Episode 13: Talking “Significant Matters” with Tom Bassford

We want to Care but without creating dependency

The pray, care, share, and disciple lifestyle is a positive way to impact our world providing we don’t create dependency in the lives of those for whom we care.

A few years ago, several books came out, “When Helping Hurts” and “Toxic Charity,” that shook up the caring community.

In this episode, Tom Bassford, Director, Significant Matters, speaks to the pause caused nationally by the church and within philanthropy by the concerns raised. He says, do not over-react and stop everything. We had to go through the process of expressing charity to get to clarity.

We can now learn to give and serve in a way that provides dignity and partnership in providing sustainable solutions. You’ll want to hear how Tom suggests that we can reach through our own “Jerusalem” (our neighborhood) to reach our “Samaria” (those similar but not just like us) to give a “hand up” instead of a “hand out.”

There is simplicity on the other side of complexity to be found once we determine that we want to create lasting transformation. In this case, the people for whom we care get to participate in their progress. We must move beyond merely “doing good” to providing lasting solutions.

This episode may be disruptive and challenging. It may deconstruct some of your paradigms for caring, but it doesn’t leave you hanging. There are better solutions ahead for those willing to choose the more complex path that requires partnering when caring. The resources, stories, and support is there for us to chart a new course.

If you care and want to express it, I challenge you to listen and learn the words, “expose,” “engage,” and “redemptively entangle” then go care in a more effective, transformational way. Tom Bassford and Significant Matters is here to help.

Gary Kendall, Catalyst, Love KC, often teaches the pray, care, share and disciple lifestyle. Tom challenges the “care” component with the warning to look out for helping that hurts. Listen as he describes a process that brings lasting transformation. 

Episode Transcript

Donna: Welcome to the B.L.E.S.S. podcast, where we join Jesus, where He is already at work. We dream of the day when every home in America is adopted by one or more persons living the prayer, care, and share lifestyle. Your host is Gary Kendall catalyst for Love KC and the National Prayer mobilizer for Blesseveryhome.com.

Gary works with founder Chris Cooper and the team at Blesseveryhome.com to equip you to live on mission where you live, learn, work, and, play. If you haven’t yet signed up to adopt your neighborhood you can do so at Blesseveryhome.com. Now let’s turn our attention to this episode of the B.L.E.S.S. podcast.

Gary: Welcome to the B.L.E.S.S podcast where we join Jesus where he is already at work where we live, learn, work, and play. On the B.L.E.S.S podcast, we teach a tool. We encourage people to use the Blesseveryhome.com website and to adopt their neighborhoods living the pray, care, share lifestyle. It results in people becoming disciples. But we recognize that it’s a tool. I would say as much, or more so we teach the heart; helping people to learn to have a heart for God and a heart for people, to love God and to love their neighbors as themselves.

Today we have Tom Bassford, who leads a ministry called Significant Matters as our guest. Tom and I have the benefit of being long-time friends. We have seen a lot of life together. We’ve walked with each other through a lot of good, celebratory times and some hard times too.

Tom, I want you to tell a little bit about your ministry and what you do today, but I want you to start at the place where someone was praying for you. We always talk about praying, caring, and sharing with the people in our sphere of influence. Who was praying for you? How did those prayers shape who you became?

Tom: Welcome to the B.L.E.S.S podcast where we join Jesus where he is already at work where we live, learn, work, and play. On the B.L.E.S.S podcast, we teach a tool. We encourage people to use the Blesseveryhome.com website and to adopt their neighborhoods living That is such an interesting question, and I have thought about that over the years, but I haven’t thought about that in a long time until you just asked a minute ago. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I grew up in a home with a wonderful Mom and a wonderful Dad. So much of what I would consider my character came from my parents who didn’t prioritize church. So, over the years, I have wondered about your question.

I think one of the questions I’m going to ask when I get to heaven is, Lord, who did pray for me? I’m sure my mother prayed because of me. It was probably, Oh, Lord, help me get through this day and not kill him! But the kind of prayer that you’re talking about in which people are holding you up and praying on your behalf and beseeching the Lord, I can’t point to anybody. I can’t point to anybody over time. I’m sure my kids have prayed for me and those kinds of things. 

