Matthew Barnett. Misfits Welcome: Find Yourself in Jesus and Bring the World Along for the Ride. Nelson Books (An Imprint of Thomas Nelson), 2014.
Matthew Barnett is a pastor in Los Angeles, California. He also pastors the Dream Center there, which reaches out to the homeless, addicts, and others who need help; actually, a number of volunteers at the Dream Center are people who came to it for help. Misfits Welcome is how God can use quirky people to serve others, and how Jesus has a heart for quirky people.
The book has a lot of anecdotes. These include Matthew’s stories about service and his own personal growth, and testimonies by people who came to the Dream House and had their lives transformed for the better. My favorite anecdote was about Matthew’s father, who was also a pastor. There was a football game, and an outraged dad was screaming at the referee for making an unfavorable call towards his son. The referee kept on giving the team yellow flags in response to the dad’s behavior, and the dad walked away, alone, unpopular, and rejected. But Matthew’s father reached out to this dad. I appreciated this story because I can imagine how lonely this outraged dad felt, and I found it moving that Matthew’s father showed him love. That is what this book is about: love.
The book had a lot of wisdom, about giving glory to God and accepting people’s approval as a bonus rather than being a people-pleaser, about how it is good for people to have a mission in life that helps others, and about the importance of getting out of oneself. Matthew shares this wisdom with humility.
In terms of criticisms of the book, I wish that Matthew had addressed more how quiet, shy, or introverted people can reach out to others. In talking about quirks, one that he mentioned was “a quiet personality in the midst of a big room” (page 5). Does Matthew have any stories about how such quiet personalities can make a difference in service?
Overall, though, I enjoyed this book. I was inspired to read about Christians who truly love people on society’s margins and show them love. The book tells heart-breaking stories about problems that people experience, and I applaud the Christians (and others) who are actively serving as part of the solution.
Note: I received a complimentary review copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers (http://booklookbloggers.com/) book review bloggers program. The program does not require for my review to be positive, and my review reflects my honest reaction to the book.