Check out Richard Foster’s article in Christianity Today about his three priorities for the next thirty years.
Foster believes that Celebration of Discipline(a classic) succeeded in reviving the conversation about the formation of the soul but was much less successful in making this incarnate in the experience of individual, congregational, and cultural life. Thus, Foster points to what he believes needs to happen in the next thirty years for this to come to life: Individual renewal, Congregational renewal, and Cultural renewal.
I was thrilled (though not surprised) to see that a major focus in his discussion of congregational renewal was on fellowship and communal formation. He explicitly refers to Philip Jacob Spener’s collegia pietatis and John Wesley’s society, class, band structure.
I think Foster is basically right on, many people seem to give lip service to the importance of spiritual formation – even communal formation, i.e., small group accountability – but there often seems to be a discrepancy between our words and our actions. The early Methodists understood the importance of communal structures for individual formation and accountability. May Methodists once again lead the way in showing how to “watch over one another in love” so that we are known not just for what we believe, but for what we do – for how we live.