Barry Buzza: a faithful father and pastor to his church

By Peter Biggs

Photo: Jennifer Croft
Barry Buzza is the pastor of a thriving two-campus church in the Tri-Cities area of Metro Vancouver. He is also a prolific author, and a columnist for his community newspaper. Northside Foursquare Church - which now attracts around 1,200 people each week - had humble beginnings.

Buzza grew up in a Christian home in Vancouver. He felt a call to ministry at summer camp, confirmed later while attending Life Bible College in Surrey. But by 1977, he was working in the forest products industry, and was struggling with shyness. However, that same year, he had what he describes as a vision - showing him a woman in childbirth. "I knew God was speaking to me about birthing a new church," he said. Shortly after, he moved to Port Coquitlam, B.C. - and began to gather neighbours in his home. He simply prayed with them.

After nine months, the first of many neighbours became a Christian. Buzza's wife Susan began a Bible study with non-believers. By 1979, there was a group consisting of 11 new Christians. The small church began meeting in a school; eight years later, they built a new facility to house 200 attendees.

By 1992, they commenced worship at a second 'campus.'Northside has not been impervious to struggles; one time, 80 members left. Nevertheless, the congregation continued to grow. Talking with Buzza, one is struck by the impression that, while he is a confident and knowledgeable leader, he may still not be fully over his shyness. This is a quality which has likely endeared him to many.

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"Barry is actually not really a 'people person,'" said Terry Janzen, who has worked with Buzza for 22 years as his associate pastor. "It is one of the things that perhaps insulates him from burn-out. Don't get me wrong; he is a great shepherd, and deeply cares about people - but has a remarkable ability to leave the issues at the office."

Buzza also endeavours to motivate believers in other countries. Every year, he travels to the Philippines to teach and encourage Christians. "On his days off, Barry will go into the ghettos or out to remote villages, just to connect with little churches," said Janzen. Six years ago, at age 50, Buzza discovered he had a gift for writing. "It felt like a period of 'convergence' for me," he said. "I was reading a book by Bobby Clinton - where he describes a time in one's life where maturity and skill development are married to opportunity."

Buzza now writes a column for The local Tri-City News. His editor, Richard Dal Monte, commented: "With Barry, we always know we will get a consistent column that doesn't push a narrow view of Christianity. We appreciate him." Buzza's writing output has been both prolific and imbued with pastoral insight.

He takes a variety of approaches in different books. Life Journey is written as a series of letters to his daughter; The Red Thread covers a 52-week application of the whole Bible; Higher Ground is a 12-step program; and Beta is a workbook done as a followup to the popular Alpha course.

One of Buzza's books, Life Purpose, is intended to challenge the reader's self-perception. "God has a path laid out for us, he wants to shepherd us through life," he said. "Life Purpose deals with work, and allows the reader to go through a series of tests to understand better their skills and gifts."

Barry Buzza has learned how to understand his own gifts. But what is most remarkable is that, over almost 30 years, he has seen the promised birth of a baby church in his own neighbourhood - and overseen its growth into a unified and mature expression of the body of Christ.

Barry Buzza, is also president of the The Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada.

October 26/2007