CityLight Omaha




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

Staff Team


Gavin Johnson – Pastor

Gavin is a teacher, a leader, and a shepherd. He and his wife, Sarah, have three kids – Grady, Vivian, and Levi. 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.


Tyler Zach – Leadership Development & Communication Pastor

Tyler is a strategic thinker, developer, and equipper. He and his wife, Lindsey, have two kids, Zane and Zeke. After becoming a Christian and graduating with a degree in Management Information Systems at UNO, Tyler joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru). He served 8 years on staff in Omaha and served one year as the K-State Cru Director in Manhattan, KS. Tyler is responsible for serving the church in the areas of leadership development and communication. His goal is to build structures for long-term growth as well as assist future church planting efforts. In his free time he enjoys reading, date nights, playing with his boys, and dreaming about beating Chris Hruska in a game of basketball.


Doug Stevens – Family Pastor

Doug is a pastor, friend, and worshiper.  He and his wife, Whitney, have four children – Caedmon, Gabby, Shiloh, and Talitha.  After thirteen years of vocational ministry, Doug connected with Citylight through relationships with their leaders and a passion for their mission.  He is honored to walk with people on the journey of life, connect the power of the Word and the Spirit to real life situations, and empower parents to disciple their children.  Doug doesn’t have free time.  He has four young children who are way better than free time.  With them, he loves to play soccer, read books, and play with their dog, Honey.

Gabe Jasso – Director of Worship & Media

Gabriel oversees the musical worship and media of Citylight Church. He enjoys music of all sorts and loves his wife, Ashley, very much. While attending the second largest college in Nebraska (MCC), Gabriel was the college worship leader at Christ Community Church and since then has learned how to interact with old people by singing old songs about Jesus. When not writing the next hymn to stand the test of time, Gabe enjoys chilling with his wife, a good bar (music), and a couple bars.


Alex Marquez – Citylight High Intern

Alex Marquez is a passionate disciple maker and shepherd.  He graduated from Wayne State college with a degree in Education and is currently in pursuit of his masters degree in Christian Studies from Crown College. Alex is leading Citylight High, the high school ministry of Citylight Church. He enjoys basketball, putting people in arm bars, long walks on the beach, and puppies.

Andrew Rutten – Citylight U College 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 college ministry. In his free time, Andrew likes reading, dressing like a pastor, and beating Chris in basketball.

Sarah Buettenback – Director of Serving Teams & Outreach

Sarah is Citylight’s Director of Serving Teams, Assimilation and Neighborhood Outreach.  She loves helping people get connected in community and using their gifts in the church. Sarah and her husband, Bo, run a non-profit basketball league called SCORE 4 Sports in Ralston with their two sports-crazy kids, Roy and Rex. When she’s not at a ball game, you will find her in her kitchen brewing up Kombucha or making some other weird, healthy snacks to share with the staff.

Kelly Williams – Citylight Kids Director

Kelly is a follower of Jesus. She is a single mom with 2 grown children with 2 Teenage daughters still at home.She has no seminary or College Degree. Her experience has come through life trials and on-the-job training. She has been homeschooling her kids for the last 25 years. She loves Jesus, her family, and her community. Kelly is grateful to serve with a team of amazing people who are so willing to love and bless Citylight Kids and their families. Her administrative skills come in handy while scheduling and training the growing group of Citylight Kids Volunteers. In her spare time, she is a member of the Home Educators Network Board, publishes their monthly Newsletter, and watches lots of old movies with Kaylee and Shanda.


Jenn Bergman – Administrative Assistant

Jenn oversees Citylight’s administrative functions and serves as the Pastoral Assistant. She loves concerts, dancing, riding motorcycles, traveling, and baking. If she had to live off of one food for the rest of her life it would be sushi. Her secret ambition is to hug a real bear and her favorite place is Mykonos, Greece. Also, she thinks Christian mingle is destroying peoples lives.