Feb 28

Dream Center Reflections: Pastor Matthew Barnett

Yesterday, I introduced you to a place that is dear to my heart, The LA Dream Center. If you missed my post about the Dream Center and Skid Row yesterday, please click here.

The Dream Center is a beacon of hope for homeless families, addicts, abused women and children, victims of human trafficking, teen runaways, and many others who are filled with brokenness. Matthew Barnett discovered the cause he was made for when he relinquished his dreams of success and began listening for God’s dream for his life instead. When he sensed God was calling him to serve the poor and powerless, he co-founded (with his father, Tommy Barnett) the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA.

I had the honor of going on a missions trip to the LA Dream Center with Lysa TerKeurst and the staff of Proverbs 31 Ministries in August, 2011. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. While there, I had the privilege to serve on Skid Row, Adopt a Block, sorting clothes for the homeless, and packing trucks full of food to be delivered throughout Los Angeles communities in need. I also had the life changing experience of witnessing the various programs throughout the Dream Center for those who reside there and in the community. Testimony after testimony credited God, Pastor Matthew, and the Dream Center for restoring their lives and giving them hope. This only scratches the surface of what all the Dream Center does.

Meeting Pastor Matthew was quite an experience. I’m not sure what I expected, but I knew he was a very important man. I guess I expected him to be in his office working, planning, meeting, researching, and probably just very busy. I’m sure he has his days where this may be the case, but I was extremely impressed by the fact that this man knew every name of every person at the Dream Center. Not only did he know their name, but he knew their story. He walked around and visited with the people. And he was so enthusiastic. You could tell that he was so excited for each person there. He loved them and they loved him too. It was pure and genuine. I have not seen anything like it before. He had a smile on his face, enthusiasm that was contagious, and a huge heart for all people and God.

There were no presentations set up for us to listen to testimonies or stories from the Dream Center. Instead, while serving or working in a certain area, Pastor Matthew would happen to walk in and just pull someone from the Discipleship program or another program aside and say, “Hey, Tom, tell these ladies your story. Tell them where you were one year ago.”  And Tom would tell us. This happened all week long. We heard from folks who had been there just a few weeks, to those who had been in the program a year and then decided to stay and give back. Lives given hope. Lives where people found a place to belong. Lives changed forever because one man believed in the poor and powerless and took a bold leap of faith in founding the Dream Center. And once these people feel like they belong somewhere, they begin to believe…in themselves and God.

Matthew Barnett did not just found the Dream Center. He is also the senior pastor of the historic Angelus Temple. The Dream Center’s ministries reach 30,000 people each week through its multiple church services and more than 200 need-centered ministries.

The Dream Center’s record of success has led to the launch of over 100 independent Dream Centers nationally, as well as internationally.

In Pastor Matthew’s NY Times best selling book, The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do In This World, you are shown how to recognize the unique gifts and opportunities God has placed in your life. When you discover and commit to your personal cause, you’ll find that God is right there beside you—ready and willing to partner with you in amazing ways. The cover of his book features real people from the Dream Center. I know this because I met many of them.

It is my privilege and honor to have Pastor Matthew Barnett as a part of our MTC Conference Call Series. If anyone knows about cravings, discipline, changing your life, and believing in dreams, it’s him. If you would still like to sign up for the calls you can do that here.  You will be sent links to listen to the first 2 calls that have already taken place plus the number and code to be a part of our next 2 calls (Matthew Barnett and Lysa TerKeurst).

Jennifer Davidson won the give away of Matthew Barnett’s book yesterday. I’m giving another one away today. Leave a comment on my blog today about the cause within you. Do you have a cause? Are you searching for one? Please share your thoughts.

Hope each of you have an amazing Tuesday and are enjoying our last week of study.




  1. I work for a large church in the Mission Dept, and yet, I am still searching for my cause. I love working with others, but I still unsure of which direction/path to follow. Prayers for discernment would be greatly appreciated!

  2. I always thought I knew without a doubt that giving kids a voice was my calling. Now being in another failed marriage I’m believing God has a wider range of voices for me. Please pray for my purpose to be made clear and led 100% by The Holy Spirit!!

