Norm & Liz Silcock
July 2011 - Issue 2

Liz and I were both raised in great, stable, but non-Christian homes. Liz became a Christian as a teenager but had little follow-up teaching. We met at Teachers College in Hamilton and married in 1969. We have four daughters, one son and six grandchildren. I became a Christian at age 39 after Liz had had a revival in her faith and our marriage had come under pressure because of my 'anti-Christian' stand. We attended the GLO Bible College near Te Awamutu which changed the whole direction of our lives - firstly as missionaries in Samoa (1995-2000), then as Pastors at Raleigh St Christian Centre (2000-2010). Since the beginning of 2010 we have been re-commissioned and commended by RSCC to a ministry of support and encouragement to smaller Assemblies, particularly in the East Coast, King Country, Taranaki and across to Dannevirke areas.

Our overseas and New Zealand experiences tell us that there is little difference in our "life purpose" whether we are in New Zealand or any other country. Our belief is that as Christians we are all required to be part of God's missionary endeavour in whatever country, whatever capacity, whatever age. It is also our belief that the Church is God's most powerful instrument for outreach when it is functioning according to its Biblical profile.

A very encouraging trend we see is the willingness of some of the larger urban area Assemblies to take responsibility to help smaller Assemblies, through the provision of speakers and even Pastors and additional families. This could be extended to include the promotion of New Zealand missionaries who would undertake to live in an area, with the long term commitment to support, encourage and rebuild an Assembly where that is needed. This requires some wisdom from all concerned, as a common feature in the demise of Assemblies is a period of faithful, loyal but legalistic leadership. If that leadership is still entrenched, it is difficult to see how the testimony, outreach and congregation could be rebuilt.

We get the impression that often there are as many committed Christians "outside" the Church as "inside". It seems that a number of people have unresolved conflicts with their local church that the leadership has been unable (or unwilling) to address. Paul gives us sound advice, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

We have been constantly amazed at the amount of "work" that is done per head of congregation in our smaller Assemblies. It seems that in these Assemblies more than 90% of the people are involved in Bible in schools, Rallies, various outreach activities, maintenance of the Church buildings etc. In these places where often age is becoming a difficulty the role of a "missionary" couple or individual could be to provide the energy to follow up on the effective contacts being made. One of the most effective outreaches we have observed was to simply put out a notice one Sunday a month saying "Free meal at 6pm tonight" which was followed by a short Gospel talk. Most of the people (30-70 turned up) were within walking distance of the church and some have started attending on Sunday!

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