Gary: Who was the first person to invest in you?

Tom: Well, the first person to invest in me, or so I would imagine that, was one of the first people I can think of who prayed for me in the way that I think you’re asking, was a high school buddy; a guy who befriended me.

My dad was military, so I grew up my whole life on military installations, and that’s just a way of life. Then in my sophomore year of high school, he retired, and I moved off base into a civilian high school, and that was a pretty traumatic experience for this kid who had never been in a public school. The military installations are somewhat insulated.

Racism was still there, I’m sure, but kids didn’t experience that much because blacks and whites grew up together, and I don’t remember those issues. It was in the ’70s, and there was quite a bit of racial tension going on at the time. So, anyhow, I was pretty isolated in my sophomore and junior year of high school and could not find any group.

Lo and behold, one day in a gym class, some kid walked across the gym. He scared the daylights out of me because nobody paid any attention to me my whole life. I thought he was going to invite me to a party, or at least I was hoping he would say that we got this big keg going on or something. Instead, he marches across the gym and asks, do you want to go to church?

I was as unprepared for that question as I have any questions in my life. I was dumbfounded. So, I considered my alternatives, which were none, so I went with him, and I was introduced to Christianity at age about 16. I fell into this nest of the Christian community that treated me like they’d known me my whole life.

Gary: Wow.

Tom: I was just swept into a Nazarene church in Wichita, Kansas. That group kind of enveloped me and for the first time in my life, I felt this sense of extended family with roots. So, I’m sure early in those days, and afterward, some folks prayed.


This story illustrates what we’re always talking about. We have to get outside of our church life. We must go outside the walls of a church, not just GO to church but also BE the church if we’re going to extend life to those in our sphere of influence. Thanks for sharing that.

So fast forward now, at some point in time, you were a pastor, and you were trying to help people do for others what was done for you. Serving our world is super important to you. I think it’s probably always been true at some level. How did you first get started serving? What did you see happen there? What are some of the things made you say I want to do more of this in my life? 

Tom:  Well, coming out of an unchurched background and experiencing Christianity as a teenager, my kind of natural connection for me was to want to help. I wanted to help all the teenagers in the world experience what I had experienced in my teens. 

Gary: …to find what you found…

Tom: Almost immediately, within a year, I knew I wanted to be a youth pastor, and so I quickly moved in that direction. Part of my DNA has been, see a need, and meet a need. Do something significant and whatever you do go all-in. So that’s where I was deeply grateful that, as a teenager, God had entered into my life through other youth and youth groups. I got involved and spent 20 years as a youth pastor, and it was a perfect match for me. I had the opportunity to work with young people into my 40s, and that was a perfect match for me. At 40 years of age, I began to find myself losing my edge as it were. I wasn’t nearly as excited about junior high lock-ins.

Gary: And they were looking to someone else.

Tom: It was time, so I went into the Senior Pastorate, and there you are all in too. You just do it. Part of being a Senior Pastor is leading the mission work of your church, and so I did what every Pastor does. You have a missions department, and in that missions department, you’re doing certain things.

But I think like most of us, like most people, I would say, in the latter part of the 20th century and now into the 21st century; we’ve wrestled with the story. We’ve wrestled with what it means to help people. We’ve come up with words and phrases and books like, “When Helping Hurts,” “Toxic Charity,” “Poverty Cure,” It’s one thing to have a heart for the poor, but we have to have a mind for the poor. All of those phrases have come about; I would say in the last 10 to 15 years as we have wrestled intuitively with the idea that we may feel good about some of the helping that we’ve done, but are we helping?

Gary: Is this just good for me or is it actually good for others?

Tom: Right.

Gary: I feel better when I serve but have I made a lasting difference? 

Tom: Again, it’s more my DNA. When there’s a problem, and you say, I’m not good with this; what can we do about it? Well, I lean into it. We need to figure it out. So, that’s what happened. I got involved like every pastor in the Promise Keepers movement. I got involved in racial reconciliation.

I was up in the Chicago area at the time and became really good friends with an African-American pastor on the South Side of Chicago. Anton Matthews is his name. Anton became like a brother to me. He was the first African-American leader that I met that would genuinely engage me without shaming me for being a white male.

