Interview with Terry Virgo – A vision for the church

This is the first in a multi-part series of interview clips that I filmed with Terry Virgo when he was in London with us. You will enjoy, and for those without broadband, a transcript of the video will also be shared.

Edited Transcript:

Adrian: Hi I’m Adrian Warnock and I’m here with Terry Virgo and Tope Koleoso. It’s a pleasure to have you both here. Terry, I came under your ministry back in 1978 or something ridiculous like that, and I’ve known Tope since 1995. So I’ve known you both a long time and it’s wonderful to have you both in the same room.

Terry, you’ve been with us for ‘300’ and also today at Jubilee so I thought I would just ask both of you how that came about? How do you decide what to do? You must have a lot of calls on your time, how do you prioritize things and what you felt coming amongst us, really?

Terry: Thanks Adrian, it’s great to be here. I’ve enjoyed my weekend enormously. We work relationally. Most of the time we work with people we know. I know Tope well, I know what he’s doing and I’m delighted that he’s gathering leaders. I count it always a huge privilege to speak to leaders. I’m grateful that they are willing to spend time on a busy Saturday and take out time. So it was good, thrilling to be with them. I know you’ve already been having these meetings with some excellent speakers – John Piper, Jack Hayford, so it’s a privilege to be invited. I was glad to be here. I’ve enjoyed and I felt I was able to serve. I was happy to speak about the Spirit-filled church, which I have just written a book on. So it was great to be on that theme, which I know has stirred me and I feel strongly about that.

Then it was great to be with the church today. I’ve especially enjoyed the church – terrific family, multinational, very friendly and warm. It’s hard to move away because people are so responsive. So it’s been a wonderful weekend.

Adrian: When Jack Hayford was with us he said “You look out on Jubilee, you see the world.”

Terry: Yes.

Adrian: Tope, how’s it been for you as a Pastor of this church, having Terry here?

Tope: Terry is a father to me its been good to have him amongst us. The church by God’s grace has been growing pretty well, so it is always good that new people can come and get caught up in this. Having Terry here is just wonderful, it’s a joy. It really is a joy and we get lots of time together. As people travel around so much everybody’s in their world and when you have those moments together, it’s just great. Yesterday to just have him speak…and the talk, a lot of it was hung on this question – it was like God asking “What house will you build for me?” And just the way when he started, the way it came at me, it was like actually… it was like God asking this! And our tendency as leaders is to ask “what kind of church do I want?” Wrong question! What house does HE want? And then we begin to find out what are the components that He says these things must be there. And to have that spelt out – it was just a challenge actually.

Adrian: I’ve been around a long time and I’ve heard you talk a lot. But I think I’ve never heard a vision for the Church portrayed as clearly as it was in that first session yesterday. I obviously was going “Yes, yes, yes!” and in a sense it was stuff that I’ve heard before but that is encouraging – when someone comes in you think “Well, that is kind of what we are trying to build.” At the same time it was fresh, it was compelling. And I think since we relate obviously with others from elsewhere, and that’s a good thing, sometimes you can almost begin to back-peddle about your own values and think ‘well, this is perhaps not a gospel issue’ I mean ‘These guys are doing it differently but they’re going to Heaven’ and so we almost back away. But I felt for me personally, yesterday, just a renewed sense of ‘Hey! Actually, what we do, we don’t do just because it’s the way we’ve always done it or because it’s New Frontiers – it’s Bible stuff!’ And that was where I was coming from. How did that vision come about for you?

Terry: I guess over a period of time, to be perfectly honest. I think when I was introduced to an experience of the Holy Spirit, which revolutionized my Christianity it was like knocking over the first domino. In view of that, well, then that must be reviewed, and that must be reviewed. So it took me back to the Scriptures again to investigate. I thought ‘Why do we do that then, because the Scripture says this?’ So yesterday we looked at Acts 13, at the Antioch church, which surely must be some kind of a model. And Stephen as he is preaching, comes up with that statement in his long apology and says “Solomon says, ‘What kind of house will you build for me?’” And then you find that the people associated with Stephen flee through persecution, they come to Antioch and they build a house and you get a revelation there in Acts 13 what that house was like. And so we’re asked what were the ingredients? And so we looked at those various ingredients of the prophetic, the teaching role, the involvement of Barnabas, the multinational, and the mission. There’s so many aspects just in a few verses, really.

So over the years, these values have been more and more impressed on us and we’ve started, what I would call really, a new wine skin to embrace the fresh touch of God’s presence with us, but loving the truths that we’ve always believed.

Adrian: Yes, it’s a funny thing isn’t it? Sometimes people say ‘hang on a minute, you talk about Biblical truth!’ You’ve been reformed since the 70’s, 60’s and beyond, it isn’t a new thing being a reformed Charismatic, of course it isn’t. And there’s a lot of people that would share that sort of love of the Scriptures, and yet my perception has always been that some people don’t really want to look at what the Bible says the church should be like. They just say ‘We believe the Bible, we love the Gospel, we love the doctrines’ and yet they kind of leave the church as it was, the way they inherited it. Do you think that’s a fair assessment? You’re friends with some of these guys aren’t you?

Terry: Yes, I do. I have great friends right across the body of Christ. I think that great men, in all kinds of worlds, will preach for personal obedience. And preach stunning sermons about ‘Let’s obey God’ but the application is so often just to the individual. You know… ‘are you obeying God in the workplace, in your home?’ etc. I think we also need to obey God corporately about how we do church. And I think often that application is left aside. So I feel that no, we need corporate obedience about how you do church. And so I feel that results in reformation of church. So it’s not just charismatic life – it’s what does the New Testament church look like? And I think it is very relevant to our generation that has come out of, kind of, Christendom background. We’re more like living in a day like Pauls day where people have all kinds of gods. They don’t have Christian background. So we need to be relevant, we need to be vibrant to touch our generation with the gospel and a church life that is impacting. It’s not good endorsing simply ‘Oh we’ve always done it this way.’ Because this generation is not interested in ‘how you always did it’. They need to hear a gospel that is relevant to them today in a setting that they can identify with and the presence of God is fundamental to that.

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