Mid-March, I (Kristy) felt a nudge from God to apply to Renovaré Institute for Spiritual Formation. I have been interested in Renovaré for a few years and have regularly listened to their podcasts, participated in their book club, and received their weekly digest. The application process involved completing an application and having people submit a character reference and a pastoral reference. Next, I had an online interview with Carolyn Arends, the Director of Education for the Institute, recording artist, author, speaker, and college instructor. Then, I waited and prayed and prayed and waited. I found out a few weeks ago that I was accepted! In a prolonged time of uncertainty, this has been a huge blessing.
You may be wondering, “What is Renovaré Institute?” It is a two-year online and in-person school that focuses on experiencing God and God’s Kingdom in the here and now. It involves book and article reading, spiritual formation practices, and four residencies (two per year), all while deeply embedded in a spiritual community. The Institute was started by Richard Foster. He is best-known for his book, Celebration of Discipline. Dallas Willard, a Christian philosopher and my hero, who passed on just over five years ago, helped Foster start the Institute as a founding board member.
The Institute is built around Foster’s six streams from his book, Streams of Living Water. The six streams are contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational. These are all expressions of a ‘God-soaked life’ (to borrow Chris Webb’s book title). If you are interested in learning more about the streams, click here. According to Renovaré Institute’s website, the curriculum is also centered around six questions: (1) Who is God? (2) What is the Gospel? (3) Who am I? (4) Can we really hear from God? (5) Is it actually possible to become like Jesus? (6) How do we cooperate with God in his desire to transform us?
You may also be wondering, “Why participate in Renovaré Institute?” I have been interested in Christian Spiritual formation for a number of years. In 2015, I co-led a spiritual formation’s small group for women. This is what I want to do in France for the French church. As far as we’ve been able to surmise from God’s allowance, we will not be going to France this next year, so it gives me time to participate in Renovaré for the first year. If God allows us to go to France the following year, I will fly back to attend the remaining two residencies. They take place north of Chicago (only a five and a half hour drive from us in Ohio). I have also deeply desired and sought out Christian mentoring for the past five years to no avail. I believe this program along with the faculty and community will provide what I need, along with my spiritual director.
Another question you may have is, “What will I be able to do with my education from Renovaré Institute?” First and foremost, I am doing this program to grow closer to God. But inward growth isn’t meant to stay contained. We grow for others. There are a number of programs that have a partnership with Renovaré, such as Fuller, Portland Seminary, Westmont, as well as Friends University, which is just down the highway from my hometown in Kansas. I will be about 15 hours shy of a Master’s degree once I complete the Institute. At Friends, I could complete the degree online. Depending on the institution, I can get a degree in Spiritual Formation or Spiritual Direction. I am a writer, so most likely, I will also incorporate what I learn into a book(s), possibly nonfiction.
I am very excited about God’s provision in this. Would you join me in praying for the following: my time spent in the Institute; my kids and husband, who will miss me the week I’m gone this Fall; for God to provide the means to pay for the Institute; and that God would show me how he wants me to use my experience in Renovaré. Thanks, friends.