He would argue with me and allow me to argue with him without calling me a racist because I held certain opinions. I needed that. I needed somebody who could help me unpack the things I thought I knew that I didn’t know. We didn’t always end up agreeing with each other, but one of the things that happened to me in that whole process as I began to see things like systemic injustice.

I began to see things that the category of which I was born into simply did not expose me to. It opened my eyes to poverty, to injustice, and to some things that made me step back and say okay, there’s a lot I don’t understand here, and I need to understand this better.

Gary: You took me up to Chicago to meet him. Do you remember?

Tom: I do. 

Gary: That was a great trip. I enjoyed meeting your friend and seeing the ministry that he had. That was impactful. You made a statement in those days that I’ve reflected on many times. You were the first one I heard make it. Maybe it’s new with you but what you said was that some of us were born on second base or born on third base socially. I hadn’t ever considered that before, unfortunately.

Please explain that statement. It plays into some of the things that we’re going to talk about later in this in this podcast.

Tom: I think it was a Texas Senator that said it way back when. He said I was born on third base, and I act like I hit a triple. I’ll put it this way; it’s been a way of helping me understand. I don’t want to get into the political correctness of things about white privilege and things like that. I understand the primary connotation behind that, but I don’t think it helps lead to the reconciling work that we want to do. So I’m not going to call it white privilege although others might. But to that point, the realization that much of what I have is because of the category that I was born into is a lack of understanding goes for most of us. Anybody could say that about himself or herself if you were born in the United States as opposed to sub-Saharan Africa.

Gary: Right. 

Tom: You were born with certain things that were credited to you. I will readily admit I was born into the most privileged category in the world–a white male in the United States. What it began to do for me is it started to help me understand how much harder, and how much additional work, my African-American brothers and sisters on 68th and Ashland in Chicago have to work to get where I am. And that’s not to mention the Ite Oba people on the island of Luzon; they work every bit as hard as I do. To use the Poverty Cures’ definition–because they lack opportunity and networks of exchange of which I have an abundance of, they struggle to make ends meet. I don’t struggle because I was born into tremendous opportunities and networks of exchange that allow me to make good on my entrepreneurial opportunities.

Gary: I saw this, I don’t like this word necessarily, but I think it illustrates what I’m trying to say is, evolution, inside of your life. When you were first working here at Indian Creek, and you were leading what we called “Serve Days” you would organize a large number of volunteers from Indian Creek on a Saturday.

You would work ahead of time to coordinate with someone where we were going to go and serve. We would go and do something impactful at least for the day. It impacted the volunteers and gave them ways to serve. It helped them to see beyond themselves. But over time, there was a diminishing return for the overall impact and transformation that, in many cases, wasn’t taking place.

I think what we hoped would happen, would be that people on their own would begin to do serving things and start to get involved in things more extended term. We didn’t see as much of that as we wanted to. Inside of you, there was this growing edge that said, there’s got to be more.

Can you talk a little bit about that? We’re just aware that as people are listening, we’re teaching this lifestyle of pray, care, share that ends up being disciple-making. So, in the “Care” framework, you have many people who are doing caring kinds of things but today can we stretch them a little bit to say, caring matters!  It all counts! These are real people we are serving, but can you help us maybe chart a path?

How does caring count and matter down the road in a longer-term way? How can we turn caring acts into something that looks much more like the lasting transformation? How do we serve in a way that is going to help that person stand on his or her own feet someday and give back to someone else?

Tom: Gary, I think what’s happening in the world in just virtually everything is that we have gotten beyond the purely simple. I have to say this, in almost any conversation I have, all the simple stuff has been done. God is not a simple God, despite this notion to “keep it simple stupid.”

Our God’s not a simple god. God is a complex God, and He has created the complexities of this universe. But even more exciting than that, He has created within us the imago Dei. Let’s tap into that and unpack the complexity. We get to have these aha moments when all of a sudden, we realize that E = EMC squared. Einstein didn’t invent that. God did.

When the human being became capable through millennia of stretching and pushing itself into understanding these things, we became capable of doing. And then once we became capable of understanding those abstract concepts in that complexity, we became capable of great things. We have also done horrible things with those great things. We’ve seen that in science but that’s beside the point. We serve a God who loves complexity. I believe that we have to understand in some way, shape, or form, the complexity of what it means to serve and to care.

