Welcome to Candlewood! Candlewood Church is a non-denominational, Bible-based, Christian church. Our church is not a building, but people committed to one another, united in the belief that God has given us a new life and a new future through our shared relationship with Jesus Christ. We are a spiritual family pursuing deep, meaningful relationships through the love God has for everyone. Whether you are here for the first time or the hundredth time, we are glad you could join us today!
Just as a church is people not a building, the Christian life is more than just a Sunday Service - it is the life we live every day, at home, at work and in our community. Our services and ministries are designed to help us be successful in God's eyes in our everyday lives. We believe God has the best solutions to the challenges we face and the problems we wrestle with. God's love and power are real, and at work in us whenever we reach out to Him. And we believe that loving and following God with all our hearts is the key to experiencing the very best life possible. We hope your experiences at Candlewood move you to walk with God through whatever adventures are in store for you this week!
To communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ by
* faithfully loving God and others
* building strong balanced families
* providing a place where individuals can realize their full potential
* genuinely caring for the needs of our community
The sole basis of our beliefs is the Bible, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. It was uniquely, verbally, and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and was written without error in the original manuscript. It is the supreme and final authority in faith and life in every age.
There is but one God, infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love, Creator of the universe, eternally existing in three persons-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-each of whom possesses all the attributes of Deity and the characteristics of personality.
God created man in His own image, and man as he was originally created, was innocent before God. But man chose to sin by disobeying God, and therefore was alienated from his Creator and came under divine condemnation. Thus all human beings are born with a corrupted nature and without spiritual life, and are totally incapable of pleasing God in and of themselves.
God the Father, by His own choice and out of love for sinful men and women, sent Jesus Christ into the world to reconcile sinners to Himself. Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. He was God in the flesh, both true God and true man. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and voluntarily suffered and died as our substitute to pay the penalty for our sins, thus satisfying God's justice and accomplishing salvation for all those who trust in Him alone. He rose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He lived and died. He bodily ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father, where He, the only mediator between God and man, makes intercession for His own. He will return to earth personally, visibly, and bodily to judge all men and establish His kingdom.
Men and women are freed from the penalty for their sins not as a result, in whole or in part, of their own works, goodness, or religious ceremony, but by the undeserved favor of God alone. God declares righteous all who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation.
-The Holy Spirit-
The Holy Spirit has come into the world to reveal and glorify Christ, to convict men and women of their sins, and to impart new life to all who place their faith in Christ. He indwells believers from the moment of spiritual birth, seals them until the day of redemption, and empowers them to live a life pleasing to God.
All who are born again of the Spirit can be fully assured of their eternal life from the very moment they put their faith in Christ. This assurance is not based on any kind of human merit, but upon the fact of God's election, upon Christ's complete payment for our sins, and upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whom is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.
-The Resurrection of the Dead-
At physical death, the believer enters immediately into eternal, conscious fellowship with the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his or her body to everlasting glory, and blessing. At physical death, the unbeliever enters into eternal, conscious separation from the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his or her body to everlasting suffering, judgment, and condemnation.
-Baptism and the Lord's Supper-
Jesus Christ has instructed those who believe in Him to be baptized in water as a symbol of their new birth in Christ. Baptism is only for those who have personally believed in Christ. Our practice is to baptize by immersion. The Lord also instituted the Lord's Supper as a remembrance of His suffering, death, and resurrection. Neither baptism nor the Lord's Supper has any merit in helping a person obtain eternal life.
All true believers make up the church worldwide and should assemble together in local churches for worship, prayer, fellowship, and teaching, in order to become conformed to the image of Christ and to become equipped to carry out the ‘Great Commission' that Christ gave His followers in Matthew 28:19-20.
History - Omaha
The Osborns and Whitneys moved to Omaha in the fall of 1995 with the prayer, faith, and hope of establishing a Great Commission church that would eventually become known as Candlewood Church. Initially, the two families met in their homes for worship until that August of 1996 when they started meeting in the cafeteria of Elkhorn Middle School. They were joined by two more families in 1996 and the small church launched the "Phones for You Campaign" in the spring of 1997 and made a strong push for that Easter.
In the fall of 1997, the church moved to Prairie Wind Elementary School in Omaha where it meets today on Sunday mornings. This also marks the beginnings of the youth group and the life groups that remain a significant part of the church today.
The Rock originated in 2003 with a few students in the church. They started meeting at UNO's student center where they read over the book of Acts and prayed together for God to make an impact on the campus. The Rock officially became an organization on campus in 2008. Before this, The Rock had just been a small group of individuals. The Rock now meets weekly as a student organization.
