"Perpetual spiritual infancy does not please God nor does it honor Christ," says Richard Foster, founder of the spiritual formation movement Renovaré. "The fact is," continues theologian and Renovaré team member Dallas Willard, "our existing churches and denominations do not have active, well-designed, intently pursued plans to accomplish discipleship in their members. You will not find any widely influential element of our church leadership that has a plan—not a vague wish or dream, but a plan—for implementing all phases of the Great Commission." According to Willard, Renovaré is a simple, grounded way for followers of Jesus to mature in their faith.
Richard Foster and Dallas Willard met more than 30 years ago at a Quaker church in Woodland Hills, California. Little did Foster, then a young pastor, and his congregant Willard, a philosophy professor, realize that three decades later they would become two of the most acclaimed contemporary writers on Christian spiritual formation.
Foster speaks with a great deal of fondness of the early days of their friendship and church life together. "I was fresh out of seminary when I took this little Quaker church," recalls Foster. "I had great ideals, ready to convert the world by tomorrow, and yet they were very patient with me. Dallas led the music and his wife, Jane, played the organ; they were very special days." Foster spotted Willard's brilliance very early on. "When I spoke to the congregation people listened," Foster remembers with a laugh, "but when Dallas spoke they brought their tape recorders." In that church they learned how to pray with people and that the kingdom of God is good news to the lost and faint of heart. This early church experience was the seedbed for dialogue about the spiritual life that eventually led Foster to write his contemporary classic Celebration of Discipline.