Classic series provides parables for adult Bible study
Can a Sunday School curriculum find happiness as lessons based on the Andy Griffith Show? An Alabama church member believes so.
Joey Fann, member of the Twickenham Church of Christ, believes the second time is a charm. At least his second attempt at establishing a Web site on the teaching potential of television classic "The Andy Griffith Show" has resulted in a series of 12 lessons using the episodes from the series as parables for adult Bible classes.
Fann developed the BarneyFife.com Web site and class lessons, he says, because the program provides a springboard for discussion of moral and spiritual issues in an age almost bereft of such.
He says, "I believe the show is filled with the basic morals and Christian principles taught by the scriptures. Each show tended to have a good moral theme that was brought out by the story line. Basic values such as character, personal responsibility, honesty, and integrity were routinely exemplified by the show. I believe these characteristics to be uncommon for most television shows past or present."
Of course Fann was a big "Andy Griffith" fan to start with. He and a cousin spent weekends as students at Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tenn., watching old episodes at their grandparents house near the campus. Fann has seen some shows more than 100 times.
When he and his wife Nicole became members of the Twickenham church, Huntsville, in 1996, Fann was happy to find fellow enthusiasts Brad Grasham, Lee Segrest and others among the membership.
The series had been used as material for a teenage class at Twickenham, and Fann used clips in a marriage enrichment class at the church. When the churchs education director, James Kendrick, overheard the enthusiasts exchanging Mayberry trivia, he broached the question: would they consider developing a Wednesday adult class based on the show?
Not surprisingly, the answer was yes. The stage was set for Fann to pursue his dream: develop a lesson series using "Andy Griffith."
The first challenge, he says, was deciding which 12 of the 249 shows to use.
He settled on these episodes, familiar to all Mayberry fans: Opie's Charity, Man in a Hurry, Andy on Trial, Opie and the Spoiled Kid, Opie the Birdman, Rafe Hollister Sings, Opie's Hobo Friend, Andy Forecloses, Baileys Bad Boy, Mr. McBeevee, Barney & Thelma Lou, phfft! and Barney Fife, Realtor.
He then developed a lesson plan using scriptures and themes appropriate to each storys message. Thelessons included an introduction, the viewing of the episode, lesson points using scripture, discussion questions and a "final thought," a quote from the show that summed up the weeks class.
Twickenhams Wednesday night series was a solid success, Fann says, and as many as 85 people attended the classes.
He points to Matthew 13:34 as the key to the lesson series purpose and success: "Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable."
Obtaining the episodes
Obtaining the episodes needed and showing them legally is, of course, of key importance. Fann says, "Paramount owns the series and does market a limited number of episodes for commercial sale. These can usually be found where video collections are sold (Best Buy, Suncoast Video). Also, Columbia House has recently offered The Andy Griffith Show as part of its video club."
If the episodes are taped from television, Fann adds the caveat, "There are now laws that protect even the public display of copyright material (such as movies), even when no admission fee is involved. Paramount (the series owner) has been contacted, but to date no specific guidance has been given regarding any special licensing agreements that may be required in this classroom setting."
For updated information, to see lesson plans and to access an informational "Package on Line" about the lessons, see the web site: BarneyFife.com or e-mail Fann at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample Lesson: "Man in a Hurry"
Fann says this lesson was the most popular of the first series, entitled "Finding the Way back to Mayberry." All 12 lesson plans are on the Web site. He hopes to have an additional series available soon.
Its a quiet Sunday morning and Malcolm Tucker, the owner of Tucker Enterprises in Charlotte, experiences car trouble two miles outside of Mayberry. Mr. Tucker is in a hurry to return to Charlotte for a big business meeting on Monday. Sunday is a day of rest in Mayberry - a fact that collides with Mr. Tuckers hectic lifestyle. Wally, the filling station owner in Mayberry, prefers to sit on his porch and read the Sunday paper than be bothered by an out-of-town businessman with car problems. He assures Mr. Tucker that he will repair his car first thing in the morning. This doesnt satisfy Mr. Tucker, so he turns to Gomer Pyle for help. When Gomer proves to be no help at all, Mr. Tucker explodes and steals Gomers truck. Andy catches him but, under the conditions, refuses to press charges. Instead, Andy takes Mr. Tucker home with him for Sunday dinner...
Patience (James 1:3,4; II Peter 1:5-9) Something we must work on and develop; Lifes trials produce patience in us; How we learn is an indication of our maturity.
Priorities in Life (Phil. 3:7,8) What consumes our time? The need to acquire (Ill be happy when...); It is up to us to change.
Appreciation of the Little Things (Ecc. 7:29) God made us, WE have made ourselves complicated; Being still (Ps 46:10); Silence, a rarity in our time.
Serving Unselfishly (Luke 12:37,38) Genuine concern for others; the joy and satisfaction of serving.
How does Malcoms tirade "I want this car fixed now, today, this minute!" reflect on our society today?
What do you think about Wallys refusing to fix Mr.Tuckers car on Sunday?
Compare Barney and Mr. Tuckers approach to life. In the end, who was responsible for Mr. Tuckers change in attitude from the time his car broke down to when he fell asleep in the rocking chair?
"You people are living in another world"but oh, what a glorious world it is.