CLA Discerners: Josh Cobia

Tell a bit about yourself.

My name is Josh Cobia. I'm a seminary student at Golden Gate, songwriter, blogger, Pastor of Community and Worship at Resonate Church, and currently discerning church planting with Cyclical LA. So I have tons of free time!

I’ve been married to Chelsea for three years now. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Calvary Christian School and she’s currently pursuing her masters in education. We live in a fun, quirky little apartment in Santa Monica. 

Please share about your discernment and your context.  

I was introduced to the process of starting a church rather young. My father is a church a planter, and I grew up watching him pastor and plant churches in several states and even outside the U.S in the Netherlands when I was around ten years old.   

I was about as nerdy as a pastor's kid could get, and used to beg to go to Willow Creek conferences as early as fourteen years old. I simply loved the church. This tribe had given me an understanding of Jesus and encouraged me to grow in relationship with him. I saw it as a place that the hurt could come and find healing, and where those who felt like outsiders could find acceptance all because what we did as a community of Jesus followers modeled who Jesus is.  Church was the place I felt the most at home, and the most inspired. At a young age I felt a strong call to serve within it.

 When I turned twenty I moved from the Bay Area down to Los Angeles and accepted a role as a youth pastor/worship leader at a church plant in Agoura Hills, CA. A little over a year ago I planted a church with my father in Santa Monica. The new church came under some fire due to an article I wrote on my time at my previous church plant entitled, "I Went to Church With Bruce Jenner, Here's What Caitlyn Taught Me about Jesus." It went viral and eventually made its way to the Washington Post as well as the Huffington Post. 

Since then my life has changed in some pretty amazing ways, and even though some of those reasons are tough, I believe God is leading Chelsea and I in bold new ways. Most recently, a friend introduced me to Cyclical LA and it’s provided a breath of fresh air, as well as a safe space to continue the call to plant. I am forever grateful to be a part of this crew.

There’s this saying among musicians that goes “If you're the worst musician in the room, chances are you’ve found the right room”–the thought being that we should always be in a place where we can be stretched and learn from those around us. Cyclical LA is a community in which I get to sit at a table with some of the most incredible leaders I’ve met. Learning from these talented leaders has served as a wonderful affirmation of my heart for church and for planting.  

Getting to discern is a rare space for most church planting organizations, and I take it as a great opportunity. Discernment is a chance to prayerfully understand what it means to plant a healthy church. This is information and wisdom I wish I had absorbed much sooner in life. 

Share a story of transformation within your discernment. 

During my time discerning, I’ve had the chance to take a good hard look at what church means to a community. In other words, if the gospel is the good news, and our mission is sharing that good news, what makes a church Good News? What makes a new church, in a specific context, good news to that community? 

Good news in LA looks a whole lot different from neighborhood to neighborhood. Whatever neighborhood God calls me to plant in, my prayer is that the church’s mission statement would really be more of a question that’s asked over and over again: 

"How can we serve this community?"  

In other church planting communities and trainings I have been a part of, it can sometimes feel as though there is a one size fits all approach to church planting. As a discerner with Cyclical LA, I’m learning that we need to listen to the community around us, to create community in which Jesus can be shared in the most beautiful way. That realization has been healing and transformative for me.

What are your next steps? 

Next steps for me include a lot of listening. Moving forward, it's important that I take the time to meet with people and ask them some of the following questions: 

What does church mean to you? 
What would you want a church to look like? 
What do you think good news looks like where you live?