  3. Teresa Zellner says:

    I knew Matthew Barnett when he was 4 years old & have followed him & his family ever since. I was led to the Lord by his father, Tommy, and served in his church for awhile before we moved away. It is my dream & goal to go on a missions trip to the Dream Center. I had been in Phoenix at the time it was first being started, and was able to see the beginning plans. I am so very pleased you are sharing this ministry with this group. It truly is a place where miracles happen every day. BTW, don’t chose my name for his book because I bought it as soon as it was on the market! I highly recommend it for everyone to read. Being “raised spiritually” by the Barnett family, my heart and soul is for the down-and-out. I am involved in a ministry to our local dancers at the strip clubs building relationships with them of love and trust to show them God loves them and values them highly, and He has a great plan for their life.

  4. Nancy Kroneberger says:

    I have read a little about Matthew Barnett’s book The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do In This World, and would love to read it. I find that I am in a stage of life where my kids are getting older and more independent, and I am trying to find more purpose in my daily existence. I work part-time for our family business. I volunteer at my kids’ (elementary and middle) schools, I volunteer at our church with the children’s ministry. I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly, and generally take care of myself– in addition to our home and family–home-cooked meals, laundry, cleaning, etc. But I sometimes long for more–more purpose, more meaning, more out of life, maybe putting more into life, just in different areas. I would love to glean this from Barnett’s book. Thanks. And thanks again for the Made to Crave study–it has changed my whole perspective on food, exercise, faith, and Scripture–forever! :-)

  5. I believe I am being called to do Christian marriage counseling

  6. Patti Bliss says:

    I’d love to win this book so I can share it with my church familky and maybe get something started here.

  7. The cause I have been called to is to find a way to stop bullying. I am writing a bullying resource and compiling stories from people of all ages who were bullied for all sorts of reasons. Many times these stories have left me in tears but I have also been amazed at how many people have been able to turn their sorrows into a way to help others.

  8. I never know what my cause in life will be with God. All I know is that God puts things in my husband and I path that we know is from him. Last year we took in a foster child, which came out nowhere this came…We kept him for a year. On valentine’s day this year ,he went to go live with his grandparents and Dad they have been trying for years to him cause god put us in this child life we were able to connect him with his dad and his dad parents. I would not imagine this would be in my life or even think that god would think we could do this but he did we had know attorney this was god work all the way. Now my husband and I are trying to start a business together I would keep the books and my husband would do the hard work he is a contractor, he can do everything. We have an empty nest right now except on every other weekend we get our daughter who is 11 (step-daughter) and when every the grandchildren come over and our older kids…We have been praying hard about this business we know it will not work if we don’t have god’s blessing in this, cause everything in a life now is all cause of god all the glory goes to our liven god and his son Jesus. Amen

  9. Kim Cokern says:

    Still searching for my cause… My heart breaks in so many areas, but I am not exactly 100% positive where He wants me. Please pray for a clear vision.

  10. I want somewhere to belong and to make a difference for Him. Little or big, I don’t care what it looks like, but I want to be serving Him in some way.

  11. Have been thru some difficult times and have seen God work in his grace and show favor. In my spirit, I have the feeling or urge that there is something more to do – to show the world that God loves them and has a plan for them if they choose to recieve Him as Father, Savior, Shepherd, Strong Tower, Shelter, Shield and all things. Gotten to understand His word more clearly, learning to stand and believe and receive what He has promised. Do the small things in the city, so believing that God will reveal that wonderful plan or idea.

  12. Tanya Seffens says:

    My cause I found was in 2005. I was broken, confused, and addicted to substances. I was on the verge of being kicked out of college when I decided to transfer to a local community college to get life on track. I thought removing myself from those around me would solve everything. It didn’t. I came home and continued the same destructive behaviors. It was in a basement surrounded by “friends” who were high on drugs that I realized I need to get out of this place. I decided to volunteer my time at a summer camp, and I volunteered with children infected/affected by the HIV virus. It was in the arms of a 12 year old that I found courage as I picked her up off the floor and embraced her with a hug. She had just been picked on for the last hour by the teenage boys, because of the medicines she took for her HIV she had very masculine features. I shared with her my story and that she taught me about Courage. She lived with a virus that she had no control over, and walked through each day with limited tears and a smile on her face. If she could do that why couldn’t I? I then began volunteering more with people who were HIV+, and gained my degree in Social Work. I now work full time with people who are infected/affected by the HIV Virus. I grew up wanting to be a Teacher of Theater. When God divinely appointed that little girl and I to meet and to talk I knew that my cause was to help others to increase their quality of life and self worth, but also to increase mine as well.
    I will admit every day is a struggle, but I know He is with me, and there is NOTHING that can stop me from doing his work.

