In this article we investigate the Dream Center, a large-scale Pentecostal social outreach ministry and church, located in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. We ask three questions related to the development and forms of “Godly love” at the Dream Center.
First, as a formal organization, how does the Dream Center facilitate and model the development of different forms of Godly love? Second, what forms of Godly love are found at the Dream Center? Third, what is the impetus to these forms and how are they activated into the practical action of helping others? We argue that the Dream Center represents a twenty-first-century expression of Pentecostalism that is both Spirit-animated and socially engaged with the world, rather than being other-worldly and inwardly focused on spiritual perfection.
We argue further the Dream Center successfully embodies, animates, and motivates its members to pursue lives of love and service to others, through their experiences at the Dream Center. We conclude by suggesting that the Dream Center represents an emerging cultural desire by Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians for a faith that is both personally meaningful and engaged with today’s economic and social crises.
Richard Flory is the executive director of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.
Donald E. Miller is the co-founder of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.