLachlan.])
PASTOR KYLE: Hey, you guys. Thanks for meeting me.
BRENDAN (looking puzzled): How do you know who we are?
PASTOR KYLE (sitting down): Have you had their gelato? I love a good gelato. So many flavors. Chocolate, vanilla, pistachio. Pistachio ice cream! Who’d have thought that would be a good idea? But it is. It really is.
AMANDA: I like strawberry gelato.
PASTOR KYLE: Strawberry? (PASTOR KYLE looks disappointed) I guess that’s okay, too.
BRENDAN: So, um…can I ask what’s going on here?
PASTOR KYLE: Oh, of course. This is about your visit to our little church on Sunday.
AMANDA: We gathered as much.
PASTOR KYLE: Look, I’m going to level with you. Wheaton Evangelical Free Church has been growing by leaps and bounds. We had ten new people this past Sunday alone. Two of them were from First Baptist. Four were from Wheaton Bible. Two were from Glen Ellyn Bible, if you can believe it. But you were the only two from College Church. And I hear that you have children, so that’s fantastic.
PASTOR KYLE: Let me finish. What I want to know is this: how do I get more people to come to my church? Specifically, how do I get more College Church people to come to Wheaton Ev Free?
AMANDA: I don’t understand the question.
PASTOR KYLE: It’s simple. I’ve been trying for years to make us the biggest non-denominational, unaffiliated protestant church in Wheaton. I thought I’d succeeded when Wheaton Bible Church moved to West Chicago, but then Pastor Bob showed up at College Church and suddenly I was back in second place. So now I need to know what sorts of things College Church people want to do that would get them to come to Wheaton Ev Free.
AMANDA (obviously confused): Have you tried looking for people outside the church?
PASTOR KYLE: What, you mean like Catholics?
AMANDA: No, like, non-Christians.
PASTOR KYLE (chuckling): Non-Christians? Why would I want them to come to my church? They’ll just show up with their biology textbooks and their heavy metal music and muck everything up. I mean, they probably don’t even know our Statement of Doctrinal Truth or the right way to pray to Jesus if you can’t find your keys and your car won’t start.
BRENDAN: Well, you could, you know, teach them.
PASTOR KYLE: Who has time for that? I’m a busy man and I have a church to run.
AMANDA: But, still. Have you thought about service projects?
PASTOR KYLE: Oh, we have those. There’s “Clean the Church with Pastor Kyle Day” the third Saturday of every month. And the first weekend of every December we send the youth groupout to hang Christmas decorations on the houses of our older members.
BRENDAN: But, like, do you do anything that focuses outside of your church?
PASTOR KYLE: Well, we used to sponsor Abstinence Day at the local high schools, but then the courts told us we had to cut it out.
AMANDA: That’s it?
PASTOR KYLE: Hey, running a church takes a lot of time.
AMANDA: Humor us, please. Think about trying to find a way to grow your church from outside.
PASTOR KYLE: But church growth is church growth. It doesn’t matter where the people come from.
AMANDA: But if you get ten people who came from College Church then that’s ten people who aren’t going to College Church anymore.
PASTOR KYLE: Yes. That’s the goal.
BRENDAN (sighing heavily): Please. Just humor us.
PASTOR KYLE: Okay, I’ll look into it. But…you guys will come back, right?
(BRENDAN and AMANDA look at each other. AMANDA shrugs.)
AMANDA: Yeah. Probably. At least you’re not telling us to do butt stuff.
PASTOR KYLE: Oh, yeah. I’ve heard there’s a bit of a pandemic of that going around at College Church. Do you think it would help get people here if I started telling people to do it at my church?