Guest Post – Ping Pong Discipleship

Guest Post – Ping Pong Discipleship

I asked Jim Cottrill if he would write a post for this blog about discipleship. Here’s his thoughts on what it takes to reach people and disciple them.

Years ago I was involved in a church plant in Calgary, I had a friend who loved ping pong (or table tennis – let’s not get caught up in semantics!). I like ping pong too, but this guy really loved it. He had the whole setup in his basement, and his house was often filled with the sounds of chops, flips and smashes (I’m trying to make it sound like I know something about table tennis. It’s not working, is it?).

When this guy joined our very new little group, ping pong came along with him. And it became one of the many answers to one of our biggest questions…

How can we reach people in our community?

Well, with ping pong, of course. Before long there was a mix of Christians and non-Christians down in his basement for some pretty serious tournaments.

I’m not sure where we got the idea that reaching the world only takes one kind of person. Maybe a somewhat dull preacher who can sing a little and sadly endure the inconveniences of wherever-they-are. This narrow vision of missions is going to kill the missionary effort. Can we bury the whole idea of cookie-cutter missionaries right now?

Let me ask you – do you think I would have reached the ping pong players of Calgary? Nope. Not too many people could have.

Here in Mexico, we have the same incredible variety of people that there are anywhere else in the world. And it’s going to take a wide variety of people – both Mexican and non-Mexican, to reach them.

I have a group of Christian friends here in Mexico City who are looking for ways to reach people, just like we were in Calgary. Right now we have keyboard classes for those who want to learn keyboard. English classes for those who want to learn English. Our two kids go to two different schools, and we meet people who are also parents. Those who can build things built furniture to give to unsuspecting families. All these things and many more do something important – they mix together people who have experienced God’s grace in Jesus, and those who haven’t.

You already know Dennis and Janell, and you know they’re training youth workers. But maybe you don’t know how incredibly versatile youth workers in Mexico need to be! It’s going to take more than one kind of person to reach them. I’m betting this new generation has a more varied set of interests than any generation before.

We talk a lot about methods of discipleship, mission strategies, and so on. But it still comes down to this, just like it always has.

Mixing together people that have experienced God’s grace in Jesus with those who haven’t. And sharing stories of that grace.

Do you work in construction? Come to Mexico! Share how you’ve seen God’s grace as you’ve worked with the worker here who thinks he has nothing to live for.

You’re retired? Come on down! You can reach the mature Mexican in a way that the younger missionary never can, because you’ve seen God’s grace in a way she never has.

An artist? Fantastic! Do we have ideas for you! But much too creative ones to write here. 😉

You’re a doctor? We have lots of doctors here you could share ideas with. And show how God’s grace has transformed your life.

Computer tech? Come help us set up an internet cafe, that can mix together believers and not-yet-believers! Help non-techie missionaries with their computers.

You’re a student? Get together with other students, and just give your time. Speak English? Come teach and share grace with your smile and love.

Experience in youth ministry? Oooh boy – don’t wait, talk to Dennis today. 😉

Come for a few years and build deep relationships. Come for a week or two, and you’ll be surprised how deep your relationships get! Help us put on an event. Or develop a long term strategy. Give us a shot of encouragement, or make a long term commitment to stand with us.

Us – all believers in Mexico, no matter what passport we have. There are a thousand things you can do. Jesus is working, and building His church. He may even do it with ping pong.

Just don’t ask me to lead the ping pong ministry.


Jim and Shari have been in Mexico since 2006, and are currently serving in south east Mexico City. Their blog is called Finding direction. Check it out!