(Photo: Courtesy Matthew Barnett)
Pastor Matthew Barnett, founder of The Dream Center, which has more than 200 Independent Dream Centers across the country, has written a new book entitled "God's Dream for You: Finding Lasting Change in Jesus." In it, Barnett repeatedly drives home the point that God does, in fact, have a dream for each and every person in the world.
Why do you think that people need to be reminded that God has a dream and a purpose for them? Does society too often try to take away that dream and tell us not to go after our own dreams?
Some people fail in their pursuit of their dreams, and in that, they give God the broken pieces and find that God is able to put them back together in ways unimaginable. My personal dream had to die, and I learned what it was by taking a walk around Los Angeles City, and that was the night that God spoke to me and told me to build the dreams of others and by doing so, my dream would be revealed.
I come from a third-generation mega-church and thought I would simply show up and that would be it. But once I took a walk around the city and learned what I was truly supposed to be doing, God made things happen and I learned how to serve others. When people feel that their dreams die, they shut down. But those are often building blocks for new dreams.
Some people are one inconvenient act away from changing their lives and just living the dream they're supposed to. That produces transformation in ways that one would never expect. One couple in the church bought a hot dog cart on eBay and now serve over 600 people just one day per week.
The world we live in today tells us that taking a risk or a leap of faith is declared irresponsible. Sometimes we have to do some things that are radical in order to do what is right. In the book, we encourage people to look for the little things that will keep you in the dream at a time when it hasn't unfolded yet. The consistency and longevity of staying in the dream until it unfolds is the greatest testimony. There are some things in life that can only be built by staying consistent and in the dream. The book encourages people to have a dream and move, not to quit along the way but to stay encouraged.
The dream begins as soon as you become available to God. In our world today, in our success-driven culture, the dream is often the destination rather than the path along the way. The pursuit and the little success along the way are the key part.
What's one message you would give someone who is having a hard time or is in a situation where s/he doesn't believe in himself/herself?
The circumstances of life will change – when a dream is being pulled back or being changed - that can be the launching of a new dream and agenda. It's the power of reverse momentum, and so recognizing that pulling back moments are not defeats but learning moments. They will help us be more effective when we start searching again. The most valuable things are often in the process of being pulled back, being held back. The very things that made him are the very things that broke him.
What would you say, in general, is God's dream for us? And how do we learn what that dream is?
The dream that God has for us is found in a vision to use the influence and power he's given you to make a difference in people's lives. Unless there is a "so that" attached to our vision, then there is no purpose. We have millionaires out here who dedicate themselves to one project, who give themselves to making other people's lives better. We are truly the happiest not when I'm leading thousands of people every week but when I spend that one-on-one time with someone who needs it. I want readers to think about the "one" person they could help and influence… someone they can take on the journey of life and make him/her better. I want people to realize that the dream that God has for your life, to always take someone with you. Jesus took the disciples along with him when he lived out God's dream and plan for his life. We must bring people along with us.
If all of us in the church took in someone who needed a home, we could eradicate homelessness. One goal of this book, too, is to help readers see that Sunday morning service is not a destination place but a launching place for the rest of the week. The book is about encouraging people, not shaming them, but to show the benefits of living the life of sacrifice and giving… having a mentality that we "get" to do things rather than "have" to do something.