  13. Amanda Haddix says:

    The cause within me is serving inmates that are in prison. My parents and I founded Halfway Home Ministries in July 2008. I was an inmate in the Ohio Reformatory for Women at the time, serving a five and a half year prison sentence for Identity Fraud. I was a backslidden Christian who had given the devil control of my life and I quickly learned in November 2007, approximately a week into my sentence, that I could not and did not want to go another day without serving and obeying the Lord. The miracle of the situation is that God moved and I was able to be released 30 months early. Praise God for intervening on my behalf. Around 15 ladies were saved during my 3 year term and I still continue to disciple them, correspond with them, and visit them on a weekly basis. I give God all the glory, honor, and praise for His mercy, grace, and love during the difficult times in my life. My husband waited three years for me and he now serves right beside me, ministering to the ladies that are incarcerated. My parents have such a heart for our ministry also and we have just witnessed so many things that God has done. I praise God for my freedom, redemption, and the MIRACLE I was given. Our God is an awesome GOD!

  14. I am still searching for my cause. I feel like there has to be something more to this life. Please pray for me as I try to figure out what it is. Thanks.

  15. My nephew is in jail currently on drug charges. I am sending him this book because he has been asking for help and I have sent him some other things already, including a Bible which he is reading. I think that this may be one more way the dream center can touch one more life. Please pray for Ethan, that he finds his way back to a positive place and can break this addiction that has brought him down so low right now, and pray for his parents Dave and Joan also, they need guidance to help Ethan find a new path in life when he is released in a year. Thank you Melissa for showing us the good that is happening in the world!

  16. I feel, deep inside, that I have a cause, but struggle with finding it. I look to my job, it’s not there. I look to my schooling (finishing up graduate school right now), it’s not there. I look to my children & step-children, it could be there, but I feel like there is so much more! I think my problem is that I’m too busy looking inward to find my cause and not seeing the potential of what my cause could be.

  17. Rebecca Allen says:

    I know God has a plan and purpose for my life. At 63 years old I am still searching. I feel led to minister to teenagers that into sex and drug abuse. Please pray if this is where God is leading, doors will open. There is a new ministry in Lexington, KY – Refuge for Women. They take in young women who have worked in strip clubs, porn movies, addicted to drugs, etc and teach them about God’s love, mercy and grace.

  18. I so want to find my cause. I hear about so many disadvantaged people and my heart breaks for them, but I never DO anything about it. Nothing! So, I want to become more courageous and bold to find my calling or cause.

  19. I looked after my dad for ten years as he was very sickly. Since his death I have been battling to find purpose to my life! I have started studying teaching as always loved children … but wonder if God is going to use me here in South Africa or in the mission field? I feel very alone in this world and I do get anxious about what my future holds! Don’t like being so alone!

  20. Omy I love this Church, I volunteered there one weekend and it was amazing! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Skid Row, it’s reputation is that you should never walk through that place it’s dangerous as for my opinion on the area, you don’t ever want to find yourself lost in that area. I’ve grown up in the Los Angeles Area all my life and I remember as a child passing through there in the car, and it was as depressing then as it is now. There are numerous makeshift tents, cardboard boxes serving as shelter. Lots of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk. Needless to say when I was dropped off right smack in the middle of skidrow I was filled with fear at first. I grew up in this Town I know exactly where I’m at!! It’s not like I’m some out of towner who doesn’t realize I’m in the middle of a very dangerous area. You know like when you visit another state and are unfamiliar with the boundaries of the city? After being dropped off we gathered in a prayer circle and my fear soon began to fade as I was filled with the Holy Spirit I began to reach out and talk to people, I had the privledge of praying with a Gentleman who was sleeping on the street. We offered to pray for him, and he was so grateful that I would even touch someone who I knew was dirty and not smelling so nice, his words not mine. He said let me stand in reverence to the Lord before you pray, it was one of the highlights of my Christian Life. His name of Robert and I will never forget him.

