Ren­o­varé has passed the 25-year mark. We have a new pres­i­dent and a strong board. We are sta­ble and peo­ple are opti­mistic and enthu­si­as­tic about the future. 

At this junc­ture I am utter­ly con­vinced that Ren­o­varé will live on and on. 

How­ev­er many good things are cur­rent­ly with­in the orga­ni­za­tion, my state­ment of con­fi­dence comes from some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent. Ren­o­varé is not about an orga­ni­za­tion; it has nev­er been. Ren­o­varé is about equip­ping a movement. 

Gen­tly, qui­et­ly, and some­times sub­ver­sive­ly, at their best the peo­ple of Ren­o­varé have been liv­ing and teach­ing the real and present avail­abil­i­ty of God’s King­dom. This involves a prac­ti­cal strat­e­gy for spir­i­tu­al growth (the spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines), a bal­anced vision for our eccle­si­ol­o­gy (the streams), and help­ing peo­ple become formed into the like­ness of Jesus Christ (spir­i­tu­al formation). 

In the last three months I have been speak­ing on for­ma­tion top­ics in South Korea, Cana­da, and Eng­land, as well as the Unit­ed States. (It’s not near­ly as cool as it sounds, my sched­ule just sort of worked out that way). I return from my trips encour­aged by what I have seen. The work is hap­pen­ing. Some­thing has been birthed. 

Of course it’s always messy. We are human after all. We have an uncan­ny abil­i­ty to dis­tort and tar­nish near­ly every­thing we touch. But, in spite of it all, God is at work. 

It is impos­si­ble and com­plete­ly unnec­es­sary to try to cal­cu­late the glob­al impact the spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion move­ment has had. Cer­tain­ly we’ve seen for­ma­tion orga­ni­za­tions, class­es, pas­tors, writ­ings, degree pro­grams, and resources pop­ping up all over our coun­try and around the world and cer­tain­ly some things are more help­ful than oth­ers. How­ev­er once again, it is not for­mal struc­tures or insti­tu­tions that encour­age me; it is the peo­ple and the values. 

Now, I don’t speak for­mal­ly for Ren­o­varé. I’m not involved in the day-to-day oper­a­tions or the deci­sion-mak­ing process­es. But, I have been watch­ing and lis­ten­ing for the bet­ter part of the last 20 years and I want to tell you what I have wit­nessed. I want to talk about the val­ues with­in the val­ues, the infor­mal cul­ture, because what real­ly excites me is when that pops up in places. 

I like hear­ing my dad, Dal­las, and oth­ers quot­ed. It’s fun for me; it’s nov­el and even sen­ti­men­tal. How­ev­er, it is when the words are accom­pa­nied by deep, heart-felt, life-trans­form­ing val­ues that make me aware that some­thing tru­ly spe­cial is brew­ing. Of course Ren­o­varé has done well to artic­u­late their for­mal val­ues, but here are a few I’ve noticed lurk­ing in the background.

Self-Preser­va­tion Rejection 

Peo­ple often strug­gle to pro­nounce the name Ren­o­varé. No sur­prise — it’s Latin. The name means renew­al,” which may well be the most fit­ting descrip­tion of its vision. My moth­er actu­al­ly came up with the name, and my father liked its com­plete lack of brand­ing appeal. When I asked him about the deci­sion to name the orga­ni­za­tion Ren­o­varé” he sim­ply smiled and said, I didn’t want it to turn into some com­mer­cial enter­prise.” My dad kept a four-inch mod­el cor­po­rate jet with the Ren­o­varé name and logo on his desk. For him this stood as a con­stant reminder of what we must nev­er become!”

Few know this, but when my dad met with the attor­neys to reg­is­ter Ren­o­varé as a 501© 3 non-prof­it he tried to apply a death date” so that on a cer­tain date the orga­ni­za­tion would dis­band and give away any resources it had accu­mu­lat­ed to a like-mind­ed group. Appar­ent­ly this was not pos­si­ble. Ful­ly aware of the ten­den­cies of insti­tu­tions to lose sight of their orig­i­nal focus, my dad was try­ing to pro­tect Ren­o­varé from itself. 

This is the gen­tle and inten­tion­al spir­it of not try­ing to build our own king­doms and insti­tu­tions. It is for­go­ing the big­ger is always bet­ter” mantra and thus giv­ing into the fear-dri­ven seduc­tion of self-preser­va­tion which seems to so often per­me­ate the deci­sion-mak­ing process in our structures. 

Counter Cul­tur­al

The with God-life” often calls us to ruth­less­ly seek to elim­i­nate hur­ry from our lives. This val­ue has played itself out many times with­in orga­ni­za­tion­al process­es and deci­sion-mak­ing. Of course, the results through­out the years have var­ied, but for the most part it has enabled the orga­ni­za­tion to nego­ti­ate shifts and changes prayer­ful­ly and inten­tion­al­ly. There tends to be a pref­er­ence to err on the side of mov­ing too slow rather than too fast.

You’ll notice through­out the years the breadth of resources the orga­ni­za­tion has pro­duced is fair­ly lim­it­ed. My under­stand­ing is that this has been some­what inten­tion­al, a sort of rejec­tion of a con­sumer cul­ture that is con­stant­ly ask­ing for more, more, more. 