When thirty one people launched Candlewood's new church in the fall of 2006, it started meeting at Millard West High School. Later, the church switched their meeting location to the Westside Community Conference Center and changed the meeting time to Saturday night.
As God has continued to lead the Candlewood Church family, He has revealed to us that our next strategic move in reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to send a team to Lincoln, Nebraska, and serve alongside one of our associate churches, Harvest Community Church.
We, as Candlewood Church (one church, many locations), pray that we will obey the Great Commission and the Great Commandment:
Matthew 28:19-20 - "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 22:36-40 - "Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?"
Jesus replied, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."
Thank you for taking the time to read about our history. If you want the adventure of a lifetime, join us as we "Change the world, one person at a time, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
History - Lincoln
In the summer of 1983, a group of men and women moved from a Great Commission Church at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas to plant a church and establish a student fellowship, Harvest Community Church, at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. They began to reach out with the gospel in their classes, dormitories, and in their work places. The fellowship began to see many accept Christ as their Savior and add to the number of believers attending Harvest.
In July of 1988, a group of believers moved from the Great Commission Church in Ames, Iowa to labor alongside Harvest. The church grew steadily as this band of volunteers labored for Christ.
In the summer of 1991, Harvest was able to afford a full-time pastor again. Jay Yousling was recognized as a pastor from a GC church in Denver. He and his wife moved to Lincoln to join Harvest. The fall of 1994 was another milestone for Harvest when Jim Wiebelhaus was recognized as their second full-time pastor. In 2000, Jay Yousling moved back to Denver to help pastor another GC church.
In 2001, members from Ames church moved to Lincoln to start the Rock church on the UNL campus. Others joined them from Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Omaha.
In August of 2002, Harvest recognized Ben Lennander as an elder.
From the late 1980's to the present, Harvest has had a strong ministry to International students. In 1994/95, some UNL Malaysian students helped with a new church plant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Harvest takes a team to Asia each year to not only partner with indigenous churches but to lay the ground work for new church plants.
In November 2012, God lead Harvest to merge with Candlewood Church, a GC church in Omaha. Harvest Community Church is now called Candlewood Church, with a vision to be one church in many locations.
1. Is Candlewood connected with any other Churches and what do you believe?
Candlewood is associated with a group of churches called "Great Commission Churches" (GCC).
Great Commission Churches is a U.S. based fellowship of independent churches designed to equip, unite and provide accountability to churches and ministries that have a desire to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. Our heart is that churches will model "New Testament Christianity in Action Today."
2. What do you believe and what is your Statement of Faith?
Our belief's can be found in the Statement of Faith section.
3. How are we organized?
Great Commission Churches (GCC) functions as an interdependent family of churches where each church is autonomous and self-governed by its pastors, but united in mission, doctrine, and core values.
4. What are GCC's roots?
GCC began in the early 1970's as a campus church movement and has since developed into an association of churches based in the community and campuses in the U.S. and throughout the world. In 1989, Great Commission Ministries (GCM) was formed to continue the campus emphasis through a staff-based support system.
5. What are your views on controversial topics such as charismatic issues?
In general our focus is on the basic gospel of Jesus Christ, the fulfilling of the Great Commission and uniting with followers of Jesus Christ to worship and serve Him. In light of this, there is a great degree of flexibility on historically controversial issues that fall within the bounds of orthodox doctrine. In this way, we as an association of churches and believers in Jesus Christ can go about doing the Lord's will in the world while at the same time working through difficult issues. Having said this, the churches in GCC are generally non-charismatic in their beliefs and practices.
6. What services does GCC provide for churches?
GCC and other GCC ministries host several conferences for pastors, couples, families, teens, and college students on a regular basis. Regional leaders provide coaching and support to pastors and churches, both to new church plants and to established churches. GCC also has a leadership development program called Great Commission leadership Institute (GCLI) that includes pastoral mentoring, local mentor groups, and extensive doctrinal study, and regional conferences. GCC also provides funding for mission efforts in the U.S. and overseas, as well as relief for churches in need. Our devotional, Faithwalkers also published quarterly for the encouragement of the churches.
7. Where are GCC member churches and ministries?
There is a listing of our locations on this site, most of which are located near major universities or metropolitan areas throughout the world.
8. Any special ministry focus?
Generally, our priority has been on reaching the youth. Historically, GCC began as a movement on college campuses in order to reach the next generation. GCM, GCC's international mission organization, provides support for all U.S. campus ministry efforts. GCM directs all U.S. campus ministry efforts. As we've grown as a movement of churches, we've planted more and more churches in U.S. communities to the point that today most of GCC's members are in community churches. As part of this community ministry a major focus has been on high schools. Finally, because of our emphasis on reaching the whole world with the gospel, we are increasingly putting more emphasis on international ministry through GCM, which also coordinates all overseas ministry.
