Terry Virgo on the future of Newfrontiers, transition, but not retiring just yet

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Adrian: So here’s the thing, you look at all of that, it’s all going fantastic. And there are points along the line where there’s been these transitional moments. Like Downs comes then you stop it. Then you have an advance. Stoneleigh comes along and 10 years in you stop it and advance. Now the Brighton conference, and thats now coming to an end. This is the last Brighton conference. But there’s other changes as well. But why would you kind of mess it up? When actually it’s worked so well? You and your friends and there’s a sense in which I know you are going to change the way you are going to relate to New Frontiers organisationally. You’re not disappearing are you? But can you just talk a little bit about that because a lot of people out there, I don’t know that they’re necessarily aware of what that looks like. Thinking both of those who are in New Frontiers who are watching this but also thinking of those who are maybe on the outside, thinking ‘how do you transition a movement’ because you don’t want to wait till you’ve died, I think is that the issue? Hopefully that’s a long way off.

Terry: (laughing) yeah, I would like to think that. I think that life changes, and if a thing is living, it changes. So, I’ve had the high privilege of having 5 children, which has been an immense joy. And you watch them change – they grow, they get married, they have children and everything transitions. That’s what life is like. You can’t hold a thing down, ’No! Stay a child, you were so beautiful as a baby’. It’s wonderful to see them grow. And then you meet Pastors and you see them grow into stature and you think ‘Wow, this is wonderful!’. So over the years you see things changes. Not that we are changing them, because there is life, it changes. And I love the seasons.

I love living in England because one of the things I love about England is that the four seasons are very clear. You can go to some nations where the seasons are a bit lost – it is hot all the year round, which is nice! But I think seasons are beautiful. And you see in England now, we’re into early summer and the trees have suddenly gone green, whereas a few months ago they were just branches and there were no leaves – and you think ‘this miracle of life, changing’. Well, I think, we’re seeing now, I’m seeing young men come through, who were young men coming along and now they’re stature.

It says in Psalm 46 ‘your sons will become fathers’. And I’ve seen that – I’ve seen sons become fathers. I’ve seen guys I remember when they were starting and now I see ‘Boy, look what he’s built. Look at these men who look to him’. And so for me, this transition into multiplication is saying ‘Look all these young guys, they’re all now in a place where they need to take responsibility – fly with that’. And so we’re not trying to preserve an organisation or a movement, Terry Virgo’s movement, ‘We need for find a replacement for Terry Virgo to look after this’. No, no, no! That would kill us! We’ve got life that’s pulsating through and we need to release all these ministries into their full potential. So that’s what we’re in the process of doing – releasing guys, acknowledging them, recognising them.

Now, happily, it would seem that they all still want to keep relating as a band of brothers in what we call ‘New Frontiers’. But they will now take the responsibility. It is already happening. It’s not like ‘Terry Virgo, should we plant a church in . . . ?’ I find out afterwards! It used not to be like that, by now, I hear after it’s happened. And I hear of churches here and other people taking fresh initiatives into China, Mongolia. I mean you name it, people are going. And I don’t initiate everything anymore. People are initiating, they’re doing their own training programs, they are planning their own church planting, they’re gathering their teams, they’re invading new cities. It is long since that I initiated everything. So we’re acknowledging what is happening, and blessing it and saying run with it. So I feel more and more that I’m a bit like a grandfather, rather than a father. I want to father the fathers. I want to keep encouraging these men who are moving to new responsibility. I’d love to be an encourager. I feel God’s given me a call also to reach over the wall, outside of New Frontiers, to make more and more contacts, which I feel God promised me some years ago would happen and I feel is happening increasingly. But also, just let these guys fly! So it’s really more like a natural thing. You know like a tree – a seed falls in the ground and it grows. It’s a living thing.

Adrian: Tope, did you want to say anything more about that? Or ask anything more about that whole transition thing?

Tope: Yeah.. I want to say, you make it sound like England has four seasons. We only have three! We have winter, we have autumn, we have spring. We don’t get summer here! So don’t believe everything….

Terry: We had it last month!!

Tope: Yeah, two days last month – the Lord was gracious to us! Every Sunday I wake up and say ‘Where is the Sun?’ Oh, there it is, Praise the Lord!

People like me, who had the privilege of stumbling into Newfrontiers. I got hold of a tape and I played it in my car and I got undone. And by God’s grace I got put back. It was one of your sermons. And some of the things we had in there, we never knew how to articulate by way of church life. We were glued into this thing by God. So this is a relationship. It wasn’t just mechanically put together. Because it is a relationship, it grows. And I have never felt restricted one bit being in New Frontiers. I have felt very free to say ‘Go do whatever God has put in your heart’. I know that this is where God has put me so it’s a joy for me and we all pray and commit the future in the hands of the Lord who started the whole thing in the first place.

Adrian: Great.

Terry: I’m so pleased to have been able to get the book together – the Spirit-filled Church – lately. I’ve been asked by guys a lot, especially our friends in America saying ‘We need a book.’ So many people asking questions, people like yourself said ‘I heard a tape, what are you actually saying, please.’ I had John Lanferman who heads up what we’re doing in St. Louis ‘Please do a book,please’. He was on to me. So I’m so glad that the ‘Spirit-filled Church’ is out there now, it’s gone off to a quick start. And I hope people now say, ‘Look, this is the sort of thing you’re saying’.

Tope: You’re going the States soon are you?

Terry: September, October, November. I’m out there for three months and then into Mexico in the end.

Adrian: Thank you so much Terry, for taking more of your time than we planned. We ought to feed you really. I did say we ought to feed you first!

Tope: It turns out Terry loves Thai. So if ever Terry is in town, work out the best Thai restaurant and take him there!

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving alongside Tope Koleoso. His book, Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything was published by Crossway, January 2010. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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