At 18, Chris Larmoyeux didn’t think he was going to be a Baptist minister.

He was more interested in playing baseball, first at Central Arkansas Christian and then at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

At 22, Larmoyeux still didn’t think he was going to be a Baptist minister.

He was more interested in Tonya, who became his wife and, eventually, the mother of their three children. The couple met as students at Arkansas State. Larmoyeux was also getting his first taste of the working world as a high school baseball coach at Arkansas Baptist.

At 26, he still didn’t think he was going to be a Baptist minister.

A new father and a pharmaceutical rep, Larmoyeux was on his way up in the business world. But something was changing for him.

At 27, he, his wife and children made the move to North Carolina so Larmoyeux could attend seminary.

"I got a late start," he said with a laugh.

Now age 36, Larmoyeux took over the pulpit at Maumelle First Baptist Church on Sunday, his first church to pastor.

"Never in a million years did I think I’d end up here," Larmoyeux said, reflecting on his journey.

After graduating from seminary in 2007, Larmoyeux moved back to Arkansas. He began working for the Baptist State Convention and went into college ministry, first at Arkansas-Fort Smith, then at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. It was the UCA job that brought him to Maumelle some four years ago.

Larmoyeux was familiar with the town, having been born and raised in Little Rock and having attended high school at CAC.

His wife, Tonya, now teaches at Academics Plus Charter School, and all three of their children are students there.

"That had some appeal," he said in a wide-ranging interview with the Monitor. "Being able to have all three of them in the charter, that made a difference for us."

Larmoyeux and his family liked the community, and his children went to Vacation Bible School at First Baptist.

He let both the Baptist Convention and the church know that he’d be available to fill in, in case a minister was out. First Baptist took him up on that offer in February of this year.

"They asked me to fill in while they formed a search committee," he said. "Paul McClung, who is a good friend, was also helping out."

McClung had been serving as the interim minister before Larmoyeux.

"They contacted us again in April," Larmoyeux said. "I thought they had forgotten about me, but then things began to move real fast."

Larmoyeux returned for a tryout in May and was offered the job.

Energetic and casually dressed, Larmoyeux said he isn’t much of a "suit-and-tie guy" as he looks to lead Maumelle

First Baptist.

"Pastoring a church is different than ministering to students in some ways. There, you have a bit more counseling, a bit more interacting, as most of the students are close in age. A church congregation, you have all ages. The demands are a

little bit different. The work is a little bit different, but it is still about the work, about being the Body of Christ."

Larmoyeux is ready to dive in.

"This church has a rich history," he said. "The message, it doesn’t change. The method of getting there can change, and that’s what I’m ready for."