Category Archives: TE Theory

Biblical Characteristics of Excellence

These five characteristics are from, a Christian business blog. Years ago I obtained this material; today I cannot find it at this site. Please share with me materials you consult on this topic.

Excellence begins in the heart; you cannot be ordinary in your heart and extraordinary in your life. Similarly you will not be ordinary in your life if you are extraordinary in your heart. As you seek to pursue excellence, consider the following five characteristics of excellence that are often overlooked.

1. Based In Humility

Excellence cannot occur without humility. A proud man will hide his inadequacies, but a humble man will expose them and seek to excel in his weakness through the perfection of Christ. James 4:6 says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Only through the grace of God and recognition of the fact that we can do nothing apart from Christ can we succeed in the pursuit of excellence.

2. Developed Over Time

No one is born excellent. Instead, excellence is developed over time by experience and the testing of faith. James 1:2-4 tells us that trials produce perseverance and perseverance produces faith – thus making you mature and complete.

Furthermore, excellence is developed in the details. If you do the little things diligently every day to improve, excellence becomes attainable. It’s all about implementation. Plan to be excellent, and then take every step necessary to fulfill that plan.

3. Grounded In Skeptical Inquiry

1 John 4:1 says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” Excellence demands a skeptical inquirer because it is not easily blown and tossed by the wind (James 1:6), therefore enabling you to make sound decisions, pursue only things worth pursuing, and function as a trusted resource in every matter of life. By being a skeptical inquirer, you reduce wasted thoughts, actions, and ideas and focus completely on pursuits of excellence.

4. Complete [Pervasive]

Excellence is not a skill – it is an attitude (Ralph Marston; author of the blog, ‘The Daily Motivator’, “Create Excellence,” July 23, 2007). Excellence is an attitude that touches every area of your life. You are called to be excellent in everything you do (2 Corinthians 8:7). True excellence means you dedicate yourself fully to everything you do, as working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

5. Benchmarks Against Itself

Excellence does not compare itself to others. Instead, people who are excellent benchmark their performance against themselves because they know God judges us not by our harvest but by our seed (Luke 12:48). Don’t look outward to measure your excellence; instead look inward and compare your growth to where you were in the past (Galatians 6:4).

The Big Picture for TE

TE is located at the intersection of a Christian worldview, the profession of evaluation, and approaches to community development.

Christian worldview

  • The ways of Jesus are a guide to practicing TE.

Evaluation profession

  • Within the profession program evaluation examines relationships between resources, processes and outcomes of a program, taking into account the surrounding context and various stake holder groups, as well as comparisons with alternative options.

Approaches to community development

  • Transformational approaches to community development seek sustainable changes among community residents related to loving God and neighbor, and empowerment of the community to influence social structures, systems and institutions for the common good.

Create a Venn diagram, TE Venn, that shows the intersections of the three circles that represent the three elements. Think about the features of each intersection; how does this inform you about the nature of TE?

This Venn diagram shows my thinking about the intersections. Venn Diagram for TE

Go to this post for six slide shows that provide an orientation to essential features of TE. Transformative Evaluation Overview–6 Slide Shows

Defining Transformation

I have described my understanding of “transformation” in an earlier post. This post is a brief description from a slightly different perspective for a secular audience, and two brief descriptions for a Christian audience. The third description was added in May 2019.

First description…Transformation is change in the deepest part of one’s being that puts loving Creator of all universes and every neighbor, known and unknown, at the center of one’s worldview.

Personal Transformation is initiated by the Creator of all universes. Engaging in transformation involves:

  • Becoming aware of how my beliefs, attitudes, ways I interact with others are harmful to facilitating transformation in others.
  • Replacing obstructive practices with non-obstructive ones. Typically this will require dependence on the Creator for guidance and strength to sustain various changes in beliefs, attitudes and practices. A Spiritual Director can help with this.
  • Taking care of my own sets of needs for the purpose of being better prepared to enable and encourage transformation in others (putting on their new self and living out of it minute by minute).

Second description…Transformation is much more than change. Transformation is profound holistic change at the root of being. A transformed person is sustained by kingdom values. A transformed society is sustained by kingdom values. Any individual or social change that does not involve living by kingdom values is not transformation.

