At a recent Renovaré Institute residency, Richard Foster and Nathan Foster joined us for a few Q&A sessions on the streams, the disciplines, and spiritual formation. One of our students asked Richard Foster where Institute alumni fit into the greater Renovaré story. Richard answered her as follows:

A vision for the Institute

The Institute was one piece of a very large puzzle. The importance for the institute was that we just needed to give some substance, some teaching, and that’s where this came about. The last thing that I did for Renovaré [as president] was to try to envision this—what you’re having now—but it was very important that it not depend upon me.

And let’s look at what happened: All of this … Here’s Carolyn [Arends, our Director of Education] now and Gary Moon before … all of this without me … and, you know, they push me in on my little wheelchair and I wave at people …

Nate interjects: Is that a prophetic word?

Richard, chuckling: It’s pretty close to already here.

So, the purpose of the Institute is to give some substance to the people of God in a teaching way—but now remember this is just preparation for all you do. What we always said was, our little motto was, “we want to light the tails of the foxes and let ‘em go.” We were referring to the Old Testament passage [Judges 15:4-5], of course. And always we let ‘em go! So, we’re here [today] to light a few tails—and say "Go for it!"

Now, what’ll happen next, how it will fit, how it will work … it’s not our business anyway. God will take care of it and take care of you and—so then you take whatever has come and see what can happen.

Work of a lifetime

I’ll just give you this: In the early days—this is so funny—I was down in Costa Rica teaching, and all I had was about three sheets of paper. That was Renovaré: three sheets of paper. And, you know, I taught all this stuff at the mission, the Language Institute, and here’s 150 or so people training in languages for their work.

After a bunch of teaching on balance, vision, all this stuff, one guy raises his hand. He asks, “Now, what if I take what you have given us and so on, and I take it down to Argentina, and I start teaching this stuff and doing this stuff and never ever mention Renovaré? How will that make you feel?”

And I smiled.

And I said, “Oh, that would be so wonderful! Because then, if anyone has a problem, they will come to you and not to me. [pause] Because we light the tails of the foxes and we’re letting them go.” And there you go.

So, the point of the Institute was to give some substance to what we were working on in a little more depth. Now you’re going to have a lifetime to work on these things.

Letting God do what God wants

We think Nate summed up this freedom of cooperating with God in our own spiritual formation quite nicely once Richard was finished: That is a product of life with God—trusting God with people and not having to micromanage or manipulate. Letting God do what God wants to do with people.

The Renovaré Institute is a discipleship school that uses the lens of spiritual formation to discuss what it means to follow Jesus and abide in him. Over two years, students are immersed in ideas, practices, and invitations to help them learn to follow Jesus more intentionally. Applications are currently being accepted (due by April 1st) for our Chicago Cohort, which begins in August 2018. Learn more here.

Transcript of an audio recording made at a Renovaré Institute residency in Attleboro, MA on November 72017.