From its incep­tion Ren­o­varé has freely giv­en ideas away. For many years Ren­o­varé events cul­mi­nat­ed with the launch­ing of spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion groups, the mate­r­i­al always urged peo­ple to be free to call their groups what­ev­er made sense to peo­ple in their con­text, again a push to avoid brand­ing and orga­ni­za­tion­al building.

Dal­las was noto­ri­ous for telling peo­ple that if he said any­thing of val­ue that oth­ers should be free to use it, stat­ing that if it was of val­ue it prob­a­bly didn’t come from him any­way. Cer­tain­ly many have tak­en him up on this gen­er­ous offer. 

Rela­tion­ships Matter 

I think it’s safe to say that there has, at the least, been an under­cur­rent to favor oth­ers over self. This sort of thing is near­ly impos­si­ble to find in our cul­ture, but by and large, indi­vid­u­als with­in Ren­o­varé have reject­ed the cul­tur­al norm of jock­ey­ing for posi­tion and rather have sought to pro­mote each oth­er. Speak­ing is almost always done in teams, and peo­ple are select­ed for their lives and con­tent rather than their social or pub­lic position.

At its heart Ren­o­varé is high­ly rela­tion­al. Hence, when pos­si­ble I’ve noticed a favor­ing of the small gath­er­ings where con­ver­sa­tion and con­nec­tion can occur. 

No mat­ter how messy it can some­times be, there is def­i­nite­ly a pur­pose­ful­ness to build and cul­ti­vate hon­est and open rela­tion­ships, both with­in the min­istry team and among the larg­er dis­persed com­mu­ni­ty of Renovaré. 

Old Books

Not many orga­ni­za­tions have cham­pi­oned the read­ing of old books quite like Ren­o­varé. Of course the focus hasn’t been on old for the sake of old, but rather books that are engaged in, as my dad says, the great con­ver­sa­tion about the growth of the soul.” The rich­ness of the great col­lec­tion of devo­tion­al clas­sics has been a huge influ­ence on much of Renovaré’s writ­ings, think­ing, and speak­ing. Rather than turn this into a sort of intel­li­gence snob­bery, there is an attempt to focus on how read­ing a book slow­ly is help­ful in the for­ma­tion of the indi­vid­ual and com­mu­ni­ty, instead of just plow­ing through a text and mark­ing it off a read­ing list.

Inclu­sive in Nature 

When Ren­o­varé first began, it was near­ly unheard of in Amer­i­ca for peo­ple from var­i­ous dom­i­na­tions to work close­ly togeth­er. Its found­ing vision of teach­ing across denom­i­na­tions remains. There seems to have always been care and con­cern to be just as inclu­sive of gen­der and race.

Holy Gai­ety

One thing that I can always count on in Ren­o­varé gath­er­ings is lots and lots of laugh­ter. Often things can turn down­right sil­ly. It has taught me an impor­tant fact: saints laugh, saints have fun. I’ll nev­er for­get Emi­lie Grif­fin hand­ing out umbrel­las and lead­ing the min­istry team in a play­ful march through­out the build­ing and out the door singing Oh, When the Saints Go March­ing in.” Why umbrel­las? I don’t remem­ber. But, it was fun.

The Teach­ings In-between Words 

Renovaré’s teach­ings have been so impor­tant to many of us. To me, the val­ues tucked in the mar­gins, the words between the words are as impor­tant as the teach­ings. It is the spir­it of Jesus per­me­at­ing what we do. Ren­o­varé is not about pro­duc­ing writ­ten mate­r­i­al or see­ing how many Dal­las quotes we can recite. It is about life with God. It is about char­ac­ter for­ma­tion into the like­ness of Christ. And this is tru­ly a joy­ous undertaking.

I am ful­ly con­fi­dent that Ren­o­varé as an orga­ni­za­tion has many fruit­ful years ahead and I am hope­ful it will remain rich and vibrant in its con­tin­ued ser­vice beyond our life­time. But in a very real sense, it doesn’t mat­ter because the teach­ing and the val­ues of this with-God life are out there. Call it what­ev­er you want. Start new pro­grams and orga­ni­za­tions and close down old ones. Hon­est­ly, I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly care what name lives on because some­thing much greater has hap­pened, some­thing far beyond any par­tic­u­lar per­son or book or orga­ni­za­tion. And, it is found in the whis­pers of lives gen­uine­ly trans­formed by the pow­er of God. It is for this rea­son that I say with full con­fi­dence that Ren­o­varé will live on and on and on. 

These val­ues reflect an inten­tion­al­i­ty to con­duct its affairs in a high­ly Chris­to­cen­tric man­ner. I remain so thank­ful to all those who have part­nered with Ren­o­varé and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions through resources, com­mu­ni­ty, prayer, and finan­cial help. In so doing you have all helped to light the tails of the fox­es and set the world ablaze. 

We’re glad you’re here!

Help­ing peo­ple like you abide with Jesus is why we post resources like this one. Always ad-free, Ren­o­varé is sup­port­ed by those who know soul-care is vital. Would you join us?

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