Wanderers find worship on California's Central Coast

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Church planting & multiplication

Maverick Church Paso Robles California Worship

Ben Kosharek and Podge Cross often see more wanderers than worshipers along the rolling hills of California's central coast. 

Drive up and down Highway 101 or take side roads to Route 1 along a gorgeous, curving coastline. It's around here that people who've yet to follow Christ work, play, learn and live — but not in a local church. 

So Cross and Kosharek planted Maverick Church. The church's name draws from the region's history: lost cattle roamed around until someone who cared claimed them.


"We are trying to be a simple, safe and relaxing place for people to come and fellowship and worship and grow together," Kosharek said. 

Weekly lunches worked up an appetite for a new church


The two regularly ate lunch together while they served in ministry years ago at different churches. All those meals over the years formed them into a ministry team who'd already worked out their ideas.  

Now, these reflections inspire them to lead a church that complements other congregations with different approaches to ministry. Maverick is an alternative form of church, so more people have their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. 

Californians here are incredibly busy, the Converge church planters said, and they're often spiritually independent. Many would say they do their thing regarding faith and encourage others to do whatever they want.

Ben, who has two children with his wife, Natasha, said people in this part of California also want a faith experience and community that's real. He said his kids and many others quickly see through a religious experience that's manufactured or feels like a sales pitch.

"We're trying to think through everything we do in a more relational way," Kosharek said. 

Rob Jones, a member of the church’s launch team, said Maverick is succeeding at a relational approach because he most wants a connection with God. 

"I'm grounded, and now I'm learning to get to know the Lord better and better each day," he said. "It feels great to be searching and finding." 

That's true for many people, Cross said, because many have been so disconnected from God's family and Christ's mission. 

"There were people who were starved to be a part of something," he added. 

Therefore, Maverick has developed a spectrum of ministries for kids and high school students, service projects with the homeless population, and monthly gatherings for men and women. 


I'm grounded, and now I'm learning to get to know the Lord better and better each day. It feels great to be searching and finding.

Rob Jones

They're not trying to burn believers out by having them serve endlessly or discover that the church doesn't empower them for obedience during life's challenges. Maverick focuses on fellowship, which Kosharek said is many people’s primary reason to come. 

"The church body exists to build one another up, to equip one another for the work God has for you to do," he said. 

Podge added that the new Converge church is learning to create simple and practical opportunities for people hungry for spiritual growth. 

"Let's teach them how simple discipleship is," Cross said. "Discipleship is really just intentional relationship and learning how to follow Jesus together." 

'Are we ever going to leave?' 


Today, Californians without a spiritual family are finding their way into Christ's body, the church, Melanie McWilliams said. 

McWilliams, who attends Maverick with her husband Allan, said they've been excited to join the church's core team.

On one Sunday in December, she said the congregation enjoyed each other's company so much that she thought people might never leave. She said folks have craved deep relationships and opportunities to share their stories.

 "I just love the idea of going to church with my neighbors," she said. 

 "It's a group of people coming together who want to grow together and encourage each other," McWilliams said. 

Converge's 10 districts have committed to deploying 312 church planters before 2026. Read more inspiring church planting stories and learn about the goal to send out 312 church planters in five years. 

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

Additional articles by Ben Greene