Charles Siburt is the “go-to guy” when it comes to healing churches, fixing church leaders, maturing disciples along the Way. He has worked with countless Church of Christ congregations, scores of elders and shepherds, and more preachers than any of us could count. He’s written books and articles, preached and taught sermons and lessons, and in some way counseled and advised almost every church leader I know.
I was blessed to spend three hours with Charles in two separate phone conversations in June last year. I wanted to find out what he knew about this Central Church of Christ in Amarillo. Turns out, he knew everything. And everybody. He gave me some things to consider. He cautioned me about a couple of potential problems. He probed into my own issues and problems like we had known each other for years. He dug deep to find out where I was spiritually, emotionally, mentally. But mostly he just went on and on about how great this church was. How healthy the leadership is here. How unified and focused and committed the elders and ministers are here to lead the church family in living and growing in Christ-likeness.
I remember a preacher friend of mine telling me after my first conversation with Charles, “If Charles says that’s a healthy church, you can know without a doubt it’s a healthy church. Charles knows a healthy church.”
At the end of my second and last phone conversation with Charles — I was sitting in my truck in my driveway in North Richland Hills, Charles was in some airport somewhere — he told me, “I think you and Central would be a perfect fit; you’re made for each other.”
That night I told another preaching colleague what Charles had said. He replied, “If Charles says it’s a good fit, then you know it’s a good fit. Charles knows how to match preachers and churches.”
They were all correct. Charles was correct. I couldn’t be happier. The match couldn’t be better. The fit here couldn’t be more perfect. And I know I went into this next phase of my Christian ministry in Amarillo in a better frame of mind more appropriately equipped because of Charles’ counsel. I read the books he recommended. I answered the questions he told me to ask myself. And I spoke to the people he said I should.
And I’m grateful. Eternally grateful.
We’re all expecting Charles to pass from this life to the next in just a few days. Our brother Charles is close, very close, to being in the intense face-to-face glory and presence of our God. How great for him. People who know Charles much better than I do are setting aside this Friday, February 3, day after tomorrow, as a day of prayer and fasting. I plan to join them. I plan to spend a great part of that day thanking our gracious God for blessing so many of us and our congregations with Charles’ expertise and passion; asking God to bless Charles’ wife, Judy, as she experiences the loss of her dearest companion; begging God to raise up others to pick up the encouraging and mentoring and healing where Charles is leaving off.
To read much more about Charles and this day of prayer and fasting please click on these links to people who really, really, really know him. My great friend Jim Martin’s thoughts can be found here. Dan Bouchelle has penned his own thoughts here. And Jordan Hubbard’s reflections are here.
During my two conversations with Charles seven months ago, he never told me that he was a big part of the reason Central is such a healthy church. Charles has been working very closely with this family of believers in downtown Amarillo for many, many years. He has encouraged our shepherds, he’s helped heal some very painful hurts, and he’s counseled our ministers here for a long, long time. It shows. The Kingdom of God is greater for it. The city of Amarillo is blessed because of it. And the new preacher here is grateful. Eternally grateful.
God bless Charles Siburt with his merciful comfort and peace.