James Laverty, Souderton
There I stood trying to find a DVD to borrow from our public library when I overhead a conversation between two library workers about God and church.
“Why do people even go to church?” asked the young man.
“I don’t know,” replied the slightly older woman. By this time I was mindlessly scanning the DVD titles while my ear was engaged with their chat.
“It all seems too fake for me,” remarked the man.
“The last time I went to church,” she said “everyone seemed so dead. I can’t understand, what would make you put yourself through that?”
Changing people’s minds about what it means to do church is at the heartbeat of God’s mission. God delights in drawing “outsiders” in and “insiders” out (Ephesians 2:11-17). Jesus wants his people to put themselves in the shoes of those who have not grown up around God’s people. I am discovering how I have to make a deliberate choice to connect with people who live their lives on the “outside” because it’s far easier for me to stick with people who view life the way I do.
Our family was drawn to Souderton Mennonite Church three years ago because we heard how the congregation was actively demonstrating compassion for people in practical ways in our community. What excited us, after meeting Pastor Gerry Clemmer and finding a small group, was the variety of ways that our family could continue to grow in our passion for Jesus and find ways to serve both inside and outside of Souderton Mennonite. We were convinced God had led us to the congregation when we saw his love in action especially during times when people gathered around the four of us to pray for our needs.
Doing church at Souderton Mennonite has been anything but boring. This has been true not only for our family but also for the family, friends and neighbors we have invited to church activities. Three young fathers from my cul-de-sac joined me last fall for Men’s Monday Night Football Fellowship. We talked around tables about becoming better husbands, fathers, and men through God’s transforming power. We watched football and enjoyed meals together. As a result, our relationships as neighbors were taken to another level. This fall we’re inviting other men from our neighborhood to join us.
My aim in life is to lift up the name of Jesus by “loving on” people God has put around me. Demonstrating God’s kindness through acts of service, modeling godly character, and being a faithful friend. What is incredible is that I get to live out my life’s mission through my vocation!
As Souderton Mennonite Church’s Pastor of Equipping and Discipleship, I am working with teams to build and direct a full-fledged equipping system that welcomes, disciples, equips, and offers ministry opportunities for each person who chooses to be a part of our congregation.
By fully relying on God, I hope to lead other people through a journey similar to the one I began when we visited Souderton Mennonite Church for the first time. I long to see individuals like the two library workers in the DVD room change their thinking about what it means to become one of God’s people. I can only imagine what our community will look like as we, the Church, embrace our mission to multiply Christ’s love through our lives.
Jim is also a board member with Franconia Conference. Before joining the pastoral team at Souderton, he was servd as a missionary in Spain and upon returning to the United States worked at the Philadelphia Access Center .