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Book by Book: Building a National Reputation
By Storytelling Team Member

When Jayson Payne started at the Rock Church bookstore, he would get up at 5 AM every Sunday and go set out books and merchandise on a folding table outside SDSU's Montezuma Hall. A decade later, the Rockpile has been named the best large church bookstore in the nation.

The Rockpile was chosen from 500 nominees for the 2010 Store of the Year Award, issued by The Church Bookstore magazine at an annual gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, last month. The Rockpile was honored "in recognition of outstanding contributions in the development of Christian retail in the local church."

What a difference a decade makes -- not to mention thousands of volunteering hours, a desire to help people find and grow in Christ, and consistent high standards.

"Everything that this church does is excellent," said Jayson.

He laughed, recalling that he had no clue the Rockpile would be receiving the prestigious honor and almost didn't attend the awards dinner. "I was not expecting it!," said Jayson. "I thought, 'What did I win this for?'"

From Plastic Bins to Business Acolades

When Jayson started volunteering for the bookstore, the Rock had just launched at SDSU. He stored his merchandise in plastic bins he carted to storage and back every Sunday. He focused on carrying books that ministered specifically to typical Rock attenders, and on offering contemporary, nontraditional merchandise. Some vendors wouldn't take his orders because the operation was so small. So Jayson would buy books from other church bookstores at a slight discount and then resell them.

He was thrilled when the Rock moved into its long-term temporary location on Ruffin Road, because that provided him with 1,500 square feet of space in which to build a real store. Contrast that with the current Rockpile store, with its 6,000 square feet of space.

Jayson said he and his staff have built the Rockpile on a ministry model. Values like service and excellence drive his decisions. He often consults with other church-based stores that need advice.

The award is particularly sweet, then, because the winning votes came from vendors and other bookstores. It's a sort of Better Business Bureau-like label the store can be proud of, Jayson said.

Family Expansion Too

And as Jayson has built a nationally recognized bookstore, he and his wife, Erika Lin, have built a family. They recently adopted Erikson Leander Payne.

Through the process, they have learned about the joys and challenges of adoption and foster care. Jayson and Erika, who works as the executive assistant to the Rock Church’s chief information officer. launched the Rock's new adoption ministry. They are holding a free "Foster Care Seminar: Do Something to Change a Life!" May 15, 2010, at the Rock. Click here for more info.

Meanwhile, back at the store, Jayson is pleased that the newly reconstructed entrance off the Rock Lobby makes the Rockpile more accessible to more people.

"The construction didn't add square feet. It just made it easier for people to come in," said Jayson. After all, serving people is the reason the Rockpile exists.


For more info about the Rockpile Bookstore, go to