In the fall of 2012, a small and struggling church in Lincoln, Nebraska came to the pastors at Candlewood-Omaha requesting help. If this small church didn’t receive help, they feared they would have to close their doors. They wondered if Candlewood-Omaha would be interested in allowing them to merge with their church.
The two pastors at Candlewood prayed about this request. Was this what the Lord had for Candlewood? Planting churches was always a desire of the church, but a replant had never been considered. God gave a verse to one of the pastors at Candlewood that confirmed the direction.
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” – Acts 16:9
After more prayer and careful consideration, they decided that God was behind this and that a team should be sent down the road to Husker nation!
A small team was formed and began making the transition to Lincoln. At this time, what is now Candlewood-Lincoln took on the same structure as Candlewood-Omaha. Each church shared the same ministry calendar, and pastors from both locations shared responsibilities at both locations. Leadership meetings were held together with the same structure, the same goals, and the same vision. Everything was identical, from Sunday morning church to the small group format.
Importantly and gratefully, Candlewood-Lincoln was financially supported by Candlewood-Omaha. Without the financial and spiritual generosity of the saints from Omaha, the church in Lincoln would not be running. The time the leadership team in Omaha traveled to Lincoln multiple times a week for years was instrumental in establishing the church.
Candlewood-Lincoln is seven years into the replant, and it is time to reflect on what God has done: Candlewood-Lincoln is financially supporting itself, thanks to nearly triple the number of members since seven years ago. We bought a church building that we are currently remodeling. We have twelve thriving community groups that meet weekly and are made up of people from many different cultures around the world, Nebraska, and the US. We have started multiple ministries that are successfully serving our surrounding community and church family. We have seen people get saved and baptized. People have become leaders. People are being discipled and growing in their relationship with the Lord. The Lord’s work is faithfully being done!
God has done amazing things in Lincoln unique to this congregation and our town. At the same time, Candlewood-Omaha has also expanded tremendously and developed uniquely. Even as they sent money and people to Lincoln, God grew their church and expanded their vision for the future.
So, now we ask what God has for His churches in Lincoln and Omaha?
After many conversations between both pastoral teams in Omaha and Lincoln, we believe it is time to become two separate churches, financially and legally. Each church has a unique leadership team and ministry focus. Each city is different, and our congregations have different cultural strengths and needs. This multiplication will allow the leadership teams of both churches to shepherd each location according to their specific needs. It will also enable each church to grow in ways that make the most sense for their context.
We are thrilled about what God has already done here in Lincoln and excited for what He has for us in the future. We are forever grateful for the sacrifice Candlewood-Omaha made to see the work continue here in Lincoln, Nebraska. We want to follow the example of these saints in building, sending, and giving to the work of the Lord. Though we will multiply into two churches, we look forward to continuing to partner with our brothers and sisters in Omaha, and we look forward to seeing God continue to grow both churches.