9. What are your values?
As an association of churches, we have always cherished the Great Commission and it remains our focus today. From that common mandate, our other core values have developed, including a strong emphasis on the grace of God, reaching youth, church-based leadership development, strong families, and a devotion to God and His Word. See our Core Values (link) for a more complete listing and explanation of the values that shape our association.
How is Candlewood financially supported?
Candlewood Community Church is supported by the gifts of those who consider this their church. But you will not see a collection plate passed during our services. Contributions are received in the blue offering box located on the Information Table. We believe God calls all who know Him to honor Him through financial giving (Proverbs 3:9-10), and that He is pleased when His followers do so cheerfully and not under compulsion (II Corinthians 9:7). God will continue to bless our church, its work, and our lives individually as we honor Him with what He has given us.
If you are interested in financial details, please contact the church office.
Our Financial Practices and Policies
* We truly desire that money given to the church be done so freely, cheerfully, and out of genuine appreciation to God.
* All members will be encouraged to give of their income both regularly and proportionately. Tithing is encouraged as a biblical principle giving us guidance as to what the proportion of our giving should be. Some members will excel in generosity and ability to give beyond their tithe.
* As a general rule, we will not use the services to share financial needs or request funds. We will annually teach on giving, conduct a fund drive for local church needs or needs in the community, and conduct an international fund drive for missions.
* We will do our best to help with genuine financial needs within the church. Notify one of the pastors of your need or another's need. Where there is repeated financial need, financial accountability and counseling may be required.
* The tithes and offerings collected for each service are counted directly after that service by at least two designated men. The ministries and vision we have as a church are supported by the tithes and offerings of our members.
* All expenses have receipts.
* Candlewood Community Church never has, nor plans to spend more than we have. All church plans, projects, and monthly routine expenses are contingent upon available funds.
* All financial decisions are made by the local pastors and the church treasurer, working together. Advice is also obtained from other members of our church in the different areas of church ministry.
* We closely maintain in our account, a minimum savings pad representing two month's church expenses. We are working toward a savings pad representing six months of expenses.
* All financial records are maintained by the church treasurer. We keep a complete record of all disbursements and expenses.
Candlewood Church is a member of Great Commission Churches (GCC), united with other like-minded churches in GCC for advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Great Commission Churches is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
At eight years old, Ben understood his need for a savior. He woke his parents one night and prayed with them to accept Jesus into his life. Ben was recognized as a pastor in August 2002, a year after he moved to Lincoln with a small team from Ames, IA to help the church. In 2003, Ben married Melissa. They met at a leadership training in South Carolina in 1996, forming a friendship of six years before they started dating. They have four children – three girls and a boy. Ben also leads the small group ministry at Candlewood.
Gary became a believer of Jesus Christ on a ride from Chicago to Iowa in 1971 while he was hitchhiking from the East Coast. In 1979, Gary was recognized as a pastor in Ames, Iowa. It was in Ames where Gary met his wife, Patty. They were married in September 1981. Gary and Patty have seven wonderful children and two grandchildren. Gary served as a pastor in New Jersey and Florida before moving to Omaha, NE to help start Candlewood with Rory and Kathryn Whitney in 1995. Gary also leads the Youth Group Ministry and the Candlewood Working Singles.
As a freshman in college at the age of eighteen, Jim cried out to God to come into his life after two near-death experiences. He decided to give his life fully to God. A year later, Jim met Diane at a small conference in Kansas City. They were married in 1989. They have been blessed with six children – three boys and three girls. Jim was recognized as a pastor in September of 1994. Jim also leads the Missions and International Student Ministries at Candlewood.
Mike became a believer of Jesus Christ in August 1994. He came to Candlewood as a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) in 2003. In April of 2013, Mike was recognized as a pastor. He is also the Campus Director for The Rock - the church’s college ministry - and leads the Media Team. It was at Candlewood where Mike met his wife, Annie. They were married in 2008. Mike and Annie have been blessed with two sons and a third baby boy due in June of 2014.
At the age of twenty-nine, Rory came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior. He and his wife Kathryn were married on Jan. 8, 1977 and have had the privilege of raising seven children. Rory and his family, along with Gary Osborn and his family, moved to the Omaha area on November 1, 1995 with the prayer and dream that God would establish a church that would be part of "seeing the whole world changed, one person at a time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
As a church we have a set of verses that we are working through to memorize. We have a new verse each week. We've created a program to assist you with learning them all.
