Renewal. we draw our inspiration from the conversion and example of St Francis of Assisi who was specifically called to the ministry of renewal in 1205, as Jesus spoke the words to him, “Francis, can’t you see? My Church is in ruins. Rebuild My Church.” His example also forms our theology and pedagogy for renewal.
The term 'renewal' can seem loaded as it does assume the Church is need of repair. Even if we were to agree that this is true, we may not always agree as to what new work God might be doing, versus what should remain as it is (or has always been). This tension is okay; because our focus isn't on debating these points but simply inviting God to lead us to repentance as the pathway to renewal.
At The Francis Project we see renewal as an ongoing process that has always been at work in the life of the People of God. We return to God over and over again as we repent and believe, to be nourished, redirected, corrected, refed and refilled. This pattern is sacramentalised in our return to the Eucharist; a process designed to be repeated over and over again. Similarly St Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church to "go on being filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5.18). And to the Roman Church he wrote, to be continuously "transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12.2)
Renewal isn't about throwing out the old, but rebuilding what has become stuck, tired, forgotten, worn-down or wounded. As Thomas of Celano wrote of St Francis in 1229, "A shoot of the ancient religion suddenly renewed the old and decrepit." (2C I)
Giotto, Renunciation of Worldly Goods,