Church-Planting among the Unreached: Gritty Wisdom from Brad Buser (Part 2)

Brad Buser and his family spent twenty years among the unreached Iteri tribe in Papua New Guinea. They learned the language, translated the New Testament, planted a church, and trained indigenous elders before leaving with their work accomplished. Here are points 6-10 of his course lecture entitled “Ministry Team Startup Talk.” Part 1 contains points 1-5.

6. Realize that there are many ways to handle things. Don’t let small issues come between you. See them as issues that need to be decided but held at a distance.

  • “Did you have to shoot that dog?”
  • “Why can’t we pay more than the going wage?”
  • “I don’t want a team generator.”
  • “I don’t want a team language office.”
  • “I want an electric fence around my house.”
  • “Give shots or pills?”
  • “This phoneme is a V, not an A; this other one is an I, not an E.”
  • “We must teach literacy this way.”
  • “I need to be the translator.”

Seek answers that show a compromise. Be careful, guys — don’t let these things divide you. Maintain a fervent (not necessarily gushy) love and value for each other. Fight against making everything a lofty issue. Get familiar with the phrase, “I compromise.”

7. Learn to speak without generalities: “you always… leadership never… TAC is only…” Generalities box your partner or others into an image that’s not true. Be specific and controlled. Don’t just open fire. Reckless words hurt and can’t be taken back. Lazy speech comes back at us in time and is something the Scripture speaks volumes about.

8. Know that finding replacements for your team is tough. You’re new now, not in two years. Don’t toy with the idea of “If he leaves it’s no big deal; we could get past it.” Those thoughts happen and are just wrong. You don’t go to test the waters. You go in and you stay. Stay. Leaving early is a huge deal. Don’t plan on people leaving. Surround yourself with reasons not to turn back. Find godly friends who won’t let you turn back.

9. Help your wives grow out of being your biggest defender to being honest brokers with you. Teach them to value the shots that come from brothers who love you. Let them know that you need their honesty more than their sympathy. This is not natural and takes time. But it brings real maturity and 4- or 6-way growth and strength to a team. Most missionary fights are with wives. Let the shots come. You want to be godly before you want to be pain-free. Think the best!

10. Be willing to share your lives with each other. It may not be realistic to have your [ministry] partner as your best friend. But being able to enjoy your years of service and your partners and not just endure them must be seen as a non-negotiable. Purpose to work through, compromise both ways, and look beyond (not focus on) anything that keeps you from enjoying your partners. Love does cover a multitude of sins… but being willing to talk and discuss can help to lessen the load of things one must overlook.

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