Monthly Archives: April 2014

The world will contest discernment

Many Christians defer to the science worldview as they consider the value of a program evaluation. Believing that there is a form of truth outside prayerful discernment, they may ignore or object strongly to evaluation conclusions based on practicing spiritual discernment.

There are at least three possible consequences when this happens. First, information about the activity of God regarding the program’s influence in the community may be omitted from an evaluation report, or not even sought. Rather than witnessing to the activity of God and how program participants can engage in it going forward, the evaluation report becomes another pebble in the stone wall that has been erected against truth coming into the community.

Second, the evaluator who uses spiritual discernment during an evaluation may lose credibility with stakeholders. They may insist that the purpose of evaluation is to identify cause-effect propositions about what in the program works and doesn’t work for achieving stated objectives. They will describe spiritual exercises as personal matters that are not appropriate in a program evaluation.

Third, the evaluator may experience assurance that evaluation can be a form of ministry. When the world objects to evaluation findings that are supported by verifiable evidence and not contested by the Holy Spirit, the powers of darkness have been threatened. They will try to prevent illumination of that aspect of reality described in the findings.

Lord, I know that following you in my evaluation work will be challenged in many ways by those who want to follow you but on their terms rather than yours. Help me see such challenges as blessings; as opportunities to draw closer to you and to intensify my commitment to transformative evaluation. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Jesus Way

Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, has written a book, The Jesus Way (Eerdmans, 2007).  He describes the various ways that Jesus lived, and contrasts them with the ways that we in consumption-driven societies live.  It is a provocative book from which we can learn a lot about transformative evaluating.

Following Jesus is a full-time vocation.  [Highlight this statement, underline it, write it on a post-it to put on your mirror, put it in the footer of your evaluation plan, etc.]

I cannot take time out to do an evaluation that is not consistent with the Jesus way, and then go back to following Jesus.  I either do an evaluation while following Jesus, or I don’t follow Jesus.  This means that everything that I do in planning and implementing an evaluation must serve life in the kingdom of God.

What is one example of something you have done in an evaluation that is not consistent with the Jesus way?  Talk with God about it, and listen carefully to what God says to you about repenting.  Receive God’s forgiveness; you will be blessed in the kingdom way.