Roller Skating Rinks and Rural Communities

Hi ya’ll!  My name is Jessica Hampton-Shipman, and I am the Middle School Large Group Leader (aka the Middle School Pastor) for Meadow Heights Church Farmington. I also lead a Small Group of eighth grade girls whom I’ve been with since sixth grade. And did I mention yet that I’m 100% a volunteer in both roles? It’s a crazy season but most definitely worth the work!

Meadow Heights Church is multisite church with three locations in rural communities. The first location is in Fredericktown, Missouri, population of about 5,000.  Our second location is in Arcadia Valley, Missouri, population even smaller than Fredericktown.  Our third location (and the one where I serve) is in Farmington, Missouri, with a population of about 19,000.

We’ve been using Orange curriculum at Meadow Heights for about five years now. We started using the curriculum and materials available in both our kids and student ministries. And I’ve got to tell you: Using Orange has certainly taken the weight off of our team.

That’s because each one of our three locations operates differently. My location in Farmington is portable, meaning we set up and tear down weekly at the same center. Our Fredericktown location is a traditional, permanent brick and mortar church that we own. And our Arcadia Valley location meets in an old grocery store that we lease.  We’re truly a grassroots group over here, and that means the work never stops.

Every Sunday at 5:30 AM, the team at my location in Farmington unloads out of two box trailers. We set up and meet inside the Farmington Centene Center, the theatre and event portion of our local Farmington Civic Center. Our kids ministry meets on Sunday mornings during normal church services, using 252 curriculum, while our student ministry meets on Wednesday nights in the homes of some our leaders.  I lead the middle school ministry, and we meet at the Roller Zone, our local roller skating rink.  Yes… I said roller skating rink. Not what you were expecting I know, but it absolutely has benefits.

As you can see, we’re everywhere all the time at our church. That’s what makes using the Orange strategy and curriculum so great for us. It allows our team to focus on what’s most important: our people! The content alone helps not only engage our students, but draws in visitors as well. At the Roller Zone, we attract a lot of unchurched students who show up just to skate for free. They’re quickly pulled in as we move into weekly games, followed by Large Group with relevant and engaging content provided by XP3.  From there, we move into Small Groups (where we always provide a free soda!) and round out the night with a large group circle, where we hold hands and go around the circle with prayer requests before praying to end the night. And because the content is so accessible to leaders and engaging to students, we’re able to not only draw in others, but lead them well through the conversation, too.

What I love about Orange is between Lead Small, Parent Cue, and all the other Orange resources available to us, there is always something available for every leader, every parent, and every student. There’s content to meet them in every phase and stage of their life. And we trust it not just because it’s biblically sound, but because it’s consistent, relevant, and engaging.

As a volunteer, I’m so grateful for Orange because it gives me time to build into a group of volunteers, fully equipping them to succeed at everything they do with their Small Groups. I can focus on building relationships, rather than planning and creating content. I can stay on track, stay focused, and look like I have it all together (even when sometimes I don’t). For a portable church in the early years of formation, Orange has been a game changer.

Orange Conference 2018