I noticed a new follower on Twitter the other day. The LA Dream Center which is pastored by Matthew Barnett.
In my line of work, I’m apparently building a reputation where churches and ministries stalk my every move online. Or…they’re asking me to write about them? Maybe that’s it.
But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that honestly, the Barnetts aren’t at the top of my list of heroes. In fact, I’ve learned a great deal from them of what not to do in life.
One. Don’t treat the idea of Heaven and Hell as a marketing scheme. It’s easy to do, being a mega-church pastor. Hell is a big, fiery dungeon that you get all excited about when you preach and spit all over the microphone. But hell is just a made up marketing scheme for the Barnetts. Hell is how you build up your numbers. So are crack heads. If you can scare the shit out of people by threatening them that they’ll go to hell, several hundred random people will raise their hands in church to “get saved.” Then, you can boast on TV that you saved the entire ghetto of your city. Single-handedly.
Two. Drug addicts are people, too. To Tommy Barnett and Matthew Barnett, drug addicts aren’t people. They’re numbers. They’re a tally, a mark on the belt, so to speak. “I saved a drug addict, Mamma!” I can just hear Matthew telling his mother now. And God gave him a private jet and a pretty wife because he’s proud of Matthew for saving them all. That’s how God works, you know?
Three. Minorities aren’t put on the planet by God for you to exploit. I’m just going to go ahead and put this on the table–the Barnett’s have always struck me as a bit exploitative of minorities. There’s something heirarchical about visiting a church service–Whites on top, then Hispanics, then Blacks. If you’re a minority in leadership, you probably run a “street” ministry, because you know, minorities are “street people” and “ghetto.” In other words, racist much?
Candice lives on the Family Floor with her son. She is thankful to have a place to go where she feels safe! [At least that's what Matthew is thinking.
What a humanitarian Matthew is. He lets people live at his church. Or so the photo above
says to most people.
I attended Tommy Barnett’s church for a few years. His sermons were focused on soul-winning, outreach, and prosperity. Matthew has duplicated that same process, but he’s modernized it a bit. What’s disturbing, though, is that many of Tommy’s sermons that related to outreach and soul-winning were centered around ideas that minorities were a token that God put on the earth for him to save. Anytime minorities were “saved” from poverty, they were paraded across the large church stage. Families were brought up with their street pastor to “give their testimony” about how the church had saved them. It’s clear that Matthew does the same thing from the photo above of their girl Candice.
Is it just me, or is that a big exploitive? I think some of the soul-winning practices at the Barnett’s churches are just plain bad religion and perhaps even a bit racist.