"American Idol" will narrow down to the final two Wednesday, just days after sending the top three finalists back to their hometowns to receive their hero's welcome.
Though 27-year-old Adam Lambert has been long heralded as the likely winner of the Fox TV singing contest, it was clear this past week that contenders Danny Gokey and Kris Allen are already considered winners by many – especially their pastors.
"Awesome to see to solid believers in the top 3," Jeff Pruit, Gokey's pastor at Faith Builders International Ministries in Milwaukee, wrote to Rick Bezet, Allen's pastor at New Life Church in Conway, Ark.
"I know pastor! God is increasing these young men! Sort of a prayer of Jabez move going," responded Bezet via Twitter, referring to the popular prayer that appears in 1 Chronicles 4:10 of the Bible.
Over the weekend, the "American Idol" finalists had returned to their hometowns – and, for Gokey and Allen, homechurches – where they were each welcomed with a city-sanctioned holiday in their name.
"Danny ... went to Summerfest for his first concert, where 26,000 to 28,000 fans were waiting for him. It was incredible," Pruit reported Monday.
"Then he went to Miller Park to sing the National Anthem before 40,000 people. I'm very proud of Danny, and I'm very proud of our church for always believing in people, small or great," he exclaimed.
Gokey, who turned 29 last month, was a music teacher at Faithbuilders before auditioning for the eighth season of "American Idol."
Fellow believer and Idol contender Allen, meanwhile, was working with the worship ministry at New Life Church in Conway.
Both Gokey and Allen are considered the underdogs in the remaining two rounds of the competition, which many believe will crown Lambert its winner during next week's season finale.
On Monday, Idol judge Simon Cowell told Oprah Winfrey that he thinks Lambert will come out on top, saying that he is "unique" and has "got swagger."
"I think he's got that 'it.' And I think he's fearless," he told Winfrey.
The top two finalists will be announced during Wednesday's results show, while the season finale will begin next Tuesday night followed the next evening with the two-hour season finale event.
For the past four seasons, more than 30 million people have tuned in for the season finale of "American Idol."