the shape of leadership

Big Dreams From the Dream Center

Changing lives across America

Chris Colvin on May 22, 2019

Tommy Barnett had a dream. As a young man traveling the country preaching revivals, he often sensed God telling him he would one day start churches in many of the cities he visited.

After years of leading the same church in Phoenix, Barnett wondered how that would ever happen. Nevertheless, the dream began to take shape in two major ways. First, Barnett started the Pastors and Leaders School (now the Dream Conference), which has since trained thousands of ministers to plant churches in those same cities.

Second, Barnett founded the Dream Center. That network now includes more than 200 churches in some of America’s hardest-to-reach places. The origins of the Dream Center were not about growth but about a cause.

“Our church needed a cause, something bigger than us,” Barnett says. “And we asked, ‘What’s the biggest challenge we can find?’ The answer was the inner-city, specifically in Los Angeles.”
“Our mission is simple: Find a way to serve the people nobody wants.”
— Tommy Barnett

The outreach team ministered to people on the streets, but making disciples was difficult in an environment of drug pushers, sex trafficking and gangs. So, they sought out housing for those needing refuge. Once those houses were full, they found a larger place, the former Queen of Angels Hospital, 15 stories high with 1,400 rooms. That building became the first official Dream Center.

Getting drug users and prostitutes off the streets is just the first step. The Dream Center offers discipleship and ministry, drug rehabilitation and GED classes. Most of all, people are encountering the hope of Jesus.

“We’re the go-to center for many of the law enforcement agencies and the court system,” Barnett says. “Our mission is simple, pretty much what has driven me throughout my ministry: Find a way to serve the people nobody wants.”

Over the years, volunteers have flocked to the Dream Center from churches all over the country to assist, intern and see the ministry in action. Many have returned home with renewed passion and a God-given dream for reaching their own communities.

“When you empower people, they will do amazing things,” Barnett says. “So, go for your dream!”

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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