Book Review: The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett
More than anything, Matthew Barnett's story of building his Dream Center in Los Angeles reminded me of David Wilkerson's 1963 THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE, in which Wilkerson recounts building a ministry to New York City's teens involved with drug addiction and gang violence. In the present day, the Dream Center is a comprehensive outreach to the homeless and poor in LA and now in NYC as well, that emphasizes finding God's love and purpose along with food, shelter, and job training. The story of how the Dream Center grew from Barnett's failed pastorship of a dying church to a vision of others with whom he could serve is compelling. Barnett strongly emphasizes in this book of how GOD, not himself, led him to build the ministries and guided him to find the outlets and resources necessary to continue to grow.
On an inspirational level, this book is remarkable. Barnett includes many stories of his own and others' interactions with the Dream Center that have produced positive and sometimes seemingly impossible changes. Barnett emphasizes the power of unconditional love and prayer that points people to God and help them to turn around.
I found this book less helpful in regard to its purpose as stated in the title: to help a person find what he was "created to do." Barnett includes general principles: for example, recognize that God can use you and your circumstances no matter what; aim to serve rather than to be successful; pay attention to God's leading (whether a sense or observations --> not specific); walk in faith with the idea of a progressive revelation; keep proper attitudes of loving others unconditionally and being open to opportunities; and do whatever presents itself no matter how small or unlikely. Also it's important to develop partnerships and persevere together in a vision.
This is certainly good advice, but general. It is interspersed with the stories from the Dream Center, so seems perhaps greater than it actually is. There is a list of a few Scriptural references in the back of the book, but not within the body of text. The book is unabashedly Christian and might be difficult for someone to read who doesn't already have this mind-set.
What Barnett has accomplished in LA with his Dream Center is phenomenal and therefore I can't find it in my heart to downgrade his book too much. However, I found this to be a "feel-good" book with remarkable true examples, but beyond these examples little substance for deeper study.
I am grateful to Tyndale House for providing this free review copy in exchange for my unbiased opinion.