The Class

Obviously it is my opinion that The Andy Griffith Show was a very special series, but is it really suitable to be the basis for an inspirational study?   Looking back, 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. When George Lindsay, who played Goober in the series, was asked about the idea of using the series for such a class, he replied, "One of the incredible things about every single episode is that Andy insisted each show have a moral point, something good, lofty and moral. It’s a shame current shows on TV don’t adopt that high road."

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If you are familiar with the series, it is not hard to think of an episode that portrayed a specific moral value. For example, Andy on Trial shows us the value of friendship and how easy it is to put our friendships at risk when we are concerned with exalting ourselves. The episode Opie the Birdman shows us the importance of taking responsibility for our actions, and how just saying "I’m sorry" doesn’t automatically fix everything. Mr. McBeevee gives us a very pointed lesson about trusting in one another and having faith, even when the evidence suggests otherwise. These examples and many more can be found throughout the series. In this day in age, it is refreshing to see these basic ideals brought forth in such a practical way.

Other reasons this show makes sense for a class is its familiarity and timelessness. Almost everybody has seen The Andy Griffith Show at one time or another, and most have a favorite character or scene. When you mention the idea of doing an inspirational class based on the show, most people immediately become curious. The more you explain the format, the more they begin to see the point. Before you know it, they are coming to the class and bringing their friends. The show becomes a source of common ground to attract people from all religious backgrounds and walks of life. Basically, it offers a casual, non threatening atmosphere for people to get together, have fun, and think about how we handle certain situations in life.

So, how do you go about preparing for such a class? In our case, the way the class came about is sort of an interesting story that I will try to cover quickly. I had envisioned such a class for a few years, but I had never really had the opportunity to act on the idea. My wife and I began attending Twickenham Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama, in the fall of 1996, and I soon became acquainted with some huge Andy Griffith fans. Brad Grasham, Lee Segrest, and others at the church had actually used the show as material for a teenage class in the past. I had also used clips of the show as part of a marriage enrichment class on Sunday mornings. However, no one had ever developed a full one-hour class aimed toward the adult membership. One Sunday night, our education director, James Kendrick, overheard Brad and myself exchanging some Mayberry trivia and he asked us if we would consider doing a Wednesday night adult class based on the show. Well, the rest is history...

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In developing the curriculum for the class, the first order of business was to select the episodes. There are 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show so you might think this was the easy part. Actually, it was a little harder than you might think. While all the shows are good, they all don’t lend themselves to a typical three point format (for example, a drunken Otis riding a cow may not be the point you're trying to get across). However, if you are familiar with the show, you probably already have a pretty good idea of which episodes would be applicable to use as part of the class.

Once the episodes were selected, we came up with a short outline to hand out to the attendees each week. The format we selected for the outline included a short introduction to the episode, the listing of three or four basic points to be gathered from the episode, and a few discussion questions to generate some conversation. Another thing that sort of evolved was a final thought, usually a quote from the episode that summed up the class each week. I usually roughed out the first cut of the outline while watching the episode itself. Once the main points were defined, finding Scriptural references to support the points came fairly easily. I tried to keep the main lesson points fairly general (e.g. faith, responsibility, pride, etc.), then was more specific with the sub-points and discussion items. A complete list and summary of the original episodes we used along with the corresponding outlines are available on this website.

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