A Call to Be Brave

For the modern-day Christian and spiritual seeker in Englewood, Colorado, BRAVE Church has assembled a unit of devoted, engaged spiritual warriors who encourage visitors and members alike to serve Christ boldly and without hesitation. The church’s motto, “Empower advancement,” is both a description of its ethos and a call to action for its members and the surrounding community.

Rather than creating a cozy environment that eases members into their comfort zone, BRAVE’s philosophy is the opposite. BRAVE propels visitors and members toward a courageous future where they can work alongside their brothers and sisters to advance the cause of Christ. 

When you walk through BRAVE’s doors, you’re drawn right into the fray. As a family of bold disciples, the members and leaders at BRAVE treat you as if they have been waiting for you to arrive. Rather than relegating the church experience to weekend worship services, the people live their mission all week long—and they want others to come along.

Telling a BRAVE Story

When the church leadership approached my team at PlainJoe: A Storyland Studio in 2022, they had reached an inflection point in their story. After experiencing rapid, unprecedented growth over their first decade, they recognized the need to create a cohesive brand experience that could grow with them.

As the BRAVE team looked toward the future, they could see significant growth on the horizon, with the need to plant additional campuses and purchase a new building for their main campus. In addition, they were anticipating starting a school (what is now BRAVE Academy). Rather than establishing each location haphazardly, it was vitally important for them to scale in a unified way. To do this, they needed a cohesive story that connected their strategic, spatial and digital experiences. 

My team worked with church leadership to define their brand’s story and core values, which would then inform their connected story throughout every touchpoint of their experience. These five important values describe the core of what BRAVE Church strives to be: 

* Bold 
* Resolute 
* Authentic 
* Virtuous 
* Engaged

BRAVE has a heart for men’s outreach, so its branding intentionally takes a bold, masculine stance that solidifies these values in a tangible way.

“Our church has a calling to unapologetically target men, urging them on into a bold faith,” says Jeff Schwarzentraub, senior pastor at BRAVE Church. “We brought in PlainJoe because they understand that God has wired us as humans to be moved by story.

“Working with their team, we now have a compelling story of our unique place in the kingdom, and we’re beginning to tell it in a more connected way—from when someone first learns about us online to when they show up in person,” he says.

My design team wanted to further embody the ideas of biblical conviction, hope, obedience, faith, action and exponential transformation through the colors and visuals they selected.  

Vision Come to Life

Next, we focused our attention on the spatial storytelling process. BRAVE was in need of an interior facelift, including new graphics and theming, plus renovation in their existing building.

Using the visual brand we created, the PlainJoe team designed interior theming, wayfinding signage and graphics to connect the spatial environment to the church’s strategic story. Bringing the interior into alignment with the refreshed brand design would create a sense of clarity and consistency in the look and feel of the space.

We also aimed to help them improve their existing facilities. Our concept included plans for adding 4,000 additional seats to their capacity at that time, converting a dirt lot into extra parking, and reworking and expanding the existing lobby.

Finally, my architectural team designed a master plan concept, which included the construction of a kids’ wing and administrative offices. This would also encompass any remaining work that needed to be done to available parking areas.

The master plan concept allowed for more space for kids’ activities (kindergarten through high school), reworked the stage and seating in the main sanctuary, and created a greater sense of simplicity in the space. It also consolidated the entryway into BRAVE’s atrium, meant to restore a sense of arrival and community for anyone entering the building.

Every detail, down to the durable building materials we highlighted (concrete, wood and metal), signified strength and steadiness. In addition, exposing raw elements in the space would be representative of the church’s value of authenticity.

The final component of BRAVE’s connected story was its website design. Digital storytelling extends the spatial and strategic stories into a user’s online experience. When a church’s brand is consistent and present across every point of contact, both visitors and church members feel immersed in the same ecosystem wherever they encounter it.

My team applied BRAVE’s new branding to its church and BRAVE Academy websites, creating streamlined, functional, user-friendly sites that welcome visitors and lead them to their next steps, no matter what leg of the journey they find themselves on.

BRAVE’s goal was to create a connected story that not only communicates its brand, vision, mission and values clearly; but challenges every person who encounters it to authentically step into the role God created them to fulfill. 

Learn more about BRAVE Church at BraveChurch.online, and BRAVE Academy at Rock.BraveChurch.co/ba.

Mel McGowan
Mel McGowanhttps://plainjoestudios.com/

Mel McGowan is an Outreach Magazine contributing editor and the co-founder and chief creative principal of PlainJoe Studios, a multidisciplinary design firm focused on storytelling from branding to building. He also is the author of Design Intervention: Revolutionizing Sacred Space (PlainJoe Studios) and serves as an adjunct professor at California Baptist University’s College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design.