article by APRIL CLARK HONAKER & photography by MARTIN G MEYERS
At 6 feet 5 inches tall, Kendrick Jones stands out in a crowd, but his height isn’t the only thing that draws attention. Kendrick radiates joy and never meets a stranger. At 22 years old, he believes he has discovered his purpose, which is “to call the gold out of other people.” Although the road to this discovery was not always straight, Kendrick strives to fulfill his purpose in every facet of life, whether it’s as a mentor for Ascent Life Elevated, as a worship leader at Christ Church, as founder/CEO of The Dreamer Collective or simply standing in line at the local coffee shop.
Kendrick grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and was blessed with supportive parents who always encouraged him to follow his dreams. “They really helped me see early on that anything was possible,” he said. As a kid, Kendrick played a lot of sports, and his dad was often his coach. “That’s what he is to my life,” Kendrick said. “He pushes me.” At the same time, his mom was always there to lift him up when things went wrong. She’s been a source of lightness and laughter. “She gets me to dance on disappointment,” he said.
With this foundation of family support, Kendrick developed a bravery and willingness to take risks that has continually played a role in his life. The first time he felt that bravery was in third grade when he decided to sing the gospel song “Shout” in the school talent show. He just signed up, without discussing the choice with anyone. In that moment, Kendrick was surprised by his bravery, but he has since come to own it. “I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t put myself in uncomfortable situations,” he said.
To those who find themselves struggling against fear or who feel like giving up, he said, “Don’t give up. If you’re in a place where there’s blandness everywhere, don’t be afraid to change it up. Do something you’ve never done before. Change your environment. Smile at someone. Talk to someone you don’t even know.” He believes we can find a lot of inspiration in other people and attributes his lesson of change to pastor Jeremy Lowe at Christ Church in West Monroe, Louisiana, where Kendrick now leads worship.
Over the last few years, Kendrick has faced some important moments that compelled him to take his own advice. These moments have called on his bravery and willingness to embrace change. When Kendrick enrolled at the University of Louisiana, Monroe, as a freshman pre-pharmacy major, he thought he was on the right path for himself, but after more than two years in the program, he started to have doubts about his decision and came to realize that his dream of being a pharmacist wasn’t his at all. Though he knew he was on the wrong path, he wasn’t yet sure where to find the right path, so he prayed. “Anytime I’m in a place where I don’t know what the next step should be, I pray,” he said. “I prayed for clarity.”
A series of events followed that gave Kendrick that clarity. At the time, he was involved in student government and was serving as a campus tour guide. On the day his path changed, he arrived at work expecting to give tours only to learn that he and the other guides would be helping at the campus career fair instead. The first three employers Kendrick helped worked in companies related to communication. Then he and a friend bumped into a woman who had been his first advisor in the pre-pharmacy program, and he learned that she had changed career paths and was now a professor of communication. As the wheels turned in Kendrick’s mind, he shared with her that he’d been feeling drawn to communication as well, so the two of them set a time to talk. As they explored the curriculum, they realized that Kendrick could still graduate on time, if he changed majors. This meeting with his former advisor confirmed everything for Kendrick. “That was the unleashing-clarity moment,” he said. Some might say it was coincidence that they ran into one another again, but Kendrick said, “It was God.”
Kendrick graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and a minor in communication advocacy. He said choosing to major in communication was one of the biggest game changers of his life. “It gave me the bones to express all these passions and dreams,” he said, “and the students really encouraged me, believed in me and supported me.” In studying communication, Kendrick discovered how much he loved blogging and telling people’s stories, and he learned how to do it well. One of his professors Dr. Leslie Pace was a huge mentor. “She really pushed me to be all I could be,” he said. In his short time there, the communication department became family to him.
Kendrick’s time in college also helped shape him into a man ready for his purpose. Through his involvement in student government, Kendrick served on a committee for student life and academic enhancement. This committee supported students by giving out small, encouraging treats during finals week. Kendrick was also part of the university’s PREP staff, which helps guide new freshmen during the orientation process. Through experiences like these, Kendrick saw small acts of kindness have big impacts in people’s lives. “Being at ULM helped shape me as a leader,” he said. It also sparked a passion for being intentional in people’s lives.