* Windows only
Life Groups are composed of likeminded people who are working at deepening their personal faith with God.
Candlewood has around 25 different Life Groups. We know you will find one to call your home.
Check out the links below for information on Short Term Missions for 2014.
Candlewood lifegroups are a key component for any member to get involved in the heart of the church at a personal, deeper level. Lifegroups are made up of individuals in the same stage of life and range from college students, singles, and community.
Lifegroups meet as a whole group as often as once a week to twice a month. Lifegroup meetings are not limited to, but consist of, sharing verses, reading through the Bible, participating in accountability groups, and helping other members of the church or community with service projects.
Many members involved in Lifegroups find a common bond and trust while in the same lifegroup, and often times, build deep, personal, and long lasting friendships. These friendships are built on the passion of pursuing and growing in their individual relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ and sharing the Gospel with others.
Candlewood's Youth Group, led by parents, is for the 6th through 12th graders of Candlewood. Its purpose is to equip our youth to become strong Christ-like followers, with each one having a vibrant relationship with Christ, and active in sharing their faith. Jesus Christ wants to multiply workers for His harvest, and teenagers are one group that can be especially receptive to the gospel. For this reason, multiplying workers to affect teens for Christ is strategic for the fulfillment of the Great Commission, commanded to believers in Matthew 28:18-20.
During the school year, the Youth Group meets several times a month, rotating between their parent's homes. Youth Group meetings consists of members sharing thoughts from their individual quiet times, and prayer requests. The whole group will go through a Bible Study on specific topics, books in the Bible, or issues relevant at hand.
The Youth Group also attends youth conferences a few times a year; one conference in the spring and the other in the summer, Parent Teen Leadership Conference (PTLC).
The Rock is a group of students who want their time in college to count for more than a degree. These students are focused on learning to walk with God in a faith that is based on their own personal relationship with Him. The Rock meets weekly on the
University of Nebraska at Omaha and Lincoln campus' for energetic worship, relevant teachings, and lasting relationships. The Rock also has bible studies, lifegroup meetings, and times to have fun and fellowship throughout the week.
The Rock's main vision for their members is to saturate their local campus with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Students involved in the Rock try to achieve this by living out the person Jesus describes in Matthew 7:24, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock."
Visit the website
The Candlewood Working Singles, the CWS, is a group of men and women in the stage of life between college and marriage who are trying to live wholly devoted lives to the Lord.
The CWS' mission is to reach those who also are in this same stage of life by stepping out in faith and showing a difference in lifestyle and choices. The CWS desire is to show their loyalty to Christ by serving, supporting, and committing to their local church and leaders by equipping men and women to stand apart.
The Community Lifegroups of Candlewood are for those individuals who are married, parents, or retired. They focus on the man and woman's relationship as a married couple, parent's roles of raising and training their children, and the basics of keeping the fire for Jesus Christ alive and a part of their everyday lives.
With the bond of having other couples, parents, or individuals all in the same stage of life, Community Lifegroups are able to have discussion, accountability, times of sharing, and prayer for each other.
Community Lifegroups also have a heart for reaching out to other families, parents, and individuals who are in need of a loving church home and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Candlewood's Staff Ministry focuses on raising more individuals with a heart for discipleship and outreach, specifically with the purpose to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Omaha and Lincoln. Its mission is based out of Matthew 9:38 - "So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields."
Individuals on staff commit a substantial amount of their time to support Candlewood ministries. Staff members are given various responsibilities in Candlewood's effort to glorify God, serve the community, and encourage believers within the church.
Candlewood Mission's Ministry sends short-term mission teams to national and international locations to support and
encourage churches in the Great Commission. Candlewood has sent teams to Europe, Latin America, Asia and affiliated churches in the U.S. Our hope is that our church is aware for the global need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The short-term mission teams work alongside an established or new church for a greater purpose: to reach the local city with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by participating in service opportunities and outreaching. These mission trips also build long-term relationships between the churches.
The Missions Ministry also financially and prayerfully supports those missionaries that we sponsor.
Summer Evangelism Training (SET) offers Candlewood members the opportunity to learn different strategies for sharing their faith with confidence.
Using training videos and various teaching tools as an effective method for outreach, Candlewood members are encouraged to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members, and even strangers. Training not only gives individuals a fresh look at the Gospel, but it also highlights the importance of the eternal impact of the Gospel.
SET is held every Wednesday in June and July each summer for eight weeks. Members gather to sing, share and discuss the lesson of the week, and pray with lifegroup members.
