Citylight Church was planted in the fall of 2012 with a small team of folks who had a prayerful desire to see Omaha transformed by the gospel. The first Citylight gathering was 8 people in a living room, praying for God to move in our city. After a few months, that group grew to more than 30 people praying in a larger living room. Then, in September of 2012, a core team of around 100 people rallied behind the vision to see a church planted that wasn’t primarily about a place with programs, but about a people with a purpose – experiencing God through the gospel and bringing the light of the gospel to every neighborhood and network of people in Omaha.
During this pre-launch season so much attention was given to learning to “scatter” as a church, that thinking through where we would “gather” on Sunday mornings was almost overlooked. As the core team grew, they realized a living room would only work for so long. That’s when they heard about an old, abandoned church building at 40th and Cuming – in the heart of mid-town Omaha. The 106-year-old stained glass and pipe organ were perfectly preserved, but the plaster was crumbling off the walls and ceiling, there were holes in the roof, and the basement was full of mold. It needed some love. To a group of young, adventurous, risk-taking church planters, that is called “perfect.”
Over a short period of time the asking price on the building dropped from a half-million, to $350,000, to $100,000. Not knowing where the money would come from, the core team continued to pray. Then, in an overwhelming display of generosity and dedication to church planting, the Midamerica District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance informed the core leaders that they would be happy to purchase the building for this developing church community. The only repayment required was a commitment to paying the blessing forward to the Kingdom of God in Omaha.
Over the next months, God raised up leaders to give traction to this vision and 8 City Groups were launched – teams of people living on mission in defined neighborhoods and networks in Omaha. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers poured thousands of hours of work into renovating the old church building. The neighborhood around the building started to be impacted as core team members started reaching out and meeting the tangible needs of neighbors while renovating the church building. People who previously didn’t know Jesus met Jesus and joined the team. A work of God was taking root. A “city on a hill” was forming.
On February 3, 2013 Citylight Church launched its first official public service with over 500 people in attendance. Today, new city groups are forming, lives are being transformed, and Jesus is being honored as his Word is preached and his gospel proclaimed.
Citylight Church is a story of answered prayer. But the story is just getting started.
Citylight is committed to multiplying disciples and churches. Citylight longs to see a movement of gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, city-transforming churches planted in our city and region and we trust that this is just the beginning.
Citylight Church is a part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. As such, we joyfully affirm and adopt the C&MA doctrinal statement: viewable here
Maintaining a commitment to gospel-centered ministry, we also gladly affirm the Gospel Coalition’s foundation documents: viewable here
Gavin Johnson – Lead Pastor
Gavin is a teacher, a leader, and a shepherd. He and his wife, Sarah, have two kids, Grady and Vivian. Gavin has education ADD and did his undergrad in Accounting at UNL and UNO and his Masters in Christian Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary and Crown College. After a season as a College and Teaching Pastor at Christ Community Church in Omaha, Gavin felt God’s prompting to lead a new work in Omaha. He is responsible for the vision and direction of Citylight and is the primary preacher. In his free time he likes wrestling Grady, drinking coffee, and shooting Bambi’s dad with his bow.
Chris Hruska – City Groups Pastor
Chris is a leader, an evangelist, and a mobilizer. He and his wife, Kristin, have a son, Paxton. After graduating from Wayne State College, Chris joined staff with Campus Crusade for Christ where he led a staff team of campus missionaries. He spent six years starting student discipleship movements at colleges all across Nebraska. Chris is responsible for equipping and coaching City Group leaders to create and multiply thriving City Groups all over Omaha. In his free time, Chris likes to play basketball, watch basketball, and talk about Jesus and basketball.
Andrew Rutten – Church Planting Intern
Andrew is a learner, a leader and a teacher. He graduated from UNO with a degree in Political Science and is currently attending Reformed Theological Seminary to attain his Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies. Andrew is coming to CityLight after serving in the college ministry at Christ Community Church. It was here that he met Gavin and found a passion for teaching and making disciples. His growing desire for planting churches made it clear that God was calling him to Citylight. He will hold a pastoral intern position for two years and will lead CityLight U. In his free time, Andrew likes reading, dressing like a pastor, and beating Chris in basketball.