    I know that God is calling me to serve in this Area and my heart is being pulled in that direction and I have Ideas and dreams to help people suffering from drug addiction, alcohol etc. get back on their feet. There are so many sober living homes, however many of them are just pits that suck them back into their old habits. My dream is to support already functioning and running transitional housing centers or start new ones. There’s are many great Christian organizations out here doing wonderful things, Dream Center of Course is one of them, Door of Hope and many others that I can’t remember the exact names. So pray that I find the right path that leads to the right spot for me.

    I’m a huge fan of the Dream Center and am in awe of what God has done through Pastor Barnett, its nothing short of a miracle. He didn’t just sit around dreaming he has done it!

  21. I have been trying to find a purpose for my life for a long time. I feel as though I am wandering through life aimlessly especially since my grandmother died a few years ago. It was as though I woke up and realized I had not done anything with my life. I know I have not lived the life that I should be living for myself, my child and especially for God. I have been questioning God as to why he put us here. Why do we have to suffer? I still don’t have the answers but I know that is not for us to know for now and what I need to focus on for now is finding my purpose. I just don’t know how to do that. I don’t know where to begin. Maybe this book is what I need to get me started and God has led me there. He knows all! :)

  22. I was in awe seeing your post today. My friends with His Heart, His Hands Ministries just signed the papers this week to purchase a former drug rehab center which they plan on turning into the Lufkin (Texas) Dream Center. The recovery center was shuttered by lack of state funding in 2009. My friends were of course inspired by the work of Pastor Barnett and the LA Dream Center. My heart jumped again when I clicked on the link from my email to your blog, and at the top saw Jeremiah 29:11. This is the verse God has laid on my heart for this year, and has He ever been at work in my life and the lives of those around me! The ministry that I am involved with, The Most Excellent Way, hopes to partner with HHHH to build a detox unit and discipleship program in the Lufkin Dream Center. It is desperately needed here in rural Eastern Texas, as the methamphetamine problem here is massive. Satan is carrying our young people off by the hundreds with this drug.

    God has taken the past 4 years to show me more of what He’d have me do for Him. Restoring lives and meeting immediate needs of the hopeless and helpless in our area seems to be where He is leading me. I couldn’t be more excited, well, unless you picked my name to win the book! I’d love to hear what Pastor Barnett has to share, especially since I’m apparently headed down a similar road.

    Thank you for your blog and your dedication to the Lord!

  23. My cause and work in this life is being revealed to me as it seems that I do well working with those who are critically ill as well as the geriatric. I have recently been honored to be able to be at my grandfathers bedside when he took his last breathe here on this earth. I say honored because it was peaceful and I know that the last words he heard were I love you. I held his bodily hand while I know that Jesus was taking his spiritual hand and guiding him on to heaven. May peace be brought to those who have lost their loved ones in knowing that Jesus is there to bring them home.

  24. I am a member of a small Church in our community. Recently our Church Secretary (volunteer basis) became ill and she will be limited on the duties that she will be able to carry out for the Church now. I feel that God is leading me to assist her and to help with the duties she cannot do now. I work full time and help with my grandchildren, but I feel that God is leading me to use my knowledge somewhere besides work, where people only care about money…not about others and their walk with God!

  25. Terri Lyons says:

    I know my gifts and I know God moved us to where we are currently living (still don’t know why), but my deepest desire right now is to know what my cause is. I’ve prayed for the Lord to guide me and show me what He wants for my life and what He wants to do with my life. I really need to read a book like this and hopefully I can realize the cause that He has for me. “Lord open doors and lead me through to where you want me and close those doors that will not take me there.”

  26. I have been struggling for sometime now with what my gifts may be and how best to use them when I do find them. I see so many people around me using their gifts that God has given them and want in desperation to find my own so I can put them to work for the Lord. So often I hear the words “just pray” but I know deep down I should be doing more. I know God has given me gifts – but I feel like I am wandering around looking for them in the wrong places, wasting valuable time.

