The essence of program evaluation involves sound reasoning about the linkages between good evidence and good conclusions. Internalizing the material in these books will provide a basic evaluative mindset grounded in sound reasoning regarding transformational development. Then you can read any text on evaluation theory and methods to increase your knowledge about evaluation within a Christian worldview. Or you can review evaluation texts you have read from a more holistic perspective.
If you are thinking about participating in an evaluation course or a course of study in evaluation, I recommend you read these texts carefully before you begin. I propose that your effectiveness as an evaluator of Christian programs will be directly related to two primary factors.
- Your spiritual maturity is a critical factor. You must be deliberately practicing spiritual disciplines that bring you closer and closer to God and deepen your commitment to doing what God created you to do. The books in this list may or may not be helpful in this regard.
- Your reasoning ability as a Christian embedded in a secular culture is the other critical factor. Evaluation text books and courses are secular. Prepare yourself to learn how to do evaluation work without giving up your Christian identity.
I have listed the books in the order I suggest you read them. Read as directed through prayer.
Myers, Bryant L. (2011). Walking with the poor: Principles and practices of transformational development. (Revised and expanded ed.). Maryknoll, New York USA: Orbis Books.
This is a comprehensive discussion of community development principles and practices situated within a Christian worldview. It provides a variety of perspectives to use in planning any evaluation of a transformational development program.
Moreland, J. P. (1997). Love your God with all your mind: the role of reason in the life of the soul. Colorado Springs, Colorado USA: NavPress.
Sound reasoning is at the core of program evaluation. Reasoning as a Christian is at the core of spiritual formation. Thinking as a Christian while doing evaluation work is essential for understanding transformational development outcomes. This book will help you do that.
Moreland, J. P., and Craig, William Lane. (2003). Philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview. Downers Grove, Illinois USA: IVP Academic, InterVarsity Press.
This is not easy reading. In my view it is essential reading. “Enlightenment naturalism and postmodern antirealism are arrayed in an unholy alliance against a broadly theistic and specifically Christian worldview. Christians cannot afford to be indifferent to the outcome of this struggle. … The gospel is never heard in isolation. It is always heard against the background of the cultural milieu in which one lives. … False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the receptions of the gospel” (pp. 1-2). The material in this text will help you identify false ideas and counter them with sound ideas from a Christian perspective.
Moreland, J. P. (1989). Christianity and the nature of science. Grand Rapids, Michigan USA: Baker Book House.
Evaluation texts on theory and practice are embedded in various science worldviews. Clarifying the relationship between science and theology is critical to figuring out how to think as a Christian while doing sound evaluation work. This text will help you do this.
Fournier, Deborah M. (Ed.). (1995). Reasoning in evaluation: Inferential links and leaps. New directions for evaluation, No. 68. San Francisco, California USA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
This brief volume has seven articles on reasoning as an evaluator that will introduce you to concepts and a body of literature for continuing to improve your reasoning skills throughout your career.