Summer Leadership Training (SLT) is an eight week program, starting the beginning of June through the end of July, where members of The Rock have a set aside time where they can concentrate on their personal relationship with God. The vision of members of the Rock participating in SLT is to have a deeper maturity and faith, and that their love for God and others would grow.
Every year SLT is focused on specific godly character qualities members of the Rock are seeking to grow in. The participants fill multiple evenings a week with teachings from pastors and deacons within the church, prayer meetings, service projects throughout the Omaha community, and attend weekly evangelism training meetings.
Mom's Time is a monthly meeting aimed to encourage mothers to train and raise their children according to what God calls them to, primarily looking to the Bible for instruction. The mothers of Candlewood are eager to mutually build each other up and encourage one another.
Candlewood mom's enjoy a time of deep fellowship, mutual experience, discussion, counsel, and a time of prayer for themselves and their children. The women of Mom's Time are committed to raising obedient, God-fearing children.
Women Connecting with Women is a monthly meeting where the all the women of Candlewood; all ages, and stages of life, gather together for fellowship, praise and worship, a shared meal, and instruction and encouragement from the Bible.
WCWW is also a time where we can be united in our like-minded mission of being a part of the Candlewood family. With having a time separate from the rest of the Candlewood Church family, the women are able to be open and transparent as women. The mission of Women Connecting with Women is to provide a place where women can come and experience a family like atmosphere. The time also aims to remind women of their God given purpose and to encourage one another to continue on the course and to live Christ centered lives. Women Connecting with Women is a time to inspire and influence women to understand the Biblical truth of being a godly woman.
Men in Training, known by its acronym, M.I.T., is a monthly meeting where all the men of Candlewood come together with the purpose of providing an environment where God is restoring the role of a godly man and refining the character of a godly man, as well as raising up an army of godly men.
All the men of Candlewood, young and old, are invited to come together to learn the significance of being the men God calls them to be - protectors, providers, and spiritual leaders of their household. They also sing, encourage each other, and share a meal.
Candlewood is asking God to enhance our ISM and use us in greater ways in the strategic mission fields at UNO and UNL, since these two campuses have nearly 5,000 international students from over 130 countries. Students and non-students in partnership, play an important role in ISM through being a friend, a host family, an English conversation partner, hosting events in your home, a mentor, an information resource person, etc.
Candlewood makes a commitment to attend various conferences sponsored by Great Commission Churches throughout the year. Conferences are designed to teach and encourage Christians to become faithful servants of Jesus Christ.
GCLI is a Friday evening through Saturday afternoon mini-conference where churches from the Great Commission Plains Region unite. Its purpose is to equip young men and women to be leaders in our church, to connect with other churches in Great Commission, and to reinforce the Core Values of our church movement. GCLI occurs twice a year, typically in March and in November.
At the Great Commission Leadership Institute, we believe:
1. Our mission in the church rises and falls on leadership. We are committed to seeing more leaders raised up for the Lord's kingdom.
2. Leadership can be learned. All leaders in God's church are people who have learned how to have a strong faith in God.
3. Leadership is best learned in the local church by combining "on the job training" in local church ministry with structured coursework.
Faithwalkers is an annual conference sponsored by Great Commission Churches (GCC) and ministries. Each December, GCC churches come together in various locations throughout the nation to learn from pastors who have been devoted to Jesus Christ and the Great Commission.
Through its mission to provide a rallying conference for everyone, Faithwalkers inspires Christians to live passionate lives for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the Great Commission. More importantly, individuals learn to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Visit the website
Niah was raised in a loving Christian home. At the age of 13, he decided to fully trust and love Jesus Christ. In the fall of 2008, Niah came to The Rock, the church's college ministry at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), and to Candlewood a week later. After graduating from UNO in 2012, Niah continued to help with the work on campus for The Rock, joining Candlewood's Staff. Niah met his wife, Josie, at The Rock. They came to know each other as members of the worship band. They were married on June 1, 2013. As a staff member, Niah meets students on campus, sharing the saving faith and grace of Jesus Christ.
As a college student, Xavier placed his faith on Jesus Christ, allowing Him to be in charge of his life on September 4, 2007. Xavier came to Candlewood and The Rock, the church's college ministry at UNO, that same fall. In the fall of 2013, Xavier returned to UNO as a graduate student and joined Candlewood's Staff to help support The Rock. Xavier met his wife, Jessica, on campus when she checked him into the dorms. He soon became impressed by Jessica's character, values, lifestyle, and direction of her life though her involvement with the church and The Rock. Xavier and Jessica were married in 2012. They eagerly await the birth of their firstborn due May 2014. As a staff member, Xavier spends time on campus meeting and befriending students, joining God in the work of bringing people closer to Him.