"When God puts a calling on your life, you have to jump in with both feet," said Rick Payne. Rick and his wife, Brenda, are doing just that, fully immersed, at Christ Community Church (Crewe) in Crewe, Virginia.
Christ Community Church (Crewe) is the first official church adoption in the Shenandoah District. (An adopted church is when a healthy church comes alongside an unhealthy church and provides leadership, guidance and support as deemed necessary by the district.) The church had stalled, and its presence was no longer benefitting the community. Rev. Greg Reynolds, Shenandoah District superintendent, knew the church needed a change and felt it was the perfect opportunity to bring new leadership and new life into the small church.
Rev. Randy Garner, lead pastor at Christ Community Church (CCC), where Rick served on the church board as a lay leader, believed the couple would be the right ones to lead Crewe.
“I know we say this all the time, but God does equip the ones he calls,” said Garner. “He has equipped those two to pastor and bring life to Crewe.
Rick wants to see lives changed as his was,
all for the glory of the Lord.”
Rick is a licensed minister pursuing ordination within The Wesleyan Church, and Brenda is obtaining a degree in psychology and Christian counseling. As Rick continued to serve at CCC, both he and Brenda recognized that God was calling them to Crewe.
“We just knew that God wanted us there,” said Brenda. Rick agreed. “We felt God telling us we belonged at Crewe from the first moment we saw it.”
Their transition to Crewe wouldn’t be easy. The church building and property needed a renovation. The couple left a big city to move to a small town where they had no family or friends.
Serving at Crewe was not what they dreamed of doing, but God had different plans. With blessing and support from CCC, the Paynes moved to Crewe (May 2019), where God began to write a new story for Crewe and its congregants.
Today, Crewe is a thriving church in its community. The building and property were completely renovated, but the most important transformation occurred in the lives and the hearts of church congregants and the surrounding community.
The renovation increased morale and encouragement for church congregants, which, in turn, impacted community morale. Church congregants and even those in the community who don’t attend Crewe are connecting more. Some residents have shown interest in the church after attending Facebook Live services. Crewe’s attendance has since quintupled.
“Not only does the church now have an outward-focused mentality for the community, but the community is also willing to help the church when it can, reciprocating that outward focus,” said Rick. The couple believes the church cares because of the change in the property and the people and so now the community cares too.
God used the Paynes to restore church congregants’ faith in their ability to impact those around them. God reminded Crewe that the size of their congregation was not a factor in their ability to influence and that staying within church walls wasn’t their calling. Rick encouraged focused teaching on being community-oriented. “The hands of the congregants must reach outside the walls of the church,” he said, “even if there are only 10 hands doing the reaching.”
“Christianity is not complicated,” said Rick. “It’s just a conversation.” And that’s exactly how Crewe has grown: one congregant having a conversation with another person and inviting that person to church. Before COVID-19 hit, Crewe had begun offering a Bible study for the residents of a local apartment complex, having a monthly movie night and delivering meals to the local fire department.
Crewe service standards are having a transforming presence in the community, and residents have started to take notice. Surrounding churches have noticed too. Those churches are pooling their resources to provide financial support through food and clothing drives to those in community.
Reynolds is ecstatic about the changes taking place at Crewe as the Paynes help Unleash a Kingdom Force one conversation at a time.
“Rick and Brenda are doing a tremendous job, and the people of Crewe are proud of their local church and the difference it is making in the community,” he said.
Rick is equally excited about the ministry happening with the church.
“I am excited to see a church that is excited about God.”