Building Big (Part 1) – The Early Days with Terry Virgo

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  • Terry first got saved at the age of 16 after visiting John Stott’s church and hearing him clearly preach the gospel.
  • This was followed by a season of backsliding. Terry was at a good church, but between the ages of 16 and 20 his life was entrenched in a lot of ungodly behaviours.
  • Terry then heard a sermon and felt God saying ‘I want your life and I want it now – and this is the last time I will talk to you about it’.
  • This completely changed Terry’s life.
  • After this, Terry began reading lots of biographies of great men and women of God.

Home Fellowship

  • At the time, there wasn’t much community in the church. People came, listened and then went home. None of the Biblical ‘one anothers’ were happening.
  • Terry met a guy who was starting a home Bible study and he joined the group.
  • The approach taken in this Bible study was to believe every promise and obey every command.
  • There were about 8 people in the group. Within a year, everyone had been filled with the Spirit (which was quite an unknown thing at the time).
  • At this point, Pentecostals were treated as outsiders by the mainstream church.
  • ‘Revival’ was a respectable thing to pray for amongst evangelicals.
  • Terry was warned off the Holy Spirit by some church leaders, but eventually he was filled with the Spirit.

Leaving a Secular Job

  • Terry was called by God to leave his secular job.
  • He felt challenged to more devotion and more prayer.
  • He would meet up with a couple of other people to pray every morning and would spend the afternoons evangelising door to door.

Bible College

  • About this time, Terry felt God give him a promise – ‘I will bring you back’. This seemed strange as Terry wasn’t planning to go anywhere.
  • God then led Terry to go to Bible college in London.
  • Whilst at Bible college, Terry met Wendy, who is now his wife.
  • They went to a great church – made up of people who had been recently filled with the Spirit. People travelled in for it from all over London.
  • There was a dramatic sense of the presence of God There was lots of prophecy and healings.
  • This was a very formative time for Terry. He didn’t feel as though he could go back and be a baptist pastor.

Pastoring a Church

  • Terry was invited to lead a pioneering church in Seaford. He said that he would lead them but would do so in a charismatic way. They said that if he led them from the Bible then they would follow.
  • Terry and Wendy began praying for people that they would get filled with the Spirit, and one by one they did.
  • There was a lot of opposition, but gradually things began to open up (Terry tried to introduce ‘open worship’)
  • The opposition was both external and within the meetings. Terry had to fight against a religious atmosphere and ‘horizontal praying’.
  • A prophet came in and prophesied that those who opposed the work of the Spirit would be removed and that young men should prepare themselves for ministry.
  • He saw the tide coming up the beach and three men stood trying to stop it – but they can’t stop what God is doing.
  • Over the next few weeks one of the key opponents died, another left his wife and ran off with another woman and the third lost his temper and stormed out.
  • The young guys came through and the church radically changed. It meant they could lead it in the way they wanted to.

Rethinking Theology

  • A friend of Terry’s held an annual new years prayer meeting and Bible week where people would pray for revival and preach.
  • Through this, Terry began to connect with others who were like minded throughout the country.
  • It was here that he first heard about the Ephesians 4 ministries.
  • He began to rethink his eschatology.
  • He started to discover the church – both the local church where God is immediately present, and also the glorious church to which all of history is tied.
  • Some people would say that the church’s biggest problem was evangelism, but at that point in history, evangelism’s biggest problem was the church.
  • They needed new wineskins in order to be relevant to their generation, and also to make room for the Holy Spirit.
  • When they began starting new churches, people were very hostile to it.