One outcome of Transformation is more clarity on one’s true vocation as children of God. That vocation is to be more loving and just in their relationships with self, with each other, with the community, with God, and with their environment.

Another outcome is willingness to confront evil in their personal lives and in the community. Suffering that restores right relationships is an integral part of transformational development; Jesus on the cross is an essential image for understanding transformational development.

Third description… Selwyn Hughes, British evangelist, described transformation as a lifelong continuous process of being released from the deadly disease of unbalanced preoccupation with self (Every Day With Jesus, January 02, 2006).

God’s goal for those who accept God’s invitation to be fully human is that they should become like Christ in their character. (See 1 John 3:2.) This is the essence of transformation. This is the work of God in the world; to restore us fallen beings to the original image of God; to transform us.

Transformative Evaluation Overview–6 Slide Shows

This post contains links to six brief slide shows that provide orientation to five distinctive features of Transformative Evaluation. The shows are in PDF format.

The big picture for TE is shown in this brief post. I recommend viewing the post before looking at the orientation slide shows.  The Big Picture for TE

94orientation1 TE overview…Brief description of each critical feature of TE. Includes a group exercise to see if people in an agency want to explore implications for the agency.

orientation2 core belief2018…Description of the core belief that justifies TE as an approach to evaluation for a Christian agency. This presentation was updated 11/28/2018.

orientation3 TE theory of program change JAN 2019…Description of the theory of change in individuals and institutions for transformational community development (TD), which is the primary evaluand for TE. TE is developed by Christians for Christians who facilitate TD. This presentation was updated 01/22/2019.

94orientation4 TE overview…One critical feature of TE is aligning evaluation practices with Christian worldview. The concept of objectivity is given special attention. There is a more detailed description of objectivity at objectivity-in-te.

94Orientation5 Mission Results in TE…Description of mission results that can be achieved through TE.

Orientation6 Spiritual Disciplines in TE JAN 2019…Description of use of four spiritual disciplines in TE.

Search for other posts related to topics that interest you. As always, constructive critiques are welcome.

Evaluation Model for TE

I have developed a general framework for comparing different approaches to evaluation. The framework is based on seven aspects of an evaluation exercise.  

Note February 2017. Click this link to see the framework; continue reading for an application of the framework to TE. Evaluation Model as a Concept

In this paper I describe those seven aspects of a particular approach to evaluating a transformational community development program that I call transformative evaluation (TE). I also contrast the TE description with the analogous aspects found in some other approaches to evaluation. There may be common features between approaches but I emphasize those features that set TE apart from other approaches.

 My model for TE is not carved in stone. Each time I prepare it the result can differ in some aspects from previous presentations. But the seven elements of the framework remain constant. In April 2015 my summary of the model is:

 Transformative evaluation examines transformational community development programs. The primary focus for TE is to facilitate deeper understanding of what really matters in community development, with emphasis on development programs as a vehicle for facilitating individual and social transformation from within a Christian worldview. Primary stakeholders, including representatives of faith groups in the community, participate with the evaluator in making major decisions throughout the exercise. The evaluation design and implementation are consistent with a constructivist paradigm for inquiry along with principles for thinking and acting holistically.

This file describes the TE model in detail.  LINK: 78Evaluation Model for TE for evalFrank2 It may take several careful readings before you feel comfortable in summarizing the primary features of the model and contrasting them with other evaluation models.

This file is cited in the detailed file for the model. LINK:

Frame for Thinking about TE

The attached file is a detailed description of topics to consider while thinking about Transformative Evaluation. There are four sections in the paper.

The first section describes the nature of a conceptual frame as an outcome of frame reflection by which people explore how their own actions may worsen contention, contribute to stalemate, trigger extreme pendulum swings, or move toward pragmatic solution.  It was developed by Schon and Rein (1994) as a way of resolving intractable policy controversies.  I apply this concept to create a frame for transformational development (TD), which is the primary evaluand for TE. Then I describe a frame for exploring TE information needs.

The second section describes implications of TD theory for evaluation design.

The third section discusses the characteristics of development workers that should be considered in planning TE. Since the effectiveness of TD is dependent on how the development worker interacts with community residents and stakeholders, this is an essential element of TE.

The final section describes some examples of TE frames.

