Category Archives: Transformational Community Development (TD)

TD Is Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

Talking about the role of spiritual warfare in Transformational Development makes me uncomfortable. I have an hypothesis, however, that failure to see transformation occur in community development is due in part to failure to understand the role of spiritual warfare in communities. This lack of understanding is an obstacle to seeing and confronting evil forces undermining development efforts to enable transformation. So I am working at preventing my discomfort from avoiding the topic.

The attached file, 1 page, is an initial attempt to describe the role of spiritual warfare in community development. I will prepare more posts on this topic as led by the Holy Spirit; eventually I will explore implications for m&e.

Yancey spiritual warfare

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”


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.

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

Transformational Development (TD) as a Means of Prevenient Grace

Various Christian traditions acknowledge the concept of prevenient or preceding grace. “Prevenient” means preceding or coming before.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline (2004) defines prevenient grace as “…the divine love that surrounds all humanity and precedes any and all of our conscious impulses. This grace prompts our first wish to please God, our first glimmer of understanding concerning God’s will, and our ‘first slight transient conviction’ of having sinned against God. God’s grace also awakens in us an earnest longing for deliverance from sin and death and moves us toward repentance and faith.”

The overall aim of Transformational Development is to alleviate suffering in ways that witness to God’s love for all people. As Christian development agents work alongside project participants to achieve goals and objectives, the theory is that participants will sense God calling them to know about God’s love for them and to respond to it by deciding to love God and neighbor in culturally appropriate ways.

Thus TD is a means of prevenient grace.

Demonstrating Accountability for TD Programs

Different modes of inquiry are needed for demonstrating accountability for Transformational Development programs. In addition to program implementation monitoring. program results evaluation, and impact evaluation there are disciplined reflection, worldview discernment and internal audit. The attached file describes three principles for internal and external accountability and how these modes of inquiry can be applied to answer six accountability questions.  Click 88 MnE for accountability.

Note added September 2017: Programs  that are funded by a grant may be required by the funding agency to host a monitoring evaluation. This is an inquiry exercise conducted by an external evaluator or auditor to determine if the program is in compliance with the conditions agreed by the program agency by accepting the grant and using resources provided by the grant. This way of demonstrating external accountability is not discussed further in this post.

Transformation as Changes in Worldview

T4 Global Ministries describes transformational training as a process that “that leads to a deep, structure shift in how people interpret the world around them, including how they relate to other people, to their environment and to God. Instead of generating only changes in knowledge, attitude and behavior, transformational training generates changes in worldview. It is the kind of change that moves a person or a community from despair to hope, from helplessness to self-reliance, from corruption to trustworthiness.” (, about us)

These are the characteristics of desirable TD results inspired by this vision for transformational training:

  • A deep shift in how people interpret their world, especially regarding how they relate to each other, their environment, and God.
  • Emergence of hope from despair.
  • Emergence from powerlessness of the poor to equitable inclusive power sharing.

TD is development that goes beyond improvement of well-being to redemptive social justice and restoration of individuals as children of God.

Note April 2017. T4 Global Ministries has changed its name to Spoken Worldwide, The description of transformational training stated above is no longer on the website; but the organization clearly is committed to holistic ministry.

Fuller Seminary Students

Posts for Fuller Seminary students are tagged Fuller. Some posts are specific to one class; they will be on the site for a few weeks and then removed. Most posts are permanent. Click on the red tag “Fuller” for recommended posts. This will yield a list of 13 posts on two pages.

Scroll down the search results to the post with links to 6 slide shows. Open the post and use the links to view the six slide shows that give orientation to the critical aspects of TE; then explore other posts according to your interest.

Before class on TE, April 24, 2019, write down three questions or ideas that you would like Frank to discuss.

Zacchaeus Indicators of Transformational Development (TD)

© World Vision International 2006, 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.

The heart of transformational development strategy is in the way development workers interact with community people.  Reflection on the story of Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10, suggests four indicators of transformational development.

Time spent looking for people in trees

One very important indicator of transformational development is the amount of time that facilitators spend looking for people in the trees that are watching them.  Such people want to be involved, but for some reason they think they are too small, or too big, or too shy, or too old, etc.  They look on from the sidelines.  In our frantic efforts to do impossible things with unrealistic deadlines, how much time do we spend looking for the people in the trees?

Number of people called by name

Another indicator is the number of people that a development worker knows by name, and has spent time in their home.  Not to convert them, but to invite them by name to engage developmentally in their community.

Amount of sharing with the poor

Another indicator is the amount of sharing with the poor that is taking place in the community.  Transformational development is all about deepening love for God and neighbor, which has an outcome of learning what the poor need and being instrumental in seeing that it is provided for them.