  27. Sarah Humes says:

    For the moment, I’m a “seasonal worker.” I’m reaching Moms and kids for Christ through MOPS. And I love that He is using me that way. However, I haven’t discovered yet what my full time calling will be? Maybe I will always be a seasonal worker, doing whatever God needs me to for the moment. And as long as He’s leading, I’ll follow! :)

  28. Jennifer Sider says:

    I am a special education teacher/church musician. I feel called to work with students who are so wounded they cannot face themselves, let alone learn. For the past 2 years I have worked as an emotional behavioral teacher at 81st and Halsted in Chicago. There is a gang on every corner there. I wanted to teach, but because of my crisis intervention abilities, I was often asked to work with the most severe students,again because of my CPI training. Often other staff would try to interevene but the situation quickly got out of hand, requiring myself or the social worker anyway. The the school had the gall to say that I was not teaching. How can I teach when I’m doing crisis intervention on almost evry student! We mutual parted ways last summer. I couldn’t keep going with their changing game plan and no help. I do know that I reached some of my students because they did graduate and now find me on facebook and have thanked me for not quitting on them! AMEN!

  29. I am so tossed regarding where God wants me to give my heart… I am about to travel abroad with my husband, long term. And I feel VERY strongly that worship is to be a part of my passion for Him… but I dont play yet well enough! Lol. He has really advanced me in my piano lessons so quickly which makes me see It’s GOD! It’s him and his miracles again! :) I also feel like he has given me art in these past couple of years as an expressive way to worship him and to get deep into my heart and into the hearts of others in ministry. I am really looking forward to how God will fine tune where he wants me to be… 😉

  30. I’ve been searching for my cause for years. Shouldn’t it be something “big” or “profound?” It just seems to be the simple tasks of being a Godly wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

  31. Pastor Barnett is doing a job that you have to have a calling from God for. Not everyone can be passionate and strong at the same time. That may not be everyone’s calling but I think we all should have a cause or tugging in our heart for God’s people. God wants to use each and everyone of us to reach the people whether their lost or homeless or live in mansions. If we don’t have a cause or ministry we need to seek God and ask Him for wisdom to guide us to where He wants us to be.

  32. I know God has a plan , a cause for us all I just have not found mine. I thought it might be working with children because I love to see there little faces light ou when they learn what Gods love truly means to them. I am not at the present working with them in church I do tutor them in reading at school. Please pray that God will let me know what my cause is. My dream is ministering to children and teenagers. thanks

  33. Still praying and searching for my cause. At this season of my life being a wife and mother is what I seemed called to do. Thanks for allowing have a brief glimpse of The Dream Center, as I wIll remember to pray for the broken and the lost. Blessings!

  34. Good food for thought…. I am a nurse practitioner and I work with patients with chronic pain. I am searching for a new direction to go in. I a fortunate to work with a world renowned physician, and he is an encourager…. Yet I am still looking for the “right” direction. Win or lose I need to get this book..thanks for putting this out there.

  35. I know that I search daily for my calling. I currently contact all the new women members in our church. I attend a fairly large church and sometimes that can seem overwhelming. I contact the women to let them know about opportunities that are available for them and just to get some one on one time with them. I’ve developed some great relationships and it’s certainly taken me out of my comfort zone.

  36. Wow! I am inspired and awestruck by this story. I keep searching, wondering what is my purpose? I want to reach out and help others, more than I do now. I know I don’t do enough. I have thought for a long time that the Lord did not hear me; or more to the point if the Lord was speaking, I could not hear Him. I have recently begun to feel the nudges and whispers. I learn daily that I have to “be still” and listen with an open heart to hear better. I am learning, but each day is a journey. Reading and hearing from others reaffirms there is a Loving God.

