'Church that never sleeps' serves 80,000 a month in L.A.

by Kelly Ledbetter, |
Dream Center Promo /SCREEN SHOT

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – Gina, a young woman who became addicted to heroin and crystal meth by way of Vicodin, said she went to The Dream Center because she had nowhere else to go. Now she has overcome her addiction and discovered a personal relationship with God.

Founded in 1996 in a former hospital, The Dream Center is nicknamed "The Church That Never Sleeps" because it has a ministry going on in the building 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Pastor Matthew Barnett had a vision to found a church that was always open, and he achieved it in The Dream Center. "We have 200 ministries that reach out to the community, and people have come from all over the world to volunteer here," Barnett writes in The Church that Never Sleeps, his story about co-founding the Dream Center with his father, Pastor Tommy Barnett.

"Here at The Dream Center, we specialize in the impossible," the website says. "You see, with God we know that any obstacle can become a stepping-stone, and every hardship can become an opportunity."

"When the Queen of Angels Hospital was purchased, it was just a shell," Clint Carlton, director of public relations for The Dream Center, told Charisma News, marveling at the center's transformation in two decades.


The church's presence in downtown Los Angeles has improved the neighborhood, which was home to gangs and crime prior to the church's neighborhood ministries, the most recent of which is a 30-bed shelter for homeless veterans.

"A veteran wept on my shoulder today and said 'Thanks for the parade today, that I never got when I came home from war,'" Barnett posted on Facebook after the veterans shelter opened.

"Being vacant for many years before the purchase, the 15 floors of building needed to be brought up to fire code," Carlton said. "The cost to do that was over $1 million per floor. So The Dream Center started working floor by floor, bringing it up to code while sustaining the ministries on a small budget."

One of the stories shared on the website is that of Jeremy (name changed), a young man who moved into Freedom House, The Dream Center's home for emancipating youth, after he aged out of foster care, enduring unthinkable abuse.

"I love helping people because I don't want them to go through the same things I did," Jeremy shared. "I thank God for everything He has done in my life and everything He will continue to do."


Jeremy, like Gina, took advantage of The Dream Center's free transitional housing.

"Dream bigger than your regrets!" Barnett said on Facebook.

After 20 years, The Dream Center is finally fully restored and refurnished to maximize the space to help others, up from about 650 people to over 900.

"With the completion of the building, we will add about 30 percent more families and individuals that wouldn't have the chance to take advantage of our programs," Carlton stated, saying a tax credit enabled the building finally to be completed.

Volunteer-run and donor-funded, the church has resolved to meet people's needs first. It also has a clothes closet, a medical service, a mobile food truck delivering groceries in the area, and a diner serving a hot meal six days per week.

"You might feel that all you have left to give God is leftover pieces," Barnett posted on his Facebook page. "Don't despise it, every great miracle begins there."