Visible repentance

Another is the type of repentance that is visible as people come to know that in their condition, whatever it is, they are loved by God.

Understanding Success in Transformational Development (TD)

NOTE May 2019. This paragraph by Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything, pp. 70-71, deserves your reflection. “As long as we are wedded to results, we’ll take on smaller and smaller tasks, the only ones that yield results. If we want to live by values like love, truth, and justice — values that will never be fully achieved — “faithfulness” is the only standard that will do. When I die, I won’t be asking about the bottom line. I will be asking if I was faithful to my gifts, to the needs I saw around me, and to the ways I engaged those needs with my gifts — faithful, that is, to the value, rightness, and truth of offering the world the best I had, as best I could.”

Typically a program evaluator makes judgments about the different ways that a program was successful or not. Understanding the features of success in a transformational development program is essential for facilitating TE.

Cook (1974, p. 13) lists six propositions about success from a scriptural perspective. Because the worldly notions of success are not consistent with godly notions it is important to think carefully about the words that are used to describe the features of success. Cook’s detailed discussion in the book points in directions that are based in Scripture, but he could have indicated this more explicitly in this list. Cook’s propositions are bullet points; my comments are marked with FGC. 

  • God is interested in me being successful, provided my definition of success is correct. 

FGC. God is interested in me being successful in the emerging kingdom of God, which is in conflict with the world. Success in the kingdom is very different from success in the world. God deeply desires that I be faithful to him in all matters; this is the image of success to keep before me. 

  • God should know more about success than anyone that has ever written about success. 

FGC. God knows more about success in the kingdom than anyone that has ever written about success. God in the person of Jesus demonstrated exactly what success looks like. 

  • God has put man into the world to succeed, not fail. 

FGC. God has put man into the world to succeed, not fail, in loving God and neighbor. I succeed in the kingdom as I act with love in all things. 

  • God is interested in our goals – interested in helping me formulate some that would benefit me tremendously. 

FGC. God is interested in how I choose to live my life, and will help me live in a godly way in the fallen world. The benefit of doing this is indescribable joy in all circumstances. 

Worldly success is often defined in terms of achieving personal goals. The problem with ‘achieving’ is the implication that I must work hard, which obscures the fact that devotion is more important to God than effort.  The problem with ‘personal goals’ is the implication that whatever I decide about goals is okay with God, as long as I do not hurt others. 

 Also, this statement is not helpful because an emphasis on benefiting the self is a stepping stone to sinful behavior; it obscures the fact that God’s interest is in being in relationship with me. Although God is always open to me coming to him, even as I pursue worldly goals, God is not interested in helping me achieve them. Secondly, God has promised to provide whatever I need to serve him; it is distracting to wonder about what other tremendous benefits I might receive. Finally, in our culture goal-setting is primarily about achieving selfish ends. What God desires is that I discern his plan for me as his servant, and faithfully follow that plan as circumstances evolve. 

  • God has written a book that contains excellent principles of success. 

FGC. God has written a book that contains excellent principles of success that I can apply in the emerging kingdom from this moment forward. 

  • God knows more about how to motivate man than any other authority in the field. Once he helps in the formulation of our goals, he then provides inner motivation for maximum achievement. 

FGC. God, through the Holy Spirit, knows how to motivate man more than any motivation specialist.

God does not help us formulate goals; God gives me insight into how I can fit into his plan for reconciling a fallen world back to God. Through the Holy Spirit, and only through heeding the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can I do things that fit within the plan. How much I achieve is not really relevant because I do not know how God measures achievement. I know that God desires me to be faithful in all things; perhaps this is what Cook means by ‘maximum achievement’. 

Cook, William H. 1974. Success, Motivation and the Scriptures.  Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

What is transformational development (TD)

Transformational development (TD) is the evaluand for my approach to transformative evaluation (TE). My understanding of TD is based on the detailed description and analysis provided by Myers (1999, 2011)

I see two themes intertwined in TD. The first theme is the role of holistic thinking in planning and implementing TD. Holistic thinking is a mindset in which spiritual realities are inseparably interwoven with day-to-day “ordinary” living. In TD practitioners must think holistically to be influential servants of God for transformation.

The second theme is the conviction that this world is my home (Marshall, 1998). Transformation happens here and now, wherever we are on earth, not in whatever your image of heaven may be.

These themes are developed beginning on page 3, heading Transformational Development Themes, in Evaluating Transformational Development Outcomes on this site.

Engaging in evaluating TD has given me indescribable joy. May your thinking about TD be a blessing to you.

Marshall, Paul. (1998). Heaven is not my home: Learning to live in God’s creation. Nashville, Tennessee USA: Word.

Myers, Bryant L. (1999, 2011). Walking with the poor: Principles and practices of transformational development. Maryknoll, New York USA: Orbis Books.