I think part of that comes from the Acts 1:8 passages. I would say start with this. Just say to all your listeners; let’s think this through. MacDonald called reason, “the Lord’s candle to our souls.” Let’s reason this through. Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria & the uttermost parts of the world.” I mean that’s what you’re talking about. But when we start with this we need to be asking ourselves; am I a witness now to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is those near me and like me? In my way of defining this passage, Judaea and Samaria are those near me but not like me. Then the uttermost parts of the world are those not near me and not like me.

I think we continue to conflate the last two categories with the first. So many of the disciple-making movement ministries in the United States, I would say, have to do with being a witness in Jerusalem, on my cul-de-sac to people near me, and like me. Caring for those people is fundamentally different than caring for people in the other two categories, and we have not stopped long enough to think that through.

Gary: It’s an okay place to start but not an okay place to stay. 

Tom: Well, I would say it’s true. But it is fundamentally different because people near me and like me are in the same socioeconomic background. So Gary, if you’re on my cul-de-sac and I’m on your cul-de-sac, you probably make the relatively same amount of money that I make. You probably have the equal opportunities that I have. No power differential exists in the cul-de-sac.

But the moment you start trying to work with people on the other side of the tracks you’ve just moved into a different socioeconomic culture. There are power differentials there. Now you’re dealing with Judaea and Samaria. The power differentials between socioeconomic groups create this sort of paternalism.

The paternalism that doesn’t exist within, I would say, Jerusalem. So I’m just saying, first of all, let’s understand that when we talk about serving, we need to know what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about serving truly my neighbor, it’s a different thing. They’ve lost a mother, they’ve lost a father, and they’ve got a kid that’s on drugs. You understand the deal; they’re your peers.

Gary: Right. 

Tom: We know how to do that serving pretty good. It’s when we start going across the line of socioeconomic barriers that it starts to get paternalistic. That’s the place where most missions; the mission work of the church is almost always across socioeconomic lines. So this church, Indian Creek, has a mission budget and the mission budget has a part of it targeted to helping Johnson County people. They ask the question, how do we help people in this country and this, typically in the context of poverty?

What I became more interested in; is not, how we become better neighbors to the people on my cul-de-sac, which is a legitimate thing and I think what you guys are doing is so much in line with that thing. But when those in that cul-de-sac begin to ask; what could we do to help people in the world, that’s when I would say to them that it’s not enough to simply have a heart for the poor. You have to have a mind for the poor. If we would take these people on Saturdays and have them do a little work project across socioeconomic lines, they would do something good. They would serve those poor folk. Pat themselves on the back and tell themselves what good wonderful people they are as they go back to their cul-de-sac.

The second thing I would have people understand is that those who have been born into a socioeconomic group in which they have the stuff to give away, like money and time, for volunteerism–in that group–the passage; “to him whom much has been given, much will be demanded” must speak at least in part to the financial resources, the privilege and the opportunity that you have.

I believe God is calling us into that realm to expand our understanding of what it means to bring the resources of my world to bear upon the needs of people in another world. That’s where we have to start wrestling with things. I’ve taught this in youth.

When I was still pastoring, I had a simple three-step process that I tried to help my people understand. Those of you, who have much, try to figure out how to serve those in the second two categories–the Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. There is a natural process that we all go through, and I call it; expose, engage, and redemptive entanglement. Expose, engage, entangle.

So churches like this one here, the Indian Creek Community Church in Olathe, KS, who has people who want to serve, I would say, what you need to do for your mission work is to see that part of the disciple-making process for you is to understand the way God has wired us.

First of all, we need to be exposed to something. If you look at it even in your own life you know it’s true. The first time I was exposed to poverty, it wrecked me, totally wrecked me.

Exposure wrecks your heart. Exposure opens you up to the reality that you were born on third base. It is a great place to start, a horrible place to end. If we’re not careful, all we want to do is have that feeling over, and we become benevolent narcissists in the process. Most churches have never thought it through far enough.

The next step for a person then is to engage. To expose, it’s a one and done.  It broke my heart. I take a couple of selfies with those kids, and me or whatever it is, and prove that I’m a caring person. No, no, no! The church needs to get out in front of that process and say, no.

