Monthly Archives: January 2017

World Vision Resources for TD

World Vision (go to www.WVI.org) is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. It is a large complex organization that has produced many tools for facilitating, monitoring and evaluating Transformational Development. Full disclosure: from 1985-2011 I worked as an evaluator in WVI, and was involved at different levels in developing some of the tools in their early versions.

I recommend that you explore the large number of resources that World Vision has made available to anyone involved in some way with community development intended to create opportunities for individual and social transformation as revealed in scripture. Go to http://www.wvi.org/development-programmes

I will highlight some resources from a TE perspective in other posts.

 

Exercise: Understanding Spiritual Discernment

The attached file is an exercise to assist people to clarify their understanding of spiritual discernment. The file was revised 26 JAN 2017.

103 Understanding Spiritual Discernment Feb

It can be used by evaluation team members to facilitate consensus on data collection and analysis for this aspect of an evaluation.

It can be used with stakeholders as the evaluation is planned.

It can be used to facilitate use of spiritual disciplines that guide the activities of the evaluation team.

May your ministry be more pleasing to God as you develop deeper understanding of discernment, and internalize discerning practice.

Accord Network: Principles of Community Development That Can Create Opportunities for Transformation (TD)

In 1978 twelve agencies formed a network based on this vision: “all Christian relief and development professionals and agencies base their initiatives on biblical principles and work to re-engage the Church in holistic ministry among the poor and needy.” The network incorporated in 1978 as AERDO (The Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations). In 2010, the membership of 75 agencies voted to change the name to Accord Network.

“At Accord Network we create a community where Christ-centered organizations, churches, and individuals leverage their combined learning to achieve the best in relief and development.

We help our members reach their full potential by operating in community—sharing knowledge, skills, and support with one another. Our members are not limited to their own learning curve—they have ready access to the collective knowledge of 75 organizations that collectively leverage over $4 billion of resources annually.

  • We create standards for high-quality work
  • We learn from each other
  • We advocate in Washington DC for effective development”

~ https://accord.x362.com/about

Accord Network has adopted eight principles of excellence in integral mission. Visit their website for more detail. As an exercise, propose indicators or rubrics for monitoring program planning and implementation against these eight principles.

  1. Our Christian faith is at the center of our identity, motive and manner of being.
  2. We acknowledge the reality and significance of the spiritual realm.
  3. The Church is central.
  4. Transformational practices start with us.
  5. We recognize the whole system of poverty.
  6. In our relationship journey with the church, our local partners, and the community, we enter as guests, co-labor as partners, and continue as friends.
  7. We support local communities and churches in measuring all that matters.
  8. We tell the story with integrity.

May reflection on these principles strengthen your ability to facilitate transformation through your ministry.

Becoming Aware of God’s Handiwork

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork [or workmanship], created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV

My personal reflection (01/14/2017)

In 1965 I was drawn to program evaluation work by complex circumstances; at the time I envisioned myself as a researcher/scholar in the field of cognitive psychology. I applied my research skills to a few small evaluation tasks, but did not see myself as an evaluator.

There was a 15-year period between my initial work and accepting a position where I had major responsibility for evaluation. In that period I experienced a clear calling to serve the poor as a Christian. I knew in my heart that God had prepared me to be his servant; I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior; I did effective work in community development outside my research training. During that period I did one program evaluation and one year of institutional research; otherwise I saw myself as a facilitator of community development through the church.

Twenty years after my first evaluation exercise I was called to serve as an evaluator in a Christian relief and development organization. It took me months of prayer and consultation with my wife to say yes, for it meant giving up my vision of being a university researcher/scholar. For thirty years since that “yes” I have experienced being guided by the Holy Spirit in facilitating evaluation exercises of community development programs. For the past twenty years I have been guided by the Spirit and my spiritual disciplines in developing the theory and practice of what I call Transformative Evaluation (TE).

I humbly see myself as God’s handiwork, poetic workmanship, through guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit fulfilling, with many defects in attitudes and behavior, the divine plan for my life. I am grateful beyond words for God’s love, grace and mercy to be loving God and neighbor through developing TE.

Another kind of handiwork (10/30/2017)

Several years ago we decided to make a cat bathroom. I put linoleum on an unused closet floor for the litter pans. I tried to replace the molding so that it looked like it was done by a good carpenter, because I am not a good carpenter. I used a miter box to saw the ends; I drilled starter holes for the nails so that they were spaced evenly; I used a nail set and then spackled the nail heads; finally, I carefully painted the molding so that you could not see where it was fastened to the wall.

