Mayberry’s church was a real community

I wonder what would it be like to go to church and feel like I’m really a part of a community.

I’ve never felt that in church. Every time I go I feel I’m sitting by myself. My wife is with me. We’re alone. We know people in the room. There’s a friend. Over there is another. Hey look, another friend is three rows back and on the aisle.

But look over there. There’s someone I know by name. I couldn’t call them a friend though. There’s another. And another. I know that face, but can’t remember the name.

I wonder why that couple over there never speaks to us anymore. It’s not like we don’t know them — and they know us. It feels too weird now to talk to them. I feel like we’d have to re-introduce ourselves to them. But we do know them.

Same with that couple there.

Why has this gone on so long? Why does this take place in every church I’ve been to in my life? Except when I was younger. That’s when I sat with the other kids in the back row of the balcony. Or with the guys from school in the front-third set of pews on the right.

But that wasn’t community, was it? Those were just friends hanging out because we had to be there…or we chose to be there…or we wanted to show others we were there.

I know Mayberry is make-believe. I wish it weren’t. I love how they got all dressed up even on the hot days, sat in old pews, sang hymns together, and actually looked like they liked each other. They knew each other. After the service was over they all talked to each other because they loved each other. They would rather be hot wearing suits in order to be with God and friends than to be cool in pique and feel alone.

Mayberry’s church was a real community.

And maybe that’s just the way it is. Maybe church and real community is a fiction. Maybe it’s achievable. Maybe it exists outside the walls I’ve been inside.

Yet I still wonder what it would be like to go to a church and feel like I’m really a part of a community.

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  • I hear ya. I think the same thing when I watch Andy Griffeth, Little House, and the Waltons. Sometimes TVLand is where it’s at.

    At RTS, we have a phrase for this. We’re living in the “not yet.” We should be able to experience real community when we’re in church. But we don’t….yet. But one day we will, and that day will last for eternity.

  • A great post! Thanks!
    I must say that Wentworth Presbyterian — the under 50 member Church I have pastored for 20 years — has some elements of the “community” you refer to — but at times I can see we still have a ways to go! What you have posted about it a dream for what the church should be — but is not yet. The thing is — I believe it is God’s dream — and should be ours, too — and I believe God continues to strengthen us to work for that dream.

  • Anonymous

    In Mayberry, they were also all white – every last one of them. Maybe it wasn’t that great after all.

  • Maybe that is why I love Little House and the Waltons so much!

    I took a long sabbatical from going to church a few months ago for this very same reason. I am now attending a church that my kids and I like and I hope it works out.

  • Just found your blog — had a hard time sleeping last night and started reading blogs that were new to me 🙂

    Enjoying reading yours!