My ultimate goal when we were doing those “Serve Saturdays” was to expose people and wreck their hearts. But then I was working with the ministries that we were serving, and I said, I want you to do a little five-minute presentation at the end, and I want you to give everybody, the one hundred people at this event, give them two or three opportunities where they could become engaged.

Now engagement is not about one and done, but it’s about, “you can count on me.” I’ll be in a mentoring program. What’s happened now is you’re pushing the disciple-making process a little bit further from the one and done experience to, you can count on me every Thursday from this time to this time.

But then the third step in that process, I believe, as part of spiritual formation, is what I call entanglement. God has wired all of us to become redemptively entangled in something. It is that thing that you cannot, not do. How do we help people go through this process of exposure, engage, and entangle?

I would say, the mission department of a church needs to see this part of the disciple-making process is spiritual formation around mission maturity.  We can take mission leaders and help them understand the process of exposure, engagement, and entanglement. Now, if anybody goes back and listens to this podcast and breaks it out a little bit, you’ll see the logic of where I’m going.

Gary: Sure.

Tom: First of all, you have to understand the socioeconomic difference between the three; Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria. Then, you’ve got to realize that there’s a process of expose, engage, entangle. Then if we’re not careful, we get stuck and simply in expose and engage, and that then leads to “helping that hurts” towards those in this socioeconomic group.

So we’ve had to push our thinking a little bit further to say; is the work that we’re engaged in not just relief and betterment but is it truly development that creates the conditions for people to lift themselves out of poverty? Now all of a sudden, we’re into complexity. But Gary, we can do this if we’ll take a deep breath and step back.

I think that the simple expose and engage around relief and betterment has led to helping that hurts. Now we’re trying to figure out what redemptive entanglement might look like in the area of development. We need to take a step back and give ourselves the space to figure it out. How do we help some of the ministries we’re working with include that particular piece in it?

Who else within our congregations can help us get to those development kinds of things? Here’s what we’re seeing happen all over the world; when we get to the point where we’re helping people create sustainable solutions for their own problems in the context of poverty, it becomes a lampstand upon which to put the gospel. That’s the lampstand upon which we get to share the hope that we have in Christ. So it’s not leading with the Four Spiritual Laws, it’s not asking people the question; if you were to die tonight do you know where you would go? That’s not the lampstand anymore. The lampstand is; I need a job. I need a way to take care of my own family.

Gary: I need a micro-loan. 

Tom: I need a church that is mobilizing its people and its resources to serve my community and me. Where are those churches? Here’s what happens in those churches, you get business-minded people who’ve been sitting on the sidelines all of their life, writing checks. They’ve got the gift of business, and they’ve never been invited to the party.

Gary: So, tell two stories. First, tell the story of Larry Endicott because he’s a good example; his work with Chuck Allen where he just began simply with awareness and then the story of your friend in Lawrence, who is a businessman, that is now working with India.

Do you know Larry’s story? Do you want me to tell it? 

Tom: You tell Larry’s story. 

Gary: Larry Endicott would go with us on Saturdays. He has a gift of helps. Larry is a great guy, a former pastor who is retired now. He is a handyman that can fix anything. Larry is the kind of guy that you need as a friend. He would go and work with Chuck Allen up in Wyandotte County. He began to serve there and got to know the staff. Larry became a friend to Chuck. He saw the ministry and then began to donate some of his time.

What he realized over time is, they need me regularly. So he started giving his time there to serve faithfully. I would say that was engaging and where it became redemptively entangled was, he began recruiting his friends. He began to say they don’t just need me. They need your gifts too. Pretty soon he’s the foreman of projects that Chuck is doing in Wyandotte County.

So on an individual level, and this was a several year process, he went beyond simple service. It’s a process. So that’s what an individual can do and how to use your gifts. That is our prayer, if people are going to pray, care, and share, and eventually create discipleship–we want caring that has the result of redemptive entanglements; that’s what we’re aiming for.

But to take it to another whole level, tell us about your friend, the businessman in Lawrence. I know you can tell that story about India and the India Gospel League and Sam Stephens, but I think it’d be great for our listeners to hear how he employed his business skills to change cities inside of India.