Various aspects of this paper may need to be studied several times before you believe that you understand it. I welcome your comments, suggestions and challenges to the substance, as well as suggestions for presenting the material in a more understandable way.

LINK Frame for TE

Sin and Grace in Transformative Evaluation

Updated May 2019

“I {God} have created a beautifully ordered world: one that reflected My perfection. Now, however, the world is under the bondage of sin and evil. Every person on the planet faces gaping jaws of uncertainty. The only antidote to this poisonous threat is drawing closer to Me. In My Presence you can face uncertainty with perfect Peace” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, May 26).

Examining the dynamics of sin and grace in a community development project is a unique feature of Transformative Evaluation. To review the features of my approach to TE see “Defining Transformative Evaluation.”      Click  LINK

I have posted a discussion of the nature of sin and grace on this site, along with some considerations for planning and implementing TE.       Click 67Sin and Grace

Also I have posted interview or conversation  guides and a list of scriptures to help us develop this aspect of TE in more depth.

Click conversation guide sin

Click conversation guide Grace

Click 67scriptures sin and grace

See also various meditations posted on the site that are tagged “sin” or “grace”.

I pray that you will challenge some of my ideas about this critical area so that I may understand it at a deeper level.

Principles for Holistically Planning an Evaluation

I define planning holistically as figuring out what God intends for me to do that enters into the work that God is doing around me.  If I am planning an evaluation, what is it that will bring glory to God through the evaluation work?  What is God already doing in what I will evaluate, and how will doing the evaluation enter into that?

The attached file describes four principles for planning an evaluation holistically. Briefly the principles are these.

 1. Base your plans on Scripture.

In a holistic planning process the participants meditate on appropriate Scripture passages throughout the planning exercise.  Weave this meditation throughout the activities of the day and week as a constant reminder that consistency with God’s word is essential for any plan called holistic.

2. Focus the plan on relationships.

Focus holistic planning products and processes on the quality of relationships, with special concern for holiness in those relationships.  Holiness, not shallow piety.

 3. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

A holistic plan describes the context, or the bigger picture of reality, for implementing a particular project.  Such a plan describes how intended results will enable individual and social transformation. Transformation, not just better conditions.

 4. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead the process.

Planning holistically is much more than filling in the boxes in a chart.  It is learning about what God intends for you, and for those around you.

I welcome your comments and suggestions.  Click link for detailed discussion: 65Holistic Planning Principles

Five Principles for TE

© World Vision International 2007, All Rights Reserved.  No part of this document or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author.

These principles were inspired by the study materials for Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby and Claude King (Lifeway Press, 2007 revision).  This post is a summary of the principles. A paper is available with scripture reflections for the principles; post a comment to request a copy of the paper.

1. Truth is a person

The foundational principle is that truth is a person, not a set of empirically verified set of cause-effect relationships. 

In John 14 Jesus describes this principle, which is briefly stated in John14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  That is, truth is experienced in personal relationship with Jesus, not in understanding the causes of effects in the physical or social realms.

2. Engaging the will is more important than increasing knowledge

Transformative evaluation is more about engaging the will of partners (stakeholders) than adding to their knowledge.

Traditional evaluation often is viewed as the collection and organization of knowledge to help stakeholders make better programmatic decisions.  In transformative evaluation the emphasis is on facing difficult truths in love with the will to live by God’s truth.

3. Analysis is discernment

Analysis of information is guided by spiritual discernment. 

Typical data analysis in traditional evaluation involves examining sets of observations or information shared in interviews for common themes that are related to the evaluation objectives.  Although this is done to some extent in transformative evaluation, emphasis is placed on discerning what God is doing in the situation evaluated, or what God is revealing about Himself or His purposes or His ways in the situation.

4. Transformative recommendations point to the holistic core of programming

Transformative recommendations describe adjustments stakeholders need to make to align program work with what God is doing. 

This is counter to the view that recommendations involve improving program effectiveness or efficiency from a worldly perspective.  Implementing a recommendation may lead to more effective or efficient programs, but only if it is aligned with what God is doing through that program.  Transformative recommendations are based on God’s purposes, not our previous plans.

5. Evaluator competence is more than technical expertise

Transformative evaluator competence is defined in terms of spiritual maturity as well as technical expertise.