I just got back from being in Los Angeles speaking at the Dream Center and then a couple days in San Diego. I had a couple of cool things happen in San Diego – I had an interview with Alan Nelson who is the Executive Editor of REV! Magazine on leadership development. Warren Bird told him that Community Christian Church does a better job of developing leaders than any church in the country. Not sure we are that good…but thanks for the kudos Warren! And then I got to spend some time with Paul Engle of Zondervan talking about marketing our upcoming book, The BIG IDEA and the possibility of other books in the next year. I really want our writing to contribute to our dream of catalyzing a movement of reproducing churches. If not, I shouldn’t do it!
But the highlight of the last three days in southern California was having dinner at Wolfgang Pucks with Tommy Barnett. Matthew Barnett and Aaron Jayne who were also there are awesome; but there is just something special about hanging out with a guy who pastors one of the largest churches in the country; has been a pastor for over 50 years and still gets it! Yes, there are a lot of things about him that are “old school”. He still believes in bus ministry and makes it work. He is still in love with big buildings. But this guy is so encouraging, so postive and so in love with the church that you can’t help but love him! So, here are a couple topics that we discussed at dinner:
THE POWER OF THE DREAM.
At the age of 69, Tommy has been in the ministry for over 50 years. Since he is also one of three men (now two since Dobson opted out) who agreed to work in the restoration of Ted Haggard I asked him what he thought was the key to keep from making those kinds of mistakes over a lifetime of ministry. He told me, “the dream is so compelling to me that keeps me from falling. I know if I fail like that I will forfeit the chance to see the dream fulfilled that God has given me for my life.” He also said that he had the dream for everything that happened at First Assembly in Phoenix and now the Dream Center in Los Angeles over 50 years ago. When he talked about it, he said it like he could literally see the details of it years ago.
WHAT MAKES THE DREAM CENTER WORK.
So, after being at the Dream Center and seeing how it works I’m a huge fan. But it takes over $500,000/month for the Dream Center to work. And the church that meets at Angelus Temple doesn’t pay for this either. So, I asked Tommy and Matthew how they make it work financially with that size of a deficit every month. I love the answer. “If you take care of the people that nobody wants, God will send you the people everybody wants.” I’m sure they have said that a hundred times. But it is true. Tommy told me, “we believe money follows ministry” and he also told me “in the last five years I have had 15 people give me $1 million…that never happened before the Dream Center.”