This is the second in a multi-part series of interview clips that Adrian Warnock filmed with Terry Virgo when he was in London with Jubilee Church Enfield.
Adrian: We’ve spoken so far about the first 300 session that was painting the big picture of what the Church should be like. I have to admit I got to the end of that session and I thought ‘What could he possibly speak on in the second?’ It was almost like you had covered everything in one hour! But I loved the way you opened the second. You just stood up and said something like this: “To have a Spirit-filled Church, you need Spirit-filled people.” Maybe lets talk a bit about that. Tope what was your take-home message from that second session?
Tope: You know… I thought the second session was extremely helpful, even if you are a Spirit-filled believer and a Spirit-filled church. If you’re a leader, you need somebody to almost help you step by step explain why it is you believe this thing that you believe. Where they are in the Scriptures, with personal experience massaged into the sermon so that you could identify, and I tell you this, to help you explain to your people… and the importance of it in your own life – that’s how this thing works. So it was very practical. It was not wishy-washy. It was based in the Scriptures – I just loved it so much.
I loved the way you started it: Spirit-filled church, you need this. Because I think sometimes we ask the wrong question first. So it was a great session. I tell you something, I said to Terry “Do you need your notes, are they in the car?” And he said “No, I’m fine.” These are not just doctrines memorised as sermons being brought out – it’s a life being lived. And so it was easy to just talk about it and we were all just enraptured by the whole thing.
Terry: I certainly love to speak about how I can see Biblically the place of the coming upon of the Spirit. And I think when Jesus said it to his follower they were from a Jewish background – they knew Old Testament characters who had known the Spirit coming up them and transforming their lives. I’m sad when people say ‘at conversation the whole thing is done’, because what about that ‘coming upon’? How come Gideon got so transformed? How come Elisha said ‘if I don’t have that power, how can I do what you did?’ That to me is such a real tangible thing. How could these scared fishermen turn the world upside down if they didn’t have the same power that rested on Jesus? So just to interpret a few New Testament verses ‘I’ve got it all’, it manifestly doesn’t work.
And I think we’ve got to see the difference between what I would call a ‘contemporary’ church and a ‘charismatic’ church. So I think some people would say ‘Oh, we’re a charismatic’. But what do you mean? ‘We have modern songs, we have guitars, we have overhead – we are charismatic’. No, no no! We are talking about people filled with the presence of God, which yes, does affect the way we worship, but we’re not simply talking about a charismatic style of meeting, we’re talking about a meeting deeply rooted in the word. And so we would preach the word for an hour and so we really go through the truth all the time. But we are also looking for the presence of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we need to teach people. In the main I find Christians are shy, they’re not always pushing themselves so they need to be encouraged into engagement with the Spirit – but how do I do that? How does this gift work? We need to lovingly shepherd people into life in the Spirit and understanding that all of this comes under the Word of God. We’re not going to run away, we test all things by Scripture. But we’re gathering to the presence of God. So we anticipate He will make His presence known.
Adrian: I tell you what I love most is this whole thing of the corporate and the individual coming together. I think often those are so separate. And so I know one thing you mentioned that you would like to have had a bit longer to talk about if you had was about the prayer life – and particularly the prayer life of the leader. I know this is something that people have often asked you about and I know you sometimes don’t like to say too much. But can you just talk a little bit about what you, over the years, what personally it’s been like for you? How have you walked with God faithfully all these years? I think it was Driscoll who said about you that you still like God. When not everybody does, apparently, according to him.
Terry: I’m glad, really, that you combined reference to corporate prayer and personal prayer. I think there is a strong inter-link. And I’ve been encouraged that although the book has only been out a little while I’ve had letters from people saying ‘you’re chapter on leading a church in prayer has been so impacting’. So I’m encouraged.
I thank God I was saved from a non-Christian background but I joined a Baptist church where the pastor was a man of prayer. He was a man of the word and he was a man of prayer and he was a man for missions. Now probably we do church almost exactly different to the way he did church. So at our meetings and so on he wanted me to wear a clerical collar – I mean a very different world, but prayer – that man taught me to pray. Loving the Bible – that man taught me ‘Love the Bible, that’s the authority’. Mission – world mission. I learnt so much kind of subliminally although the outward way I’ve done it completely different. But those values – so I learnt to pray. I feel that over the years I’ve had that influence from godly men and from the early years. So it was fundamental to me right from the beginning that prayer was the key. I read a lot of missionary biographies – Hudson Taylor is a huge hero of mine. J. O. Fraser, and George Muller, the man from Bristol – I love reading stories of men who prayed and just seeing the power of it. And really, J.O. Fraser was just pragmatic – he said, like a business, ‘I’ve found a line that works so I’m going to give my best energies to it.’ I mean that’s just pragmatism – it works!
And then you read about Praying Hyde and Jim Simbala in Brooklyn and you just feel like ‘I want to pray and I want to get a church that prays’ – gather people to pray together. So it’s been a motivation for me, it would be a motivation for me to pray each morning. Tope and I had just a wonderful time this morning, just praying, I don’t know, for an hour or two just enjoying the presence of God. Just wonderful! And with a Bible there, I’ve just been nourished by some truths in the word and just began to share and ‘woah let’s pray’. And the sense of God being there – some people say ‘Oh, only two or three turned up… let me just pray for a little while’. I think ‘Two or three – it’s wonderful!’ God’s here. So to pray is just really heart and soul of everything for me.