As this passion was unfolding, Kendrick started to dream of attending seminary at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia, and he devised a plan to raise money to make that dream possible. He designed a simple t-shirt emblazoned with the words “dream dreamer.” Priced at $20, the shirt was a way to encourage others to pursue their dreams as they supported his. Kendrick’s first order of 24 shirts sold out in one day, and his next order of 80 shirts sold out in one week. Soon he was receiving interest in the shirts from out of state, and he was surprised at how quickly and positively people were responding. Eventually the original purpose of the campaign, which was to raise money for seminary, was overshadowed by the message of the shirts and Kendrick’s passion for documenting people’s stories in relation to that message. He started to see his dream differently—from God’s perspective—and realized that he was being driven by his own sense of timing and purpose, not God’s.
As his perspective shifted, Kendrick was invited to introduce Joe White, the founder of Kanakuk Kamps, at a ministry event on campus called After Dark. Although he only spoke for a few minutes, he got to share a bit of his story and how the message of his shirts was becoming a movement. “I got to share what my heartbeat was behind this movement,” he said. During the event, Kendrick’s friends rallied around him for support. They were not only wearing and selling the shirts but also talking about their dreams. Afterward, Kendrick’s mom, who had attended the event, understood the significance of what he was doing. “My mom got on board that night,” he said.
After that night, Kendrick decided to start The Dreamer Collective. “I felt led to continue to do this,” he said. “Isn’t there a lot more value in helping others realize their dreams?” On the “About” page of his website DreamDreamer.org, he wrote, “I created The Dreamer Collective with hopes to inspire the world to pursue their dreams. My hope is that this cause would encourage you to discover your passion and to find your purpose. Most of all, The Dreamer Collective seeks to remind you that your story matters.” Reflecting on his decision to start The Dreamer Collective, he said, “The pursuit of one dream led to the unveiling of my purpose.”
For some people, dreams are just movies that play in our minds while we sleep or things we want but will never have. But for Kendrick, dreams are so much more. He said, “The aspect of dreaming, in a sense, came from God speaking in my life and showing me that before I could dream, He had dreamed of me. Before my dreams were a factor, I was His dream. God has us. We’re in His thoughts—all the amazing things we’ll do and accomplish. I believe God is a dreamer, and so are we.” Kendrick believes that it’s in our nature to have dreams and that each of us has a valuable story. “You have a Father who created you this way,” he said. “No matter who you are or what your circumstances are, your dreams matter.”
One thing that has been especially beautiful for Kendrick to watch is how other people with similar stories have been inspired by his. One of his friends Morgan Potts started her own business called Granarly, which has been very successful. She made that choice based on a literal dream and after being accepted to veterinary school the same week. Kendrick said they are both dreamers who inspired each other, held each other accountable and reminded each other that their dreams mattered.
The dream-dreamer movement not only has the potential to create greater intimacy and inspire people on a small scale. It also has the potential to multiply that intimacy and inspire others on a grander scale. The shirts themselves are a tool, a conversation starter, a way to get people talking about their dreams. Kendrick believes that if we encourage people to share their dreams it can change the tone of our lives. It can eclipse the sources of darkness and negativity, whether they come from the news or somewhere closer to home. But The Dreamer Collective is about more than t-shirts. DreamDreamer.org features a blog series in which people share their dreams as a way to inspire others, and Kendrick has other plans to expand the reach of The Dreamer Collective.
“For me to be inspired,” Kendrick said, “it means opening my eyes to something I’ve never seen before, and it impacts me so much I have to take action right then. It’s almost biological. It’s a rush, and I feel like I can’t do anything until I deal with that feeling.” He believes being inspired on a daily basis is super important for everyone, and he hopes to contribute to that inspiration whether it’s through a t-shirt, a blog post or another form.
Kendrick’s plans to grow The Dreamer Collective include a podcast series, a monthly newsletter and something he calls Insta-meets, which will be one-time events at various locations designed to bring dreamers together for fun, story-telling, dream-sharing and fellowship. “My vision,” he said, “is to see the community embrace this and get inspired.” He imagines people having their morning coffee while listening to his podcasts or reading his blog and feeling ready to greet the day with passion and purpose. “This would continue to encourage me to see the value in others and open my eyes,” he said. “I hope to see growth, empowerment and inspiration in myself, the community and the world.”