Tom: I may expand it even further because this is a business guy in the Lawrence area that I’ve known for a lot of years. He serves on my board, and in all honesty, this man, Wayne McDaniel, probably represents the poster child for what I would call kind of a Half-time movement. We all know that the baby boomers are retiring. They are healthier and wealthier than any other generation in history.

In the first half of my life, I’m building success. In the second half of my life, I’m trying to build significance. Well what I love about Wayne, is that he has been in search of a legacy and he’s been on that journey for the last 15 years. To his credit, Wayne has been willing to engage in the learning process. It goes way back to an early conversation in which he said, God’s given me all this, and I want to make a difference in the world.

So I said, Well, Wayne where do you want to make a difference and why? He said I’ve always had a heart for India. I said great, what kind of difference do you make? I was more about sustainable solutions. He said I want to make sustainable changes; I want to be a part of something that helps people, and I believe in sustainable transformation.

So I gave him the name of three different ministries over in India and told him to research those three. I said I would take him to India and so he could get an up-close and personal look at the whole thing. So he did. He chose the India Gospel League because he liked what he saw there.

So, we went over there, and we spent some time with Samuel Stephens. Wayne got to look at the opportunities there and what they do to help people, over five to seven years. Wayne got excited. So this is what I’d say to pastors that are listening; Pastor, you don’t understand that a lot of your business people think differently than you do. They are thinking in terms of leverage, which most pastors don’t even know what that means really or not as business people do.

Wayne wasn’t content to adopt a village between him and Judy. What Wayne wanted to do was come back and infect his whole business, so they had set up a plan where they were sharing 10% of their profits and putting them into any charitable work the people within the organization wanted to do. That’s a pretty significant amount of money.

Gary: Yeah, it is. 

Tom: One of the things that he came back with was to adopt a village which was a $60,000 commitment over five years, and his office said let’s do it. The whole office did. He ended up taking everybody from that office over to India to see it firsthand. Many of these people were not Christ-followers. Here’s the lampstand again that I’m talking about. The lampstand of being-an-answer to the questions people are asking in the here and the now.

The secular humanist in the United States is not asking questions necessarily about spiritual issues, but they want to know that what you are doing is helping people in their present condition. You see what Sam Samuel is doing, and it’s clearly based on the Gospel, but he’s helping people in the here-and-now in such a way that you could argue he’s making no real significant difference between the here-and-now and the here-and-after.

All of a sudden, the here-and-after starts to gain gravity in the mind of a secular person when we treat the here-and-now as equally important. There’s not this duplicity with these Christians who are just trying to get spiritual points. They care about both sides of the coin; so it started to have that same impact there. Wayne’s journey has been such a wonderful journey.

Can I tell another story because I want to fast all the way forward? Now, this is years of working with Wayne. Wayne is on my board. We had a gentleman come and speak at our S.A.T., talks a couple of years ago, named Don Larson, who was a V.P. with Sony and later with Hershey. He was opening Hershey plants all around the world, and God got a hold of his heart in this incredible way. In essence, God said to him; I want you to stop making money off the poor. See this is part of the thinking that I don’t have time to get into right now, but we’ve got to get here. There’s a difference between making money for the poor and making money with the poor.

Gary: Yeah. 

Tom: There’s a fundamental difference in that. Part of it comes to ownership and things like that. God was saying you’re making lots of money writing checks for the poor. I want you to make money with the poor. He ended up in Mozambique. He started the Sunshine Nut Company, an export business of cashews over there. He’s selling them with QVC.

This guy got his open doors to the highest stages in the world; the World Bank, the Nobel Peace Prize Movement, the U.N. General Council, and the Millennium Goals, and all kinds of stuff like that. Here’s this humble man who is a businessman. He’s created an export business that’s got the attention of the highest levels of the government in Mozambique. They are working to employ Mozambicans, and they are bringing income into the country. Don Larsen is his name. He is championing this idea of business as mission.

So we took some folks over to see Don because we were exploring Significant Matters and a way that we can help churches become more involved in business as mission. Wayne wasn’t able to go with us, but we ended up getting some great conversations from my board members exploring the possibility of maybe investing and Don needed four million dollars to take it to the next level. These are big bucks.

