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.

2 thoughts on “The world will contest discernment

  1. Frank, I really appreciate this reminder. While I have not yet seen this reality in my evaluation role, I have certainly seen it in my Bible translation role. I was a bit puzzled by one phrase in the post: “…evaluation findings that are supported by verifiable evidence and not contested by the Holy Spirit…” I can make a guess at what you mean by “not contested by the Holy Spirit” but I think I would be more comfortable in my understanding if you expanded that idea, either here or in a separate post.

    1. John, the phrase is awkward. I give an example to clarify what I mean.

      I was asked to visit a project in India that was managed by a small NGO. I was not doing a formal evaluation; I was offering some observations. When the vehicle got to the top of a small rise I saw the village spread out below. It was barren brown except for a patch of vivid green. I discovered that the green patch was a lush garden cultivated by the only Christian family in the area. The family had installed a deep borehole to get water for the garden. Using the borehole dropped the water table so that all of the hand-dug wells that other families used for their gardens went dry.

      The NGO viewed this as successful development based on using technology. I talked with the family. They were proud of their achievement and did not appear to be at all concerned about the side effect on their neighbors. They told me that other families could install a borehole as they had. My interpretation was that powers of darkness were gleeful. The Holy Spirit contested or challenged the conclusion about success.

      Over to you.

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