Logical guesses for what is boosting the mega numbers might be Beauchamp’s affable but challenging preaching, or the church’s dynamic worship services, or its small groups and edgy youth programs. But those aren’t the secret to growth, says Beauchamp.
“The unsung key to church growth is unity and health,” says the senior pastor. “Because Jesus said, ‘I will build my church,’ our role is to fulfill his prayer, to love him and each other. Healthy things grow. Healthy things multiply.”
Unity is especially crucial, says Beauchamp. He knows the topic first-hand. Not so long ago he experienced the opposite of unity, with devastating consequences.
“We are a church who experienced a terrible church split from 2007 to 2009, when we lost 1,800 of our 3,000 adult attendees and over $2 million in income,” Beauchamp says. The congregation, well known at that time throughout the Omaha region as Trinity Church Interdenominational, “bottomed out” for four years after the split.
During that painful time, Beauchamp and his remaining staff and elders hung on, clinging to their faith in a crucible of purifying obedience and working hard to forge a unified vision. During this time, the church rebranded itself as Lifegate.
“The result? We focused on being a devoted, forgiving, and emotionally and spiritually healthy people without pat answers but with a commitment to live transparent lives,” Beauchamp says. After a period of healing and fine-tuning its DNA, Lifegate began to grow again.
The church’s motto is “doing life together.” Lifegate’s leaders and members invite nonbelievers and skeptics to come ask questions. “We want you to belong before you believe,” Beauchamp says. “We tell people when they visit that they come pre-loved but not pre-judged.”
That freedom and open embrace was the ground on which Luis Fortun slowly built a spiritual life. The software sales executive, who abandoned his Roman Catholic upbringing long ago, began visiting the church with his wife during the 1990s. But it wasn’t until 2005 that everything clicked and he surrendered his life to Christ.
“The culture of Lifegate is to be real,” says Fortun, who now serves as a church elder. “We present the truth but in a loving way, not a judgmental way.”
The church, which also runs a kindergarten through 8th grade school, now worships in three locations: in the west edge of Omaha, a suburb; in Papillion, a township near Offut Air Force Base; and Midtown, close to the University of Nebraska Omaha. There are plans to have a total of 40 campuses established in the next generation (known as the “40 in 40” plan).
“Our campuses are our commitment to not only take the church to where people live but live with people where they live,” Beauchamp says.
Lifegate participates in Within-Reach.net, an association of churches committed to helping each other evangelize to the people of Omaha. One of the group’s goals is to see 50 new churches or new sites planted in the region between 2016 and 2018. Another is to double the number of existing churches in the next 20 years.
“I hope our deep wounds, coupled with God’s faithfulness, will encourage many,” Beauchamp says. “We at Lifegate believe we are called to be living ‘life gates’ through which Jesus’ love and life flow freely from us to everyone we meet, everywhere he leads us.”
Senior Pastor: Les Beauchamp
Twitter: @BeauchampLes, @LifegateOmaha
A 2016 OUTREACH 100 CHURCH
Growth in 2015: +611 (24%)