I did this as a spiritual exercise. No one will see it, except the cats and us when we change the litter. And God, who created me to do good works… not as a carpenter, but as a husband to do chores in a way that gives my wife pleasure. I am not a carpenter, but I can do small projects that cause someone to smile. I wonder what other good works God has prepared in advance for me to do?

Your personal reflection

I invite you to prayerfully reflect on your understanding of God’s handiwork in you, being open to prompting from the Holy Spirit.

Understanding Sustainable Community Development (TD)

This post is an exercise to facilitate understanding of community development sustainability from the perspective of an agency’s mission. During a workshop staff members can complete the exercise individually, and then the group can identify common threads in the responses and reflect on implications for programming. If there are major differences in responses, reflect on the underlying concepts and reasoning. Throughout the exercise participate in appropriate spiritual disciplines. Seek God’s wisdom in understanding this most important aspect of community development.

Exercise…100Understanding Sustainable Community Development exercise

Report Executive Summary: Bottom Line Format

Most program stakeholders expect evaluation recommendations to describe feasible actions that will improve the program evaluated or other similar programs. That is the bottom line. 

This post gives tips for writing the Executive Summary from a “bottom line” perspective where useful results are presented first, followed by contextual information.

It also gives stakeholders tips on what to expect from an evaluator to make the Executive Summary a useful management tool.

Link to 2.5 page document: Post exec summary

 

Importance of Triangulating Evaluators

The value of including stakeholders in the evaluation team has various dimensions.

  • It can increase the usefulness of evaluations if their views and expertise are considered and integrated whenever appropriate. This requires a skilled evaluation facilitator and stakeholder commitment to substantial participation, particularly in analysis and interpretation activities.
  • Participatory evaluation methods can be used to create consensus and ownership in relation to the development activities.
  • Dialogue with stakeholders can help improve understanding and responsiveness to their needs and priorities.

In evaluation work “triangulation” is a fancy word that stands for using multiple methods to collect data, data sources, perspectives and evaluators to develop a more in-depth understanding of whatever is being studied or evaluated. Independent corroboration of a result strengthens its utility for decision making as well as extending our knowledge.

See post on triangulation … Introduction to triangulation

The triangulation dimension is not given the same degree of attention in the participatory community development evaluation literature. Participation by stakeholders can be a critical way of revealing and dealing with bias, and uncovering complexity in how the evaluated program is affecting participants and others.

Triangulation is not evaluation magic. Two common assumptions about the value of triangulation need to be examined closely.

  1. Does it eliminate bias?

The first assumption is that bias will be eliminated in a multimethod design. Although different methods can yield different understandings of the object of investigation it is difficult to conclude that those different understandings somehow neutralize any biases present. Each may not compensate for the limitations.

  1. Does it reveal true propositions?

The second common assumption is that use of triangulation will lead to convergence upon true propositions. Conflicting findings is a typical outcome of using different methods for collecting information especially if there is both quantitative and qualitative information. The evaluator must be prepared to wrestle with ambiguity creatively and to encourage others to do so. Exploration of possible explanations for differences in findings may lead to valuable conclusions that otherwise would not be included. Patton (Qualitative Evaluation Methods, 1980, pp. 329-332) recommends triangulation during analysis of the information, where different teams of evaluators or different members of the same evaluation team use different analysis approaches. Exploration of differences in conclusions may lead to additional insights about the object of evaluation.

Triangulation is not magic, but it can lead to better informed conclusions and evaluation advice.

See post on evaluation advice…  Evaluation Advice

Fear Not When The Lord Is Your Helper

Hebrews 13:5-6; Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon commentary

Hebrews 13:5. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 CHS… You have a grand reserve, therefore. What you have in possession is only a little spending money to use on the road to heaven, but “he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” You may confidently fall back upon the providence of God in all times of straitness and need [dire straits = a very bad situation that is difficult to fix].

 Hebrews 13:6. So that we may boldly [confidently] say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

FGC… Confidence emerges from beliefs held strongly. The strong belief here is that taking risks to do the will of the Lord may lead to consequences that will be difficult to endure. The Lord will be with me, not to lessen the severity of the situation, but to assure me that doing the right thing matters. Following the will of God for my life is more important than anything else.

 If I believe through prayerful discernment that the will of God for me is to promote transformative evaluation in agencies that partner with marginalized groups to transform lives and society in the biblical sense; then I can count on the Holy Spirit to sustain me regardless of what others say about my work. I can learn from what they say. I can continue lovingly with my witness with bold humility, with or without their support, strongly believing that God will use my work for future good. Glory be to God!