A Prayed-For Plant
Nearly five years after the first conversations about a church plant in Aviemore - one of Scotland’s fastest growing towns and the UK’s top ski resort – and after a global pandemic nonetheless, Hope Church has launched.
It’s been a team effort for sure, with more than 20 FIEC churches, a group of pastors from North Carolina, FIEC's Director for Scotland Andy Hunter, Acts 29, and others prayerfully coming together to make it happen.
I caught up with Hope Church’s pastor Kenny Rogan, who previously told the story of the call for him, his wife Lesley, and their children to move to Aviemore, to see how it has been going.
Launch and growth
“We have been really encouraged since launching. The team have been so enthusiastic and full of love as they have stepped up and worked hard to run everything and welcome everyone.” Kenny said.
The core team of 11 have been integral in the launch and quick growth at Hope Church - numbers have trebled since the first meeting in August 2021. There’s been an influx of kids too – almost as many as there are adults.
There is never a guarantee of long-lasting fruit when planting a church, however, there has been a harvest in Aviemore so far - praise God!
“Seeing folks grow in their faith has been wonderful. Folks who maybe weren't regularly getting personal time with God, starting to and growing in that. Folks who are going through hard things, persevering and helping each other. Folks are extending hospitality to the diversity of the church and their neighbours.”
There’s even a baptism planned for a man who had come to faith at Hope Church and grown “like a weed”!
Energy levels and equipping
However, with a small team, as is the nature of church planting, Kenny is keen to get the balance right: “They are so class and committed and willing to cheerfully serve. Other similar folks have joined since. But I am very conscious to hold them back and not burn them out. We are all crawling to the summer holidays!”
Hope Church hold an all-age service once a month which has partly been organised to address this. The team who are normally hard at work in the band and teaching the kids get a week off, with worship videos used instead of musicians and children staying in the whole service.
Kenny also shared his desire to keep the focus on witnessing and evangelism: “I keep worrying that we think we've arrived because Sundays feel busy and that we’ll take the foot off the missional gas pedal."
Having a busy church service isn’t a bad situation to be in at all! But it’s so important to keep remembering that need to reach the unreached in your community, wherever you are. You’ve never ‘made it’.
“Probably the most important thing - which we are still trying to grow in - is equipping folks to witness to their friends,” Kenny said. “Most of our guys are involved in sports or work stuff or school stuff locally, so they have good circles of friends. Helping them connect the gospel to conversations with these guys is big.”
Every local church has been put in a specific context by God for a reason. And every local church context is different to the next one. So it was fascinating to hear that the things that have been thought about and prayed for – as opposed to copied from other churches – have been the most effective.
For example, Aviemore is the biggest town in the Strathspey Valley area, but the only one without a toddler group. “We prayed about starting a toddler group, then chatted to the team, and then started planning. God has blessed that with many folks coming and some showing interest in church,” Kenny shared. A ministry that meets a need rather than something to fulfil a felt duty.
“Whenever I've thought we should do something because it's what other churches do, they have either not happened or have been less effective.”
A prayed-for plant
It’s clear in speaking with Kenny that prayer has been an integral part of the story of Hope Church Aviemore. From those first conversations more than five years ago, through to Kenny and his family moving up to Scotland, and now in the ongoing ministry in the town.
“Hope Church has been a very prayed-for plant - with folks from across the globe praying for us. We've also prioritised this from the early days” he said. “Keeping prayer central is a crucial thing to reach local people.”
So please can I encourage you to keep praying for Hope Church? For Kenny, Lesley, their kids, and the core team; for the new believers who have come to the church; for the people of Aviemore that they are seeking to reach?
As Kenny said to me: “Launching is a massively exciting step. Now the hard work and privilege of living as a church open to everyone begins. We’d value your prayer!”