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Transformational Development

Transformational Development Conference

Food for the Hungry is sponsoring a conference at George Fox University on August 14-16. Would love to attend, but can’t right now. Can someone else go and blog here on what they’ve learned? As I read thru the description of the term “transformational development,” I found it related to our vision and mission for Families for Africa. Read thru the excerpt below. It will help us learn to become “true agents of transformation” in our adopted countries.

A world movement has gained profile recently whose stated goal is the end of extreme poverty. With growing optimism its champions assert that advances in development science and technology make this a realistic possibility for this generation (Sachs 2005). As Christians we respond to the much older call to live out the Kingdom of God and embrace a deeper hope in Christ’s redemption of the world.

Our goal is more than just the absence of extreme material poverty, but for people to discover their true identity as children of God and recover their true vocation as productive stewards faithfully caring for the world and all the people in it (Myers 1999).

  • How then should our faith integrate with the ways we both engage in and educate for international development?
  • How do we go about development in a posture of Christian witness, responding in obedient faith to the only true Agent of transformation?

Transformational Development is a term that many are quick to use to describe their programs, organizations and interventions. Christian academics and practitioners use the term to signify a holistic integration of faith and development and to distinguish it from models that are secular or simply dichotomist in their application. The terminology, while helpful, has not yet resulted in consensus around the criteria for, frameworks of, and proven approaches to doing transformational development. The danger remains that unless we can differentiate between what is and is not transformational development, it will be just another Christian label used to justify whatever we happen to be doing.

If we say we are in the business of transformational development then we must acknowledge the demands placed upon us by the promise the term connotes. The goal is positive change in the whole of human life materially, socially and spiritually (Myers 1999). It is not sufficient for evangelism and social involvement to occur simultaneously. Our gospel proclamation has social consequences, and our social involvement has evangelistic consequences (Campbell 2005; the Micah Declaration on Integral Mission).

Transformational development’s distinctives should be found across the spectrum, impacting not just motivations but operations, not just where we go or send but the posture with which we walk.

Transformation suggests an end-to-end focus, not just on the poor whom we seek to serve but the poor who are doing the serving. And it promises radical ongoing change in not just our scope of activities but also our outcomes aligned with sound biblical theology.

We seek to move beyond definition to interpretation of transformational development, building sound academic foundations for both those engaging in and educating for Christian development.

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