Pursue Your God-Sized Dreams

Luke grew up in church. His father founded the now mega-church, Dream City Church, in Phoenix, Arizona.  “My dad naturally inspired thousands of people to connect with their life calling,” says Luke.  “Our church was a leadership laboratory and people came from all over the world to be inspired.”  Luke told his dad he didn’t feel called to ministry.  “Dad discouraged his kids from going into ministry unless we really felt like we wanted to,” he says.  “He knew we couldn’t sustain it if the desire didn’t spring from our own hearts.”  At that time, Luke was attending ASU. Tommy could see how frustrated Luke was about trying to find his life’s purpose and asked him what he felt energized about doing.  “I love to play golf,” Luke told his dad.  Tommy started taking Luke all around the world with him on his ministry trips.  During that time, Tommy couldn’t attend all of these meetings, some of which were held on some of the most sought-after golf destinations, and asked Luke to represent the church.  He was surrounded by luxury but felt like he was dying on the inside.  “All my friends thought I had it made,” says Luke.  “But the truth is this season got old really quick.” He realized he wasn’t living the life God had for him.

Luke, then 18, knew he needed a revelation.  So he got up every morning and prayed for hours asking God, “Would you speak me about my future?” By this time, Luke knew he wasn’t going to be a professional golfer.  His dad encouraged Luke if he ever got invited to speak in a church, he should do it.  “I had never preached; I was young,” says Luke.  “Everyone around me knew I had no interest in church ministry.”  But he told his dad, “Sure if someone calls and asks me to preach, I will.”  Two weeks later, the pastor of a small church in Arizona called Luke.  “I was stuck.  I accepted the invitation, memorized one of Dad’s sermons and preached it to myself in the car,” says Luke.  He says he gave the worst sermon in the history of sermons, but after he gave the invitation for people to meet Jesus, a strange shift happened.  “Suddenly, I felt comfortable,” says Luke.  “There was a power there that hadn’t been present the rest of the time.”  Luke sensed God was responding to all of his prayers.  Excitement rose up in him as Luke thought he could do that again and again without tiring of it!  Luke drove home and told his dad he was done with all of his plans and decided to follow the path God showed him.

"I pastored 2 other churches before coming to Phoenix in 2006,” says Luke.  At that time, Tommy was travelling back and forth to the Dream Center in Los Angeles so Luke filled in at the pulpit for his father.  Then in 2011, Tommy had a heart valve replacement and was out for eight months, leaving Luke in charge of the church.  “We started doing church a little differently, a little more modern,” says Luke.  “Dad came back a couple months later to a whole different service.”  They experienced multiplication growth and Tommy said it was the best service he had ever been in.  Tommy wanted Luke to be lead pastor and passed the baton to him in 2013.  “There I was in front of thousands,” says Luke, “accepting essentially my life commission.”  Tommy passed a golden-colored baton, given to him by the late Dr. Bill Bright, to Luke.  “At the moment I held that baton, I was behind the wheel and the road ahead looked a lot different than it did when Dad was driving,” he says.  “I felt an almost-crushing weight of expectation.”  Luke fell into a sudden depression.  “I was 43 years old, had been in ministry for 20 years, and now feared I didn’t have what it would take to lead where God had placed me.” Luke needed a breakthrough from his oppression.  “I knew prayer would be part of my breakthrough,” he says.  So with no fanfare or public announcement, Luke headed for “prayer mountain,” which was a prayer pavilion he helped build for his dad when he was 18, located behind the church on the side of the mountain.  For 40 days, Luke climbed the hill praying, God, give me a dream. As he overlooked the city for those weeks, Luke felt the Lord give him a vision that would fire him up for the rest of his life.

Since those 40 days of prayer in 2013, Luke says God showed him God-sized dreams for their church:  They would:

  1. Become the arts center of Arizona.  “No longer would Arizona State University be the place where all musicals be performed,” says Luke.  The arts aspect of this vision from God exploded from the start.  Within 18 months, they were selling 7,000 tickets per show and doing two full weekends of Broadway-caliber performances;
  2. Train 100,000 Christian leaders through their Dream Conferences over the next 10 years;
  3. Build an $8 million lobby, children’s facility and backstage arts center to support the dream of being the arts center of their state;
  4. Have 50,000 people attend 5,000 small groups all across their state;
  5. Be a multi-site church with campuses in every city in Arizona. “One day, Arizona will be known as a state that has people who love Jesus,” says Luke.

After his fast ended, Luke shared these God-sized visions with the church and told them they would take up a miracle offering in a month. Thirty days later, they took up a $1.7 million offering which confirmed the vision was from God!  “When you get a revelation from God Himself, you enjoy the journey so much more because you see His supernatural hand at work.  He does things you couldn’t do in a lifetime.”

For 2 ½ years, Luke struggled with the vision of being a multi-site church and gave up hope.  One day while on vacation with his family in New York, Luke felt compelled to pray to meet a specific pastor from Arizona but he didn’t know why, so the family joined in prayer together.  The following week when they were back in Arizona, Luke was studying at a coffee shop which he never frequented before.  As he was studying for his sermon, the pastor that God put on Luke’s heart to pray about tapped Luke on the shoulder.  They hadn’t seen each other in 15 years!  The man asked Luke to find a pastor to take over his thousand-seat auditorium with lots of classroom space. The boards of both churches met, prayed about the merger and voted to do it.  That Scottsdale church was their first multi-church site!

Today, their multi-site church meets the needs of thousands every week.  Their Dream Center offers hunger relief, medical programs, residential rehab for adults, shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional housing for homeless families, foster care intervention programs, jobs skills training, life skills, counseling, basic education, Bible studies and more.  

Luke says there are 4 commitments of a dreamer:

  1. Wait for the power.  “You will receive supernatural power for the task ahead if you don’t rush ahead of God’s timing.”
  2. Remember the voice of God.  “The only way to endure voices of doubt for decades is to constantly remember the voice of God,” says Luke.  “To make it bigger and louder in your heart.”
  3. Refuse to believe what you see.  “Your dream is developing even when you can’t see it,” he says.  “It is maturing under the surface.”
  4. Lock in and refuse to quit.  “How we behave in those delays (of the dream being fulfilled) determines our ultimate outcome.”

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Oldest son of Tommy Barnett (founding pastor, Phoenix First Assembly of God, now Dream City Church with 25,000 members)

Pastor, Dream City Churches, multi-site, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale AZ

Leads Phoenix Dream Center, an organization that offers hunger relief, medical programs, etc. for thousands

Author The Dream Centered Life, Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2017

Wife: Angel, 2 children


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