  37. I had a life changing injury in 10-06 and it has been a struggle every day. I thought I knew my Cause but do I or did I? Nothing I use to do is easy anymore due to my pain in my neck and L arm. I want more than words can express to find my cuase and to serve Jesus to the fullest. Thank you for the help your ministerys has given me blessings Shelly

  38. Recently a young man of 23 died from ecstasy laced with something in our small town. His mom is also an alcoholic and drug user. l have listened and watched others respond to this tragedy in such a negative way. They blame the role model, his mom for this and say it is no wonder as he learned from the best. I ran into his mom this week and stopped to talk to her and asked her how she was doing. As l spoke with her l could see the pain in her eyes and the realization that no matter her lifestyle she is a mother who has just lost her son and she deserves to be heard, loved and respected. This has challenged me to talk with others in our so called “skid row” here and be a listener. l am going to make this committment to my community. Hopefully l will be able to share about Jesus but more importantly at this time be a good listener.

  39. I have been feeling God’s call to stand up for righteousness, especially for Traditional Marriage and unborn children. I live in WA were same sex marriage was just passed. I will be helping gather signatures at my church and in my community to get a referendum placed on the ballot. I know that in the end things are going to get worse, but God wants us to stand for righteousness.Too many Christians have been bystanders for too long. I want to be an example to my children and be able to stand before His throne and hear him say “Well done”.

  40. My spiritually unequal marriage is my mission field. I seve as treasurer for my congregation. I do various crafts for charity…knit baby hats for the hospital, prayer shawls, sewn dolls for missions…

    I am trying to figure out how to use a work skill of writing computer based training for the Lord’s work. I also hope to find more ways to serve when I retire.

  41. I don’t know what my cause is. I am a stay-at-home mom with two little children and often I get so wrapped up in their lives that I forget to be other-focused. I know God wants more from me. I was made for more! I am praying and looking for answers.

  42. Hi. I love the Proverb 31 Devotions. Each one has strengthen and encourage my heart and spirit. My greatest concerns are my children and grandchildren. Praying that each and everyone will rise up and serve our Lord and Savior.That they will hunger and thrist to read His Word and pray and seek Him with all of their heart. This has been my prayer for the last 37 years and that He will heal their broken hearts. Bind up theirs wounds and set their captive heart FREE!…It has been very trying at times. Said and did things. Mostly out of fear and hurt and even pride. Please pray for me, my husband, our children and grandchildren. Have a blessed day. For our God and Father is faithful. And He who has begun the good work within us will complete it.

  43. I must have a cause, He has brought me through too many trials and kept me here for a reason. I could really use the book in helping me find my cause!

  44. There cause is to help at the point of need ,A daunting task when considering the amount of people that are helped,But when the cause is of God a way is made !!!

  45. Growing up, the one constant goal I had in life was to become a writer. My spiritual mother reminds me that He can do exceedingly above and beyond what we hope for or ask for (Ephesians 3:20). I never dreamed that God would put such a passion for teaching in my heart!

  46. Thank you for this post today, it is so important for us to know that we have a purpose. I am going to pray that my sisters in this study will find their calling and to pursue that calling with all their heart, soul, mind, and power. God has called me to be a teacher, that is what I was created to do, I do it by instinct in church out of church and everywhere that I go.

  47. Lisa Scott says:

    Such a wonderful story! We have started an outreach ministry in Southwest Va. and we are hoping to raise the funds to send 10 of our workers to the Atlanta Dream Center. We are so excited to get this ministry up and going, that we can hardly get through a training session without wanting to jump up and run out the door to get it started!
    Thanks for your article
    Its such a blessing
    Lisa Scott

  48. Linda Adesanya says:

    Spectacular story. My son visited the dream center 2 years ago and now has a dream to create a safe haven for victims of human trafficking/sex slave trade. He’s just 21 but has big dreams!

    As for me, the saving unborn is my passion. I would love to start homes for pregnant women who feel abortion is their only choice – give them the opportunity to find their dream while giving life to their child.

  49. I will have to read the post again, as I just seemed to skim over it. But as for my cause or calling, its to teach children about God. its so great to see a child learn about something new and get excited about what they are learning. As for made to crave, I am on Chapter 9 now and will be updating my blog soon. I may be behind but I am learning more about myself and Jesus as I continue reading. After this ,I am going to follow it with a confident heart by renee, I now have it on my kindle.

    My craving today was a mc chicken with fries. I prayed asking God for strength and a change in my attitude – I will be getting a grilled salad instead. Praise God!