From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a November 2005 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

Dear Friends,

My con­cern in this pas­toral let­ter is to write to you about the vision and mis­sion of REN­O­VARÉ. In one sense I am talk­ing out loud with you, for our entire REN­O­VARÉ Team is right now work­ing togeth­er on this sub­ject with the hope of ham­mer­ing out a sub­stan­tive posi­tion paper on the mat­ter. We would love to hear your thoughts.


The REN­O­VARÉ vision is sim­ple and straight­for­ward: a life of flam­ing love for God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:30).

  • It is a vision of gen­uine, sol­id, sub­stan­tive life in the king­dom of God, avail­able to you and to me. Here. Now.
  • It is a vision of the con­tin­u­ing, expe­ri­en­tial real­i­ty of right­eous­ness and peace and joy in the Holy Spir­it” (Rom. 14:17).
  • It is a vision of Jesus high and lift­ed up draw­ing all peo­ples to him­self (John 3:14).
  • It is a vision of us con­stant­ly return­ing to our first love, Jesus … and falling in love with him over and over and over again (Rev. 2:4 – 5).
  • It is a vision of an ongo­ing form­ing, con­form­ing, trans­form­ing life in and through Jesus — a trans­for­ma­tive char­ac­ter devel­op­ment into Christlikeness.
  • It is a vision of rad­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty life; an all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons gath­ered in the pow­er and fel­low­ship of theTrini­tar­i­an presence.

This is a vision of LIFE. For you. For me. And I urge you: nev­er leave off pur­su­ing this life. Though it be dif­fi­cult, seek hard after it. My friend, you can learn to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. You can learn to love your neigh­bor as your­self. You can learn to love your ene­mies. You can learn to over­come evil and to do what is right. Believe me, you can learn these things. We here at REN­O­VARÉ are com­mit­ted to help­ing you find just such a LIFE.

To be sure, this life is not auto­mat­ic … though God bestows innu­mer­able graces upon the earnest seek­er. Still, devel­op­ing and sus­tain­ing a life of lov­ing aban­don­ment to God involves an over­all plan of liv­ing, incor­po­rat­ing spe­cial prac­tices that care for the inner per­son. These are the famil­iar dis­ci­plines of the spir­i­tu­al life. These we put into reg­u­lar prac­tice: prayer and soli­tude and study and ser­vice and wor­ship and con­fes­sion and cel­e­bra­tion and more.

Through all of life’s vicis­si­tudes we must nev­er allow any­thing to replace this vision of white-hot love for God. It is our first and last order of busi­ness. Noth­ing is more impor­tant than this. Noth­ing. Not good deeds. Not faith­ful ser­vice in the church. Not even mis­sion­al labor in the name of Christ. Noth­ing. Love God alone. Adore God alone. Wor­ship God alone. Be blind­ed to all oth­er loyalties.


If our vision is sim­ple and straight­for­ward, the REN­O­VARÉ mis­sion is com­plex and mul­ti­fac­eted. It is a mis­sion deeply root­ed in Jesus’ com­mis­sion­ing words to his dis­ci­ples: All author­i­ty in heav­en and on earth has been giv­en to me. Go there­fore and make dis­ci­ples of all nations, bap­tiz­ing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spir­it, and teach­ing them to obey every­thing that I have com­mand­ed you. And remem­ber, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18 – 20). This three­fold task of dis­ci­pling” and bap­tiz­ing” and teach­ing” is essen­tial, and essen­tial in that order.

The dis­ci­pling” task brings us to the point of deci­sion … deci­sion to live under the king­dom rule of Christ. This is an act of will, a choos­ing to become Jesus’ stu­dent, his appren­tice. It is also the action that turns us from being crea­tures dead in our tres­pass­es and sins and makes us alive to God (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 6:11). As his stu­dent we are now enrolled in the School of Christ 247. As his appren­tice we fol­low the Mas­ter Jour­ney­man; lis­ten­ing to what he says, watch­ing what he does, and seek­ing to live our lives as he would live our lives if he were we. All author­i­ty is giv­en to Jesus and as his dis­ci­ple (stu­dent or appren­tice) we are yield­ing to this authority.

While phys­i­cal bap­tism is a right and good ini­ti­at­ing action, bap­tiz­ing” involves a whole lot more than just get­ting peo­ple wet. It involves our being immersed into the com­mu­ni­ty life of the tri­une God — Father, Son, and Holy Spir­it. We are being bap­tized into the real­i­ty of the Trini­tar­i­an pres­ence. As Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus, so we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us (John 17:21). We are bap­tized into the life described in Chap­ter 14 of John: par­tic­i­pa­tion with Jesus as the way to the Father and the truth about the Father and the life of the Father, and par­tic­i­pa­tion with the promised Holy Spir­it who is the Spir­it of Truth and who abides with us and in us.

It is only after expe­ri­enc­ing the real­i­ties of dis­ci­pling” and bap­tiz­ing” that we are ready for teach­ing.” This involves learn­ing to come into the con­form­ing real­i­ty of obey­ing every­thing Jesus com­mand­ed. No small task, to be sure, but a task in which Jesus promis­es to be with us right up to the end of the age. This is the work of spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion which is so inex­tri­ca­bly tied to the work of evan­ge­lism. Frankly, it is often the great omis­sion” from the great com­mis­sion.” But the good news of the evan­gel is that a formed life real­ly is pos­si­ble, that we tru­ly can learn to obey him in all things. Not per­fect­ly and not auto­mat­i­cal­ly, but pure­ly and ful­ly as we learn to walk in the Way of Christ day by day. Accom­plish­ing this demands Spir­it-inspired, Spir­it-dri­ven teach­ing. REN­O­VARÉ seeks to pro­vide just such teaching.


