Archive for September, 2013

By Clint Smith. Photos by Win Grant.

Rob and Katie Courain aren’t afraid to be honest – in fact, they’ve constructed an entire ministry around it.

RVA United, dedicated to bringing twenty – and thirty – somethings together to worship, study and serve Christ, is about the business of authenticity. Recent sermon topics at their biweekly services include dating, marriage, alcohol, and personal integrity. “Ninety-nine percent of this age group either don’t know or aren’t experiencing a real relationship with God,” says Katie. “We want them to feel safe asking the tough questions that keep them from going deeper.”

RVA-montageRob, a Richmond native, met Christ three years ago. “I believed in God – maybe,” he says. “Even if I had wanted to have a relationship with Him, I wouldn’t have known how.”

Struggling to find his identity in Nashville, Tenn., where he was pursuing a career as a songwriter, Rob accepted an invitation to Kairos, a 1,500-member young adult ministry based out of Brentwood Baptist Church. Describing his favorite seat as “the back wall – not even the back pew,” Rob claims that on his tenth visit, the truth from the pulpit and the overwhelming love of the congregation finally moved him to accept Christ. His romance with Katie and a move to Richmond soon followed, and they have dedicated their first years of marriage to establishing the same type of welcoming, worshipful environment that opened his own heart to the love of God.

Their ministry began when Rob met Dave Allam, a Christian with a shared dream for Richmond’s young adults. Allam’s ministry, RichmondOne, was in its infancy when the Courains came aboard. The program evolved into RVA United, and its leaders went searching for a home church.

“For every reason you could imagine, we heard a lot of ‘no’,” Rob says. “But everything changed when Katie sat down with Lynn [Lynn Turner, FBC’s Senior Associate Pastor]. Before Katie could even ask, Lynn smiled and said, ‘Why don’t you do it here?’ That very week she invited us to a prayer meeting, and twenty or thirty people I had never seen were hugging me and praying for our vision. I’ll never forget that. First Baptist is such a special place.” A short time later, RVA United held its first worship service in the sanctuary at Monument Avenue and the Boulevard.

Every two weeks, the Courains mobilize a small band of volunteers and professionals to make the Tuesday night service a success. The stage is built, the lights are placed, the screens and projectors are hung and focused, the sound is checked, and the food trucks are booked – all before anyone arrives.

Then the greeters, musicians, teachers, prayer leaders, and counselors go to work. A rotation of guest speakers fills the pulpit, already calling upon ministers from the Commonwealth Chapel, Bless Richmond, New Life UMC, and Movement Church. “We are passionate about getting people plugged into church,” says Katie, when asked about the decision to invite guests to deliver the message. “That’s the ‘united’ part of our name – a union of churches that serves one Lord.” The Courains extend invitations to church partners across the city and surrounding counties to both announce their events and welcome young adults into their own congregations.

The Courains’ vision for RVA United is packed pews, a rich and diverse network of church and community partnerships, faithful small groups meeting across the city, impactful service projects, destroyed addictions, restored relationships, and most of all, thousands of hearts turned toward Jesus Christ. “We need help,” admits Rob. “It’s a big vision, and it’s big work.”

RVA United is seeking Christians who can serve as mentors and counselors during and beyond the worship services. “Don’t think that you have to be under forty to come on Tuesday night. We very much want and need mature Christians – of all ages – to counsel, mentor and pray with this congregation. If your gifts lie more behind the scenes, there are plenty of opportunities there, as well: equipment set up and tear down, audio, video, light mixing, child care, hospitality, and many others.”

“Our dream is big, but so is our God,” Katie says.

If you are interested in helping RVA United, please contact Rob Courain, (804) 356-6337.

Editor’s note: RVA United meets for worship every other week, beginning September 10, 2013, at 7 p.m., in FBC’s sanctuary.

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