Gary: That’s big.

Tom: Don comes back to the states comes and stays at the house with my wife, Nancy, and I. We invited Wayne and Judy to come over for dinner. We were talking. While Don is trying to raise money for this and that and the other thing to get his next shipment for QVC he needs a $50,000 bridge loan. Wayne and Judy decide to make him a loan for that. No big deal.

But what he did next, and now I’m going back to Wayne, all the way to India, 15 years later, has been down this road with me is redemptive entanglement and what it means to help create opportunities for people. Wayne says, Tom; what if Significant Matters started a loan fund?

I said I’m all for it provided the loan fund is not a bunch of rich guys who just put their money in and have these projects around the world. If we can start this fund and it can be an incentive to help the average congregation to invest some of their mission dollars into business startup beyond microloans, now we’re talking the kind of stuff Don needed $50,000 for.

What if we could begin to raise money, and then Significant Matters would incentivize churches. So let’s say a church had a project in Uganda. It was a chicken farm, and it’s going to cost $9,000, and it’s a partner the church has had for years and years and years, but that poor person can’t get $9,000. It’s too big for a microloan. Well, why couldn’t the church have a loan fund, not a grant because people can create wealth the same way that you and I did? So here’s what we will do, if the church will put $3,000 from its budget into the fund and then get some business people from their congregation to add to it we can make it work. What we’re trying to create here, we are sneaky. We want the pastors, the mission pastors and the business-minded people of their church to work together on a project that makes sense to the business-minded.

Gary: Then the pastors have skin in the game. 

Tom: The church has skin in the game. The business people will probably get this idea, and if it’s vetted right and it’s made, then Significant Matters will put in a third.

So, Significant Matters from the catalyst fund. We’ll put in $3,000, the church puts in $3,000 and then there is a $9,000 loan made from year to year whatever the conditions are. But it’s a loan, and at the end of that time, it’s paid back. Now Significant Matters gets its portion back incentivize some of the church. But now the church has $6,000 in a loan fund to look around and ask; whom else could we do this with? Can you imagine what begins to happen in the minds of business-minded people as they think that?

Wayne said, I want to leave a legacy; fifteen years ago, he adopts a village in India, but he’s not satisfied with that. He’s leveraging and leveraging, and then he gets to the point that he bought into this idea. If we can use this fund to incentivize churches, then Wayne says, I’m in.

His first thought was that it could be a lot of work. But that’s our niche. We need to help the church, as an individual congregation, understand that part of what it means to help people break the cycle of poverty is to provide capital for them to create wealth on their own; it’s things like jobs. I guarantee you that as we do that, it becomes a lampstand upon which we can share the hope that we have in Christ.

Gary: There’s an education process here. So, in this last little bit share how they can find out more? I know about S.A.T. Talks, but they don’t know that. Tell how they can get on the S.A.T. talks on the website. You also do them locally here in Kansas City. Help them with the education process of how can they get from here to there.

Tom: Well, what we realized was about five or six years ago, after books like “Helping that Hurts” and “Toxic Charity” came out, the church had been in denial, just as secular philanthropy has for years. But I would say within the last five to eight years both secular philanthropy and the church have come out of that denial. We are convinced that much of their helping is hurting.

Initially, that sent everybody into the tailspin of let’s not do anything. Have we ruined everything? I say no, stop! We had to go through that to get to where we are today. There’s nothing wrong with how we got here. It’s how we got here. The only wrong thing would be to stay here and finish.

So what we’ve got to do is begin to step into the complexity. People respond to stories and the church, especially, is a storied community. We decided to take a page right out of TED Talks and say, you know what the church needs right now is not just theory and inspiration. What they need are the stories of early pioneers that are paying the dumb tax for all of us in this space.

So we decided that we’d start bringing together voices from all around the world. We bring people in the world of missions, global missions, international missions, and domestic missions everything from the soup kitchen to business mission. We’re asking them to come and tell us your best 15 Minute story about what you’re doing, what you’re learning, what’s worked, what’s not worked. We want to point to something like that.

