When consulting a small group church, one of the first questions I ask is, “What are you trying to accomplish through your small group ministry?” On almost every occasion the response is, “Our goal is to make disciples.”
There are few people who are more adept at creating a systematic approach to making disciples in the local church than are Roy and Margaret Fitzwater. These long time Navigators have been making disciples and helping churches know how to make disciples for many years. This passionate husband and wife team has oversight of almost 50 church consultants nationwide. Each of these consultants is available to help you and your church create a long-term disciple-making strategy.
I asked Margaret and Roy if they would be open to an interview. What you’ll read over the next three days will enlighten, encourage, and challenge you. It certainly did me.
Rick: When did each of you become Christ followers, and what was the circumstance that brought you to that point?
Margaret: I had a friend in Junior High who seemed to have something I didn’t. At about the same time a family moved to our church and the mom had a passion for the Word and a joy in life that I didn’t know. I grew up in church and was a nominal Christian at the time, but through knowing Martha I made a commitment to a real relationship with Jesus, not just “fire insurance,” and I began falling in love with Jesus and His Word as I began reading the Word regularly and listening to God.
Roy: I was in college and had three friends who lived out their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I came to a crisis in facing my earthly father’s death, and I turned to my Heavenly Father when I had no one else to go to. I knew He was the answer because of what God meant in the lives of these three friends. I’m forever grateful to Nancy, Beth, and Tom.
Rick: If I understand correctly, you are the first husband and wife team to co-lead a ministry area at The Navigators. What's that like?
Margaret and Roy: We get to play to our individual strengths; two are definitely better than one. We are polar opposites on the Myers Briggs so we can really “team” in a way that the total is more productive. We are simply able to accomplish more by having two of us through synergy. We do many things together, but also both have clear responsibilities that are different. We really love working together, and it’s an extra blessing to do it in an area we’re passionate about. We also have the opportunity to “divide and conquer” – split meetings, projects, etc. On the negative side, it’s difficult to quit at the end of the day, and we have to be very proactive in making time for non-ministry conversations. Good communication is something we've always had to work at, but now we’re trying even harder in this area. Significant praying and reflecting time together is essential, and we enjoy that together as well.
Rick: Please explain what area of ministry the two of you oversee and why you are so passionate about it.
Margaret and Roy: We Co-Direct the Church Discipleship Ministry of The Navigators. As one of the six major missions, we carry out the ministry of The Navigators “to know Christ and make Him known” in the context of the church. Our desire is to see every church making disciples, every church leader a disciplemaker. We accomplish this in two primary ways: life-change and church-change. Both major on life-to-life relationships that lead to sustainable and reproducible growth.
Rick: How many consultants do you have on the field and what are their responsibilities?
Margaret and Roy: We have almost 100 staff and more than 50 partners nationwide. We are really more like “coaches” than consultants. We don’t ever go into a church with all the answers, nor even a specific prescribed plan, but instead with lots of life and leadership experience, a huge set of tools, and a very big God who wants everyone to be making disciples. Each experience is different depending on the church and their needs. Our staff walk alongside church leaders, both lay and staff, partnering with them to facilitate change and building disciplemaking cultures. Life and leadership coaching is a big part of this as well as our premier process The Intentional Disciplemaking Church – a scripturally based toolkit which facilitates comprehensive church change. This process is built on a foundation of prayer, teamwork, and assessment followed by focus on six additional areas including spiritual maturity, mission/vision, leadership, small groups/infrastructure, life-to-life, and outreach. CDM Partners work in a more limited way in these same areas with a goal to bring a culture of discipleship in at least one church. Perhaps someone reading this BLOG might be interested in this, if so, you can contact us directly.
Rick: How would a church make contact with one of these consultants if the church wanted to know how to create a disciple-making church?