the shape of leadership

Hearts Going in the Same Direction

A Q&A with Matthew Barnett

Chris Colvin on May 22, 2019

Matthew Barnett is co-founder and director of the LA Dream Center and senior pastor of Angelus Temple in Los Angeles.

INFLUENCE: In 2001, the LA Dream Center started to expand into a network. When did you sense it was time to spread what was happening in Los Angeles to other parts of the country?
In light of the growth of short-term missions work, where young people were coming from all over the country into LA to serve, we started seeing a passion become like wildfire. After their experience here, people wanted to go back and do it in their cities. We knew that, one way or another, they were going to do it because it was so tangible and so simple.

Churches started to realize that impacting your community doesn’t require a big facility. It takes a condition of the heart, Jesus touching you to celebrate what He’s given you and using it to serve.

Why do you think it spread so quickly?
We’ve always believed, and this comes from my dad’s heart for ministry, it’s important to give and serve more than you get in return. When pastors come here, they see that in action.

“We’ve always believed it’s important to give and serve more than you get in return.”
— Matthew Barnett

For instance, our food program reaches out to the 16 percent of Los Angeles County who never know where their next meal will come from. We are able to distribute over half a million pounds of food every month.

We also serve through adopt-a-block programs, clothing outreach and even foster care initiatives. The Dream Center even offers a fitness program to the community, just another way to reach our neighborhood. 

How did you build partnerships with other churches?
It was important for us to identify those churches who had the same heart as us. They don’t have to be the biggest churches in the world, and they don’t have to have the biggest budgets. They just need a heart that is going in the same direction as ours.

What do you tell churches who are interested in starting a Dream Center?
The launching aspect is challenging. It takes resources and money. There are amazing churches with those resources who want the Dream Center expression to be a component of the outreach they already do. We can provide a model that proves it can be done.

For churches who are getting off the ground in those areas, we can show them how to do it.

For more information, visit

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

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