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Rock Hero: Joyce Crittenden - September 2010
By Anita Palmer

Joyce Crittenden says it took her a while, but she finally got it: When you love someone, you want to do something for them. When you love God, you want to serve Him.

“So I started serving like crazy. I knew God had something special for me to do, and I wanted to find it!” Joyce said.

Joyce had attended the Rock on and off starting in 2003, but had never made a commitment to it. In the fall of 2006, she attended a Rock Ministry Fair and landed in the choir and a small group. But it wasn’t until she participated in a 12-week discipleship course at the Rock in early 2007 and was baptized that something clicked.

“I finally got it! My life isn’t for me! It’s for Jesus,” she said.

But what to do? How to serve Him?

Living in the World

Joyce was born in Merced, California. After her mother had a minor heart attack when Joyce was nine years old, the two of them moved to San Diego to be closer to her sister.

Joyce grew up in the church, but had no real connection to Christ.

“My teens and twenties were spent doing my own thing. I was living in the world as if I didn’t know God at all,” said Joyce, a petite, vivacious woman. She married at 26 and immediately knew it was a mistake. She divorced three years later.

I finally got it! My life isn’t for me! It’s for Jesus.--Joyce Crittenden

Joyce had always wanted to be an attorney, but couldn’t find the time and funding to pursue that goal in college. She went into accounting, and has worked in that field ever since.

A Message from God

As Joyce grew in her knowledge and commitment to Christ, she felt a tug toward volunteering in the Altar Call ministry. The purpose of the Altar Call Ministry is to minister to those that come forward to commit or recommit their lives to the Lord, or to ask for prayer and counsel. It's a sacred calling, requiring a sympathetic, spiritually mature person with a handle on both Scripture and counseling principles.

But she was reluctant--even though a spiritual gifts test listed it as a good fit for her. She also was still wavering when it came to which worship service to plug into. “I couldn’t find a service time that I felt at home in. Everyone was nice, but I felt like an outsider,” she said.

Frustrated, she decided to leave the Rock when a favorite pastor departed to launch another congregation.

“On the Sunday of that first service, I was ironing my clothes and God told me I needed to stay at the Rock because the Altar Call leader needed my help,” she said.

She ignored the message, until later that day when she heard directly from the co-leader. The ministry was desperate for help; would she please volunteer, he asked.

“Of course I had to say yes. But that meant I had to be at church for all five services, when I couldn’t even commit to one! I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it wasn’t often that I clearly heard God speak to me, so I had to do it!” she said.

Hugs and Guidance

So now she’s serving “like crazy” as the leader for the Rock Church Altar Call Ministry. Every Sunday, she’s at the Rock from 7 AM to 9:30 PM, overseeing five crews of 8 to 15 volunteers charged with helping the hundreds of people who come forward at the end of worship services.

Whether joyful after accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, or desperate for prayer -- the men, women and children who enter the Altar Call room get hugged, listened to, prayed for, and guided to the next step so that they can grow in Christ and then go out and do something to serve Him.

“This is a big church. It can be overwhelming. We look for places to plug them in to according to their interests and needs,” Joyce said.

This is a big church. It can be overwhelming. We look for places to plug them in to according to their interests and needs.--Joyce Crittenden

The Altar Call ministry is especially focused on pointing people to the New Believers class, the Christian Essentials course, and becoming a member of the Rock A.R.M.Y.

‘This Is My Heart!’

Looking back over the last three years, she sees how God orchestrated all the details to get her in the place of ministry He prepared for her.

Joyce continues to sing in the choir and also occasionally directs it, even though it makes her nervous. She participates in the MACs, Rock singles’ ministry; in Nail Polished ministry for women;  and with the Pastoral Support Team.

She remembers Pastor Miles teaching that we all need to find the place where your heart gets broken, and help there.”

Altar Call is that place.

“I love praying for people who are hurting,” said Joyce. “This is my heart!”

Congratulations, Joyce Crittenden, Rock Hero for September!

For more info about the Rock Church Altar Call Ministry, please visit

For more information about the Altar Call Ministry, click here »