S.A.T. Talks are not the end of the story but something like that we can do. We’ve got 50 different videos. Bob Lupton has been a part of that. Michael Miller with Poverty Cure has been a part of it, and a lot of names that you would recognize and they’re all coming for the same reason. They all admit none of us have this figured out. All of us are committed to the fact that the mission has to move towards sustainable solutions. So that’s where we start.

We look at the stories and take a deep breath and say if they can do it, we can do it. S.A.T. talks help you see what could be and we’ve developed a framework for missions, called Missions 3.0 and that’s a process. We do workshops on the frame for missions of the 21st century.

We’ve found what the church needs is a way to understand their reality. So what is the framework? Who are the major players, the volunteers, the resources, the church, the partners, and the community? How do we reframe expectations? How do we tackle outcomes? How do we champion collaboration? How do we cultivate innovation? I just gave you a few of those little sentences. That’s the framework.

Then we say, and it’s true, it takes two to three years to change the trajectory of your church. It takes three to five years to improve the outcomes. But we can do it, and we have found that when churches sign up for the long process, they can do it. But change is a process.

Come to the S.A.T. talks–October 16th through the 18th here in the Kansas City area. We’re doing a mission workshop here in the Kansas City area in November. I forget exactly the date. It’ll be up on the website. We’re doing workshops across the country as well. We’re doing some regional, what we call one day S.A.T.– It’s a small one-day version of SAT talks. We’ve got one in Lafayette, Indiana. I think it’s November 9th or something like that.

Gary: Remind the listeners, if they want to find you, how do they find you?

Tom: You can find us in two places, first at S.A.T., and it stands for sustainability and transformation. That is SATtalks.org. And you can find us at Significantmatters.com. All the videos are on S.A.T. talks, and then the stuff that we do is on the Significant Matters website. There are a lot of great videos. You’ll be inspired. Bob Lupton did a talk on Economic Missionaries, that is just an incredible story, and there are some really exciting stories, and that’s what we were trying to do and through S.A.T. talks. We can do this.

Gary: Nancy Mitchell did one on Caring for Kids and she was on our podcast not too long ago. 

Tom: The reason we pulled Nancy, she’s one of the key practices in our Mission 3.0 framework on championing collaboration. There are a lot of organizations that talk about collective impact. But Caring for Kids and Avenue of Life, in the Kansas City area, are the two that I would say best exemplify a pure picture of what the collective impact model is trying to get at.

Gary: Well, Tom Bassford thanks for being our guest today on the B.L.E.S.S. podcast and helping us to think beyond “care.” I love it when people think about pray, care, share, and start with their neighbors as you said, their Jerusalem. That’s the right place to start, but it can’t be the place to end.

Everybody may not end up in their Samaria or the uttermost parts of the earth, but they can be a part of a church or part of a mission that does. I want to go back to what you said; expose, engage, and redemptive entanglement—that’s the process. Everybody can say I want to be a part of that.

We often teach people to pray, “God, break my heart when the things that break your heart.” That’s the exposure part, but it can’t stop there. Everybody can be engaged at some level of serving. The redemptive entanglement is a great place to begin to understand the complexities that you mentioned. As we are redemptively entangled, we’re going to see sustainability and transformation are something that’s even beyond what I’m doing with redemptive entanglement. That’s the more extended run or longer view.

So thank you for that. It helps give perspective to our listeners.

Thanks for listening to the B.L.E.S.S. podcast. Like it, share it and subscribe. Let’s broadly tell this story. Thank you for your participation and let’s join Jesus where he is already at work, where we live, study, work, and play.

Donna: Thanks for joining in today for the B.L.E.S.S. podcast. People often ask what do the letters stand for in B.L.E.S.S. We like to think of B.L.E.S.S. as a lifestyle where we–B, begin with prayer. L–listen to God and others. E–eat together. S–serve and S–story; sharing your story and the story of Jesus. 

We not only pray that every home in America will be adopted by a disciple who lives this lifestyle but also those that do, will join their efforts to build missional communities where we live, learn, work, and play. If you haven’t yet signed up for Blesseveryhome.com, you can go there now.

You can find more from host Gary Kendall including ways to connect outside of this podcast at LoveKC.net. Thank you for being a part of this B.L.E.S.S. podcast today. We invite you to subscribe, to like it, share it, and write a review. Now let’s join Jesus where He is already at work.