Mayberry doesn’t exist anymore

February 4, 2019

“Barney Gets His Man” is a favorite episode from The Andy Griffith Show. In that episode, there’s a high-speed car chase, Andy carries a gun and an African-American citizen can be seen in the background when the criminal is apprehended

If that’s the only episode you ever watch, you might think Mayberry is a center for urban crime with a diverse population. If you watch more than one episode, you realize that’s not a good representation of Mayberry.

On the other hand, nothing much was true about Mayberry anyway.

Though based on the towns of Mayberry and Pilot Mountain, the show was filmed on Hollywood backlots. Just about the only real establishment on the show was Snappy Lunch, where you can still get a pork chop sandwich today. You can get a haircut at Floyd’s Barbershop, but that opened later because of the show.

We don’t like to think of Mayberry as fiction. Andy Griffith makes us nostalgic for the good ol’ days. The only hardened criminals in Mayberry were passing through. Prankster Ernest T. Bass never did anyone any real harm. And on Sunday, everyone in town, including Otis the lovable drunk, gathered at the All Souls Church.

What remains unchanged is the Great Commission that Jesus imparted to the church to make disciples of all people.

I travel to “Mayberry” a lot, and not just for the pork chop sandwich. I’ve got family nearby. I’ve run in the Mayberry Half Marathon. I also travel to Mayberry as a missionary.

“Mayberry,” or Mount Airy, is also known as pocket of lostness No. 159. Recently I stopped on the side of Haymore Street to look at some data about pocket No. 159.

One of three families with children has no father in the home. One out of four adults over the age of 25 didn’t graduate from high school. There is far more ethnic diversity than the TV show would have led us to believe.

About one in six families live below the federal poverty line. And 11,000 of the 16,000 people who live there do not know Jesus. Suddenly I realized that I was parked right in front of Andy Griffith’s homeplace. We are definitely not in Mayberry anymore!

Mayberry, if it ever existed like we see it on the show, certainly does not exist anymore. All across North Carolina are little Mayberry-like towns that aren’t like they were a generation or two ago.

What remains unchanged, however, is the Great Commission that Jesus imparted to the church to make disciples of all people.

Whether you are in pocket No. 159 or anywhere else, there are lost people all around you, often within the shadows of steeples of North Carolina Baptist churches. Filled with the Holy Spirit, and committed to the task of impacting lostness through disciple-making, your church and every member of it can make a difference.

While some may wish for a return to Mayberry, we have the opportunity for something even better. As the gospel transforms lives in our communities, we find ourselves on the advancing edge of the kingdom of God.


by Russ Reaves  
Strategic Focus Team  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

‘God’s Great Work’ is 2019 BSCNC theme

With a focus on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, “God’s Great Work” is the theme for the 2019 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Annual Meeting, which is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 11-12, at the Joseph H. Koury Convention Center in...

Where are the true worshipers?

It’s been said that everyone worships, and everyone is a worshiper. Some worship pleasures. Some worship popularity. But everyone worships something. In His encounter with the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus declared that God the Father was seeking a special kind of worshiper —...

How should Christians respond to Earth Day?

Earth Day is recognized each year on April 22. Earth Day originated in the United States in 1970 as a way to increase awareness and education about the environment and environmental issues. The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 and is credited with ushering in the...

What makes Good Friday good?

Have you ever stopped to consider why Good Friday is described as “good” if that’s the day Jesus was crucified? On the surface, “sorrowful” may appear to be a more appropriate description of the day that the sinless God-man Jesus the Christ was crucified in our place on a cruel...

People of the Book resource now available

We, Baptists, are known as people of the Book. What book is it? It is the Word of God, the Bible. What a wonderful nickname we have! By God’s grace, we have lived, and will continue to live, up to our nickname. Southern Baptists have been proactive in preaching the gospel and...

Robersons receive 2019 Heritage Award from BSCNC

Richard and Doris Roberson, longtime managers of Truett Camp and Conference Center in Hayesville, N.C., have received the 2019 Heritage Award from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC). The award is one of the highest forms of recognition among North Carolina...

Is neglect stealing your joy?

“Pay Attention!” These are the words that stop us in our tracks — children, athletes, students and employees alike heed these infamous words. In the letter to the Hebrews, the author calls the recipients to “pay much closer attention to what [they had] heard” because they were in...

Planning for college

How do we stop losing young adults in church? It seems part of the answer lies in our focus during high school, as well as the transition from high school to college. In a survey released by Lifeway Research, new data shows that the number one reason for not attending church for...

5 Comments

  1. Sally Matheny

    Great article! I found it entertaining while bringing home a clear and important message.

    Reply
  2. Amanda

    Hello! Good article. Can you tell us how you pulled the statistics for Mount Airy and surrounding area please? Interested in the stats specifically. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Russ Reaves

      Thanks for a great question! We use a variety of demographic and mapping services which analyze streams of data ranging from the U. S. Census to the Annual Church Profile of NC Baptist Churches, with many points in between. We like to always specify that demographics are a snapshot in time and they evolve, so we need to verify this information by getting out in the community to prayerwalk, prayer-drive, meet and converse with neighbors. Usually what we find is that our data is pretty accurate. Where there are anomalies, we can usually detect the reason for it (census bloc spillover, people group migration, gentrification, etc.). Even in those very rare occasions, however, when our data is proven wrong, we rejoice because followers of Christ have gone out to interact with the community and intercede for it. So, if we’re wrong, please tell us! The data, whether it is right or wrong, is a starting point to catalyze missional engagement in the community.

      Reply
  3. Pastor Ray Eaton

    In the video above about rural evangelism, what are the action steps, resources, suggestions, and training that y’all do to help us with this?
    I’m a rural congregation pastor in one of these areas and churches and in almost two years I’ve made zero impact or headway. How can you help me?

    Reply
    • Russ Reaves

      Hi Pastor Ray! Thanks for your excellent question! Big picture answer here: disciple your people well, saturating your community with prayer, and gospel conversation training. And, we have resources and events to assist with all of the above. Now, more specifically, the Strategic Focus Team has strategy coordinators working across the state to help churches utilize the tools, resources, and specialists of the BSCNC as they build individualized strategies to impact lostness in their community. Please email me some information about your church and community, and I will personally connect you to the Strategy Coordinator for your area to set up a meeting to discuss these things. God bless you pastor!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and event information by signing up for the N.C. Baptist newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!