When I was in seminary I was involved in a cell church called “The Passage.” At first it began as just one cell group in the home of professor Don James. A few weeks after I joined some from the group wanted to multiply and launch their own cell group. I stayed behind in the mother group for about 6 months at which point I launched out with two other guys and their wives. When the group grew to about 25 people I launched out with a few of them to lead my own cell group. All the while I was receiving all kinds of coaching, training, and learning to live life in community with others.
It was a fantastic experience for me. But there was one thing that stood out to me beyond everything else I experienced–the professor just went by the name of Don. It was not Dr. James or Pastor or Professor James or even Dr. Don. It was just Don. This was the first time that I had ever experienced something like that. Pastors love to go by “Pastor ______” Professors love to go by “Dr ________.” I can’t say that I blame them. It’s part of the expected culture in most places. But there was nothing that brought the New Testament principle of the priesthood of all believers into sharper focus than for my professor to just go by Don. To this day it seems incredible. I think that’s one of the reasons why I tend to just go by Rodlie or just Rodlie Ortiz. I know many don’t agree with it. They believe that the people will lose respect for you if they no longer call you “Pastor _____.” But I know this…my level of respect for him only increased by learning that he was willing to go without some formal designation. He was one of us, yet we never questioned that he was the leader. It communicated that we were colleagues on a mission together.
[image by dramnani]