Sermon Illustrations


Mathew Barnett, at the young age of 20, was asked by his father Tommy Barnett to pastor an Inner City Church in Los Angeles. The first day that Mathew was at the Church it had a congregation of forty people. But instead of growing under his young and enthusiastic leadership, the church began to lose people. The situation became more and more alarming as week by week there was less and less people.

Mathew’s despair came to a breaking point one Sunday night as he showed up to church, and found himself to be the only one in attendance. He had prepared a sermon, and because of the sheer force of determination in him, and because of his resolve to endure, Mathew Barnett preached his sermon to an empty church.

That night he went home with his mind full of questions and doubts. Had God really called him, what was wrong with his leadership? It was a restless night, and around 2:30 in the morning, Mathew Barnett knew that God was talking to him. He knew that God was telling him to go down to Echo Park, in one of the very worst districts of Los Angeles.

At the risk of his own safety, Mathew followed God’s instructions, and when he got to the park he was horrified to see the destruction of humanity, the effects of sin, and the hopeless despair written on the faces of those poor people. It was in the middle of that horrible scene that Mathew’s eyes were opened up to the pain that was in the world, and then and there he started to dream.

He dreamed of a church that would never sleep, so that no matter what day it was, and what time of day you found yourself in, you could go to that church and get help. You could show up at three in the morning and get help with your addiction to heroin. You could go there if you had just gotten out of school and you knew that it wasn't safe to go home.

You could go there if you were in danger, and you could go if you were need. You could go to that church if you just wanted to know what real love even felt like.

And Mathew Barnett made a solemn promise to serve his community. The Church began to experience explosive growth. It began to reach into and transform Los Angeles.

One day a conversation was overheard. It was between two boys, and one of them was trying to describe the church, but he didn’t have the right language. He described to his friends as the place where a guy could learn how to dream again, and the Los Angeles Dream Center found it's new name.

Close your eyes and dream. How does God want to touch the people around you through your life? What impact can you have?

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