Name Change Em­pha­sizes Com­mu­nity First

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

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?”

Wor­ship Op­por­tu­ni­ties

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

COUR­TESY PHOTO

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.

LYNN KUT­TER EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

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.

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