News Worth Celebrating.
Citylight we have some great news! We are staying in Midtown! We want to see every neighborhood transformed by the Gospel and yet God has used being present in the Walnut Hill neighborhood to knit our hearts to the people who live here! A few months ago, staying in Midtown didn’t seem possible. We had been trying to buy the Omar building for over a year and faced numerous obstacles that kept us from closing.
Additionally, we could not find a building in Midtown that had the parking and space our large church family needs. So, we prayed hard, we invited you to pray and we started looking around the city for options and God showed up. Issues that kept us from buying the Omar were resolved. Citylight, I want to thank you for praying and being patient. It has been a journey but Jesus is providing!
A Problem Worth Considering.
As much as we are celebrating being able to stay in the Omar building long term, we are quickly realizing that this doesn’t solve all of our problems. We have no parking, our kid’s ministry spaces are at capacity and we are straining the neighborhood that we gather in. To help keep up with what God is doing, we have added chairs to our sanctuary and started having three Sunday morning gatherings but our current reality is the Omar building is at maximum capacity. It’s full!
We celebrate this but this does create a problem because it means we can’t see another two hundred college students, refugees, neighborhood families or young adults come into our church family, meet Jesus and start to take part in what God is doing at Citylight.
Our vision is to multiply disciples of Jesus and churches. To do nothing would mean we are done making new disciples of Jesus. That’s not ok. Citylight, we can’t stop moving forward and asking Jesus to do more in our city. One of our Elders recently said, “the message of the gospel is too good to keep to ourselves, we would be selfish to keep this good news and this church family to ourselves”. He is right! So, what do we do?
One Church that Gathers in Two Locations!
In the process of looking for a place to gather in, we found an unoccupied grocery story near Oak View Mall. The building is everything we are looking for, it’s large enough to not only house our whole church family, but allow us to continue to grow and make new disciples of Jesus! But the more we considered this West Omaha option, we realized we loved everything about the building except the location. We couldn’t imagine leaving the relationships we’ve built in the city behind.
So, we prayed, we fasted and we tried to discern what God was leading us to do. To stay in Midtown would mean that we couldn’t reach new people with the gospel and to move out into a larger facility in West Omaha would mean leaving a huge hole in the neighborhood. People who walk to our church currently would lose their church family and be unable to worship with us.
Additionally, as we wrestled with this decision we discovered that 60% of our church lives in West Omaha and 40% of our church lives in Midtown. West Omaha people have been limited in their ability to reach their neighbors because the invitation to join us on a Sunday means a 20-30 minute drive. Plus, people in Midtown are limited in their ability to invite their friends and neighbors because there is literally no room for new people.
So, again we prayed as an Elder Team and realized this may be God’s way of inviting us into something we would have never otherwise imagined or considered. We thought, “what if we became one church that gathers in two locations and scatters throughout the city into city groups…”
What if we started a new West Omaha gathering that would allow the people who live in West Omaha to live on mission in greater ways? What if we lowered the barriers for people to worship Jesus by going to them instead of just inviting them to come to us? And what if the people who live, work and play in Midtown could stay in their community on a Sunday to worship Jesus? What if they could once again focus on reaching students, refugees, young adults and those who call Midtown home? What if God was calling us not simply to move, but multiply gatherings so that more people in our city could have access to the gospel?
I want to just own that this would be a very new norm for our church family and we don’t have all of the numbers figured out, but the Elders are in unity and we sense this is the direction God is leading. Citylight, doing nothing is not an option. We want to take real steps of faith and leverage our lives so that more in our city can encounter, meet and follow the Jesus that we treasure!
What Would This Look Like?
I know some of you have questions about what it would look like to be one church that gathers in two locations… Again, we don’t have all of the answers but please know we are committed to live preaching. Gavin, I and others will be rotating to preach at both gathering locations. One week Gavin may preach a sermon in West Omaha and the next week he would preach that same sermon at Midtown. Additionally, both Midtown and West Omaha locations will have their own city groups, student and kid’s ministries as well as a full-time pastor whose primary role would be leading the staff and caring for the people who gather at that location.
Citylight, we want to invite you to ask us any additional questions. Please know we love you. We are praying for you and we are filled with faith and excited to be apart of Jesus building His church in our city! Jesus has been the lead pastor of this church since we launched and we trust He is leading us now!