A move­ment is afoot today. It extends far beyond REN­O­VARÉ and can be seen in sem­i­nar­ies and col­leges and church­es and hosts of seek­er groups every­where. In more recent years it has coa­lesced around the con­cept of spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion,” and it express­es the deep yearn­ings of peo­ple for a life of spir­i­tu­al sub­stance. All of this could go in many dif­fer­ent direc­tions, but in its Chris­t­ian expres­sions there is gen­uine hope for indi­vid­u­als and church­es to find a sure foot­ing in char­ac­ter for­ma­tion in Christ­like­ness. REN­O­VARÉ has been the pio­neer in the mod­ern spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion move­ment, and I see our future role here in three ways.

First, we need to fuel the grow­ing spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion move­ment. Speak­ing and writ­ing, con­fer­ences and retreats, sem­i­nars and train­ing ses­sions, all aimed at con­tin­u­ing to fuel the movement.

Sec­ond, we need to resource the grow­ing spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion move­ment. Church­es need coach­ing and con­sult­ing; indi­vid­u­als need teach­ing and spir­i­tu­al direc­tor train­ing; emerg­ing church expres­sions need his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive and wise coun­sel. And more.

Third, we need to mod­el a unique com­mu­ni­ty life for the grow­ing spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion move­ment. In our recent ven­ture into East Africa Glan­dion Car­ney was asked how our REN­O­VARÉ Team could pos­si­bly func­tion togeth­er with its immense diver­si­ty of denom­i­na­tions. His answer, When we gath­er togeth­er it is like heav­en!” And it is, it tru­ly is! Oh how we need mod­els of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and uni­ty, com­pas­sion and car­ing, vig­or­ous social min­istry and lov­ing, respect­ful evangelism.


REN­O­VARÉ has always sought to light the tails of the fox­es and let them go” (see Judges 15:1 – 8), and so we ful­ly expect the ideas and vision for life that we encour­age will go far beyond our actu­al orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­tures. This has already occurred and we desire its increase.

In addi­tion, we have tar­get­ed five major geo­graph­ic areas for pen­e­tra­tion. Since we began in the States we estab­lished REN­O­VARÉ USA as a mod­el for the pen­e­tra­tion of all of North Amer­i­ca. While we have been at this for a while there is still much for us to do, espe­cial­ly when we con­sid­er Cana­da and Green­land and Ocea­nia and the many island coun­tries in and around the Caribbean Sea.

Next, we estab­lished REN­O­VARÉ Britain and Ire­land to func­tion as a mod­el for the pen­e­tra­tion of all of Europe. They are now a reg­is­tered char­i­ty in the UK with full inde­pen­dence and with an entire­ly British/​Irish board. I con­tin­ue to go across the pond as I can, but the bring­ing of the REN­O­VARÉ mes­sage to Europe is real­ly in their hands. And, believe me, they have their hands full.

REN­O­VARÉ Korea has been in for­ma­tion as a mod­el for the pen­e­tra­tion of all of Asia. I have just returned from being with a com­bined gath­er­ing of Kore­an lead­ers from the U.S. and from Korea. The meet­ings were exhaust­ing … and glo­ri­ous. In their Board gath­er­ing (thrilling to par­tic­i­pate in) they made the deci­sion to begin the process of being ful­ly inde­pen­dent of the U.S. Board. They even want a REN­O­VARÉ Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence to be held in Korea and we are look­ing into the fea­si­bil­i­ty of this. I will be going to Korea with a team in the fall of 06 and again in 07. We even have some con­tacts and pos­si­bil­i­ties for for­ays into North Korea. These lead­ers are high­ly vision­ary and ener­getic. Do pray for their efforts.

Our 2004 trip to Africa was most encour­ag­ing. In June we brought Anas­tase Rugi­ran­go of Rwan­da to the States to meet with us. I was deeply moved by his pas­toral skill, his deep com­mit­ment to Christ, and his abil­i­ty in artic­u­lat­ing the REN­O­VARÉ mes­sage. In Novem­ber I will meet with Peter Mutisya of Kenya from whom I expect to learn much. Could these be the future lead­ers who could spear­head a REN­O­VARÉ East Africa effort that might be the mod­el for the pen­e­tra­tion of all of Africa?

A fifth con­ti­nent is in our sights though noth­ing firm has devel­oped as yet. I am refer­ring to a REN­O­VARÉ effort in Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca. I made sev­er­al for­ays ear­ly on in Cos­ta Rica but noth­ing last­ing devel­oped. We still await God’s tim­ing here, but we are very much want­i­ng to move in this direc­tion. (Note to the purist: I’m ful­ly aware that Cen­tral Amer­i­ca is cat­e­go­rized as part of North Amer­i­ca, how­ev­er, it seems best for our prac­ti­cal strat­e­gy to think of it in con­junc­tion with our efforts toward South America.)

You can see that our mis­sion strat­e­gy is a large one indeed. But we must not get car­ried away here. We can­not allow the mis­sion to squeeze out the vision. First things must remain first. Mis­sion must always flow out of a deep­er vision and expe­ri­ence of love for God. But, as you see, we sense God call­ing us to large areas of our world as he gives us strength and resources.

Our mis­sion and oppor­tu­ni­ties to serve most cer­tain­ly exceed our means. For this rea­son I ask for your help. In time I would like to call upon us togeth­er to raise a mil­lion dol­lars for each of the five con­ti­nents I have described to you. For now I am ask­ing you to give gen­er­ous­ly, even sac­ri­fi­cial­ly at this year-end. Will you help us? Thank you.

Peace and joy,

Richard J. Foster

Text First Published November 2005

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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