Since 2014, The Reverend Canon Doctor Rob Droste has served as Canon for Congregational Development and Mission in the Diocese of New Jersey. In that role, he oversees a broad range of initiatives designed to increase congregational vitality in more than 130 congregations.
A member of the diocese’s senior staff, Rob works closely with Bishop William “Chip” Stokes, diocesan staff and a diverse group of clergy and lay leaders across New
Jersey. Rob draws on principles of adaptive leadership, creativity/innovation, missional thinking, and church-specialized coaching to help congregations make the challenging transition from maintenance to mission.
Rob has been married to his wife, Karla, since 1995; Karla is a full-time spiritual director, devoted to Ignatian spirituality, who specializes in working with clergy, seminarians, and lay leaders.
Borrowing from Stephen Covey, Rob likes to say, “The main thing for the church is keeping the main thing the main thing. For the church, that means developing lifelong, committed followers of Jesus for the world – people committed to Christ. Everything we will ever do in our church will rest on how well we accomplish that task.”
Desde 2014, el Reverendo Canónigo Doctor Rob Droste ha servido como Canónigo para Desarrollo Congregacional y Misión en la Diócesis de Nueva Jersey. En ese papel, él
supervisa una amplia gama de iniciativas diseñadas para aumentar la vitalidad de la congregación en más de 130 congregaciones. Como miembro del personal superior de la diócesis, Rob trabaja en estrecha colaboración con el obispo William “Chip” con el Obispo William “Chip” Stokes, el personal diocesano y un grupo diverso de líderes clericales y laicos de Nueva Jersey. Rob se basa en principios de liderazgo adaptativo, creatividad/innovación, pensamiento misionero y el coaching especializado en la iglesia para ayudar a las congregaciones a realizar la
de mantenimiento a la misión.
Rob está casado con su esposa, Karla, desde 1995; Karla es una directora espiritual a tiempo completo, dedicada a la espiritualidad ignaciana. espiritual a tiempo completo, dedicada a la espiritualidad ignaciana, que se especializa en trabajar con el clero seminaristas y líderes laicos.
Tomando prestado a Stephen Covey, a Rob le gusta decir: “Lo principal para la iglesia es mantener lo principal como lo principal”. Para la iglesia, eso significa desarrollar seguidores de Jesús comprometidos de por vida para el mundo, para el mundo, personas comprometidas con Cristo. Todo lo que todo lo que hagamos en nuestra iglesia dependerá de lo bien que cumplamos esa tarea”.
From your profile:
Each of these, and more, touch my heart. Your initiatives to Native Americans, Latinos and Sudanese encourage me. Your work with youth (particularly in the arts, a favorite of mine) inspires me. And at the heart, your three priorities for a new Bishop (congregational leadership, growth and vitality) draw me most.
I have more than 20 years of experience in congregational leadership and vitality, with the last seven on the diocesan level. In fact, my entire career has focused on your three priorities. In New Jersey, I have raised dozens of clergy and lay leaders through our Coaching Network and engaged almost 40 congregations in our cutting-edge Way of St. Paul congregational vitality initiative. (See my link page for a short video on the Way of St. Paul.)
Since 2014, I have collaborated with and supported leaders of many diocesan boards and committees (our Board of Missions, our LIfelong Christian Formation Committee, our Clergy Continuing Education Committee, our Youth and Young Adult conveners, and now our Fresh Start training for new clergy), helping each of them use concepts of discipleship to focus their work. I personally coach Black leaders, women clergy, and have trained clergy, lay, women, men, Black and Latino leaders to reach the higher levels of spiritual and practical effectiveness that God wants for them.
To sum it up, I am interested in serving as your twelfth bishop because I have the skills and experience that you emphasize to help you do the things you want to do. I’m quite sure that doing them with you will be very meaningful and joyful.
You see, my ministry rests on this: Our ability to carry out all of the things we want to do as church – a good definition of congregational vitality – rests squarely on the strength of our commitment to discipleship – that is, our commitment to living and loving like Jesus and helping others to do the same.
In the Diocese of New Jersey, we say it this way: “Every congregation is a school of discipleship.” This means that the primary purpose of the congregation is building a commitment to following Jesus. It is the top priority of every congregation in New Jersey, and should God call me as your bishop, it will be my top priority too.
Growing in Faith and Living Out Joy
I chose this topic for two reasons. First, developing committed, lifelong followers of Jesus – what we call disciples – has been the heart of my ministry for more than 20 years. My doctorate examined the relationship between discipleship and congregational vitality; for more than seven years, I have focused almost exclusively on this area with the 138 congregations in the Diocese of New Jersey.
In our diocese, we try to keep things simple: our team helps congregations live into their call to be effective “schools of discipleship.” We teach clergy and lay leaders how to grow as committed followers of Jesus; we then go on to teach them how to help others do the same.
Second, I chose this topic because I’m convinced that the success of your other seven themes rests on how well you engage this one. We have found in New Jersey that starting with strengthening discipleship leads to more meaningful and effective prayer, advocacy, worship and especially service to those who need it most. It changes lives. For real.
A focus on discipleship development creates stronger ministry across the board because people do ministry, and discipleship strengthens people.
To live as a committed follower of Jesus is to be on a path that goes somewhere. It’s based on eternal truths that we can trust – truths that stabilize us in chaotic times. People who experience positive change through their relationship with Jesus are motivated to participate in and support their Christian communities. These people grow in their excitement about helping each other live and love like Jesus, and many naturally find themselves showing those outside the church how to live that way.
Growth in faith is energizing – and to be sure, energy is something every congregation can use more of. It also gives us a shared, inspiring purpose – very helpful in changing the kind and severity of the conflicts we experience in church.
To say “yes, I commit myself” to Christ’s call is much more than just a lifestyle choice: it is a response to a divine gift from God. From the inside out, it makes us more “other-focused” than we ever thought possible. Jesus’ path makes meaning out of suffering, makes treasures of our shortcomings, and provides fellow travelers. We become more creative, more courageous, and more compassionate, and people see the change in us (often before we see it). That change creates the precious quality of authenticity – essential if we are to speak our faith into the world effectively.
It’s not too strong to say that for our church to be what it was made to be, discipleship must be the starting point for everything. In Matthew, sometimes called the “church’s user’s manual,” Jesus starts with a call to choose his path and ends with a call to help others do the same. He promises to be with us always if we do these things. In this, he tells us exactly who we are and what we were made for.
Link to Pentecost 2019, St. David’s Church, Cranbury, New Jersey Sermon
Link to Pentecost 2021, Trinity Cathedral, Trenton, New Jersery. Sermon begines at 34:00
Link to Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 2021, Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersery. Sermon begins at 20:21