Name Change Emphasizes Community First
FARMINGTON — First Baptist Church on Rheas Mill Road has changed its name to Farmington First and the change is a way to show the church will focus on the Farmington community.
“We’re Farmington,” said Senior Pastor Cary Weaver, who celebrated his first year with the church this summer. “We need to put Farmington first.”
Weaver points out the change really is just a rearrangement of the words in the church’s previous name, from First Baptist Church of Farmington to Farmington First Baptist Church. But the change is intentional, he said.
Weaver said he and church members began intensively
looking at the church and its vision after he arrived on Father’s Day in June 2017. Farmington was a church seeking to move forward, Weaver said.
Same Mission, Fresh Vision
“We thought it was time for a fresh vision. Same mission, same Bible, still a Southern Baptist Church,” Weaver said.
The church rolled out its new branding with the new name and a new logo earlier this year.
Its new vision: “To reach people with the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ that they might know God, find freedom, discover purpose and make a difference.”
Weaver said one of the biggest changes at the church is seeking to keep things simple.
“We want to help people know God, find God and discover why God put you here. And when you do that you make a difference in your world.”
Farmington is a community with many churches doing a great job, Weaver said.
First Farmington wants to come at church from a different angle, he said. The church is not just about gatherings in a building but getting out into a community.
Members did just this last fall with an event called Light Up the Night. Instead of having a fall festival at the church, members hosted block party events and invited their neighborhoods.
Whereas 100 people from the community may have come to an event at the church, thousands showed up at the neighborhood block parties, Weaver said, adding, “We were able to show the love of Jesus to thousands of people.”
The church held its second Light Up the Night this year on Oct. 31.
“An event like that is for Farmington,” Weaver said. “It makes sense to be out in the community. If everything we do is for us, what value are we adding?”
In February, the church moved to two identical services on Sunday mornings — 9:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. — to provide more access and more opportunities for church members and visitors. The church has grown just by adding another service, Weaver said. Average attendance is around 350 and that is up by about 100.
The church had 440 people at the Easter morning service in 2017 and 579 on Easter Sunday this year.
Weaver said most people probably would describe the Sunday worship services as contemporary but he sees it as having more energy.
““We’re celebrating. My preaching style is a lot different than my predecessor. It’s kinda a new day,” he said.
Along with Sunday morning worship services, Farmington First has Life Groups, small groups where people meet together, either in homes or at the church, on Sundays or other days throughout the week.
The small groups are for Bible study, serving together and providing pastoral care to each other.
The Kids First ministry, for children through fifth grade, is led by children’s minister Jamie Webb. Kids First Worship is held on Sunday mornings, with two services (that coincide with adult services) to connect children to worship. Kids First Wednesdays connects kids to the Word of God. Both are held in the children’s building.
The mission of Kids First is “to create a place where children can know, grow and show the love of Jesus.”
The church’s youth ministry, called First Student Ministry or FSM, is held in the youth building on Wednesday nights. Worship for grades 6-8 starts at 6 p.m. and worship for grades 9-12 starts at 7:15 p.m. The student ministry is led by Brandon Burks but the church is in the process of looking for a new youth pastor. Burks, who has been named associate pastor, will move into a new role focusing on small groups and community outreach.
Another change this year has been to place teachers and volunteers on a four-week rotation schedule through a color-coded system. Weaver said he has used this system in other churches and it works well for everyone.
The goal is for every area to be synced with the same rotation. So when it’s a “Red” week, those on the red rotation will serve in their designated roles, whether it is teacher, in the nursery or greeting guests.
One reason for this, Weaver said, is to give teachers and other volunteers the opportunity to be able to attend worship, instead of being involved in a ministry week in and week out.
Attending worship is important, Weaver said, because “the preaching of the word, that is the movement of the body.”
In many churches the same people do everything and the result, Weaver said, is that “we’re overworking people and we’re not giving other people opportunities to serve.” Weaver said he’s seen the number of people involved grow tremendously through the rotation system.
Call To The Ministry
Weaver grew up in Arkansas, the son of a Southern Baptist preacher. He felt called to be a youth pastor at age 15 when his father was pastoring a church in Little Rock. He attended Williams Baptist College and his home church asked him to serve as a part-time youth pastor. After graduating from Williams, he served as full-time youth pastor for his home church.
He and his wife, Sara, married and they left to serve in Livingston, Texas. He has served in the ministry for 20 years in churches in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and North Carolina, either on staff or helping to start new churches.
Prior to Farmington, Weaver was in North Carolina, helping a friend with a new church.
He felt God wanted him to return to Arkansas but didn’t feel called to start another church. Instead, he believed God was pointing him toward a church that needed to move forward. He and his wife also were looking for a community to put down roots, a place they could see themselves living for the rest of their lives.
Weaver learned about First Baptist through a former youth pastor, Scottie Johnson.
“I saw it was a church in a growing area with plenty of facilities,” Weaver said. “There’s no reason we can’t reach people there. We thought it would be a good fit.”
He also thought it would be a place to put down roots, saying, “Farmington is the kinda town you can do that and this is the church you could do that.”
Still Looking Forward
Farmington First has a good mix of ages and is still discovering the best way to move forward, Weaver said.
“Who are we? We’re still on that journey of figuring out exactly who we are as a church. It will be us getting outside our lives.”
The median age in Farmington is around 30, and the church’s median age is around 40. One goal, Weaver said, is for the church to reflect the demographics of the community, though that doesn’t mean the church is seeking certain people as members.
“We’re preparing for people we haven’t met yet. God sends who he can trust us with and we have to be prepared for them.”
“To reach people with the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ that they might know God, find freedom, discover purpose and make a difference.”
Vision Statement Farmington First Baptist Church
Cary Weather, senior pastor at Farmington First Baptist Church, has been at the Farmington church for more than a year. He and his wife, Sara, have three children, Will, left, Millie and Jackson. They attend Farmington schools.
First Baptist Church in Farmington rearranged its words and now has a new name, Farmington First. The church is located at 589 Rheas Mill Road. Pastor Cary Weaver celebrated his one year anniversary with the church in June.