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Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.

Hannah Arendt
You can create a business, choose a name, but unless people know about it you're not going to sell any products.

Richard Branson
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Your Space Can Tell Powerful Stories |

October 10, 2019

Great spaces, art and stories let us join God in reflecting his image. For thousands of years most people have believed in the holy trinity of universal transcendentals: truth, goodness and beauty. Plato connected these three properties of being with […]

The Life-Changing Power of Storytelling |

June 23, 2019

Story forms who we are, and story has the ability to transform who we can become. Story is at the core of the human condition. From the earliest cavemen to a contemporary campfire, each generation passes on collective and individual […]

A Desert Oasis | Canyon Ridge Christian Church |

May 23, 2019

A church in the desert wanted its campus to reflect the biblical concept of the path that draws people to Jesus, disciples them toward holiness, and leads them out to make a difference in the world. In this article, originally […]

The Star in the Heart of Singapore |

May 14, 2019

New Creation Church takes an innovative approach to its new facility. What if the church could gather in the hearts of our cities and towns, rather than in suburban industrial parks, separated behind seas of asphalt parking lots? What if […]

Telling the Story of the Bible |

March 27, 2019

As God’s story from eternity past to eternity future, the biblical narrative is also very much our story—the true history of the world written down for mankind to learn from, obey and cherish. Not only that, the history of the […]

Restoration Roasters Helps Transform Lives Through Coffee |

January 13, 2019

The Corona, California, coffee shop is staffed by volunteers and residents of the Corona-Norco Rescue Mission. One thing I have learned over my two decades of working with ministries around the world is that shift happens. For example, I have […]


New Vintage Church Restores Historic Theater For Church And Community |

October 22, 2018

When we were asked to help redesign an abandoned, historic theater in Escondido, California, we were excited to help New Vintage Church transform a site that had been ruined and rejected into a renewed place of worship and arts for the community. In […]


September 11, 2018

We couldn’t be happier for our client, Mosaic Church in Winter Park, Florida. Their incredible passion led them to build a garden in the city that became a nurturing space for worship and community. In this article originally posted on, […]

Restoring The Ritz, An Historic Art Deco Theater |

August 2, 2018

PlainJoe is excited to be part of restoring The Ritz, an historic, art deco theater in downtown Escondido, California. A recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune tells the story of the behind-the-scenes efforts to make the dream a reality. […]

Sneak Peek – Bayside Granite Bay Redesign |

May 3, 2018

PlainJoe is taking part in Thrive Leadership 2018, “3 Days That Will Ignite Your Passion and Recharge Your Leadership.” It’s an honor to join leaders, dreamers, and doers like Louie Giglio, Aja Brown, Scott Harrison, Bob Goff, and Levi Lusko. […]

First Impressions Conference – May 1-3, 2018 |

April 30, 2018

PlainJoe is excited to support the upcoming First Impressions Conference, a 3-day event to help you improve your church’s first-time guest experience. The conference (May 1-3, 2018) features sessions by pastors and guest services thought-leaders and experts, along with panels […]

PlainJoe at Q 2018 – An Art Apologetic |

April 3, 2018

Christian thought-leaders and change-makers will gather in Nashville for Q 2018, a conference produced by Q-Ideas and focused on equipping leaders for the challenge of evangelism and culture-shaping in a post-modern age. PlainJoe’ Chief Creative Officer, Mel McGowan, joins a […]

PlainJoe Co-Founder, Peter McGowan is speaking at the Inaugural Conference of The Academy of Church Leadership |

January 10, 2018

PlainJoe Co-Founder, Peter McGowan is speaking at the Inaugural Conference of The Academy of Church Leadership. The conference, focusing on church communications, promises to help congregations realize their full potential with insights and skills in the areas of social media, […]


Design Group Celebrates Launches of 3 Diverse Church Projects |

December 28, 2017

CORONA, CA, December 28, 2017 – PlainJoe, a unique architecture and multi-discipline design group, celebrated the completion and opening of three distinct church renovation design projects completed in Q4. The projects, located coast-to-coast in Los Angeles, Tulsa, and Orlando, provided […]

Blurring Lines Between Ministry And Marketplace – Darren Sloniger |

December 19, 2017

What do you get when you cross a pastor with an urban-planner? An opportunity to blend ministry and marketplace for churches across the country. Darren Sloniger is a Christian leader who uses his talent and experience in real estate development […]

Lighting Up The Valley – Shepherd Church, Porter Ranch, CA |

December 1, 2017

What does a church do to engage a community as vast and diverse as Los Angeles? PlainJoe had the opportunity to serve one of the largest churches in the region by providing spatial-storytelling and environmental design for their most expansive […]

4 Signs Your Church Needs a Brand Architecture Overhaul |

October 13, 2017

How well is your church managing its brand? “Brand Architecture” isn’t a term you hear often in the church world, but it’s a concept you experience every day–everywhere you go.   A great working definition of brand architecture is “the […]

Transforming Cities And People: The Orchard Develops Urban Space For Church And Community |

October 8, 2017

5 Signs You Need to Update Your Church Website |

September 26, 2017

If your church has a website, that means you’re ahead of the game, right? Not necessarily. Chances are that your site probably needs to be updated and here are five places that need the most attention.   1) Flow Church […]

3 Facility Upgrade Strategies That Can Help Your Church Grow (and Spend Less on Posters & Flyers) |

September 25, 2017

God is a God of “place-based” community. In fact, the book of Leviticus takes a deep dive into the specific features God wanted the Israelites to pay attention to as they built their community. From the overarching concept of the […]

Design Intervention: Australian Churches Explore New Environments |

September 25, 2017

As I write this, I’m flying across the island continent of Australia after having spent more than a week uncovering what God is up to in this amazing corner of his creation. Outside of Sydney, I had a chance to […]

Church Renews Its Discipleship Strategy, Story And Space |

September 25, 2017

A century-old Free Methodist church founded in 1908 in the middle of Washington state was not the most likely church home and mission field for 35-year-old Mike Wilson. He and I had collaborated on multiple campus expansions of the fast-growing […]

Mosaic Church starts demo |

September 25, 2017

Demolition is set for this week on a long-closed, Winter Garden department store that will be rebuilt as Mosaic Community Church’s main campus. Now located off the West Orange Trail in Oakland, the church purchased a building with 78,000 square […]

Florida Church Looks To Re-create The Lost Vision Of Eden In Disney’s Backyard |

September 25, 2017

Almost five decades ago, a storyteller named Walt Disney took what he had learned about the intersection of story and space and “imagineered” a Disney World roughly the same size as San Francisco and twice the size of Manhattan in […]

Northern Lights Above La: California Church’s New Design Shines As A City On A Hill |

September 14, 2017

At the northwest corner of the City of Angels, Shepherd Church has grown to become one of the largest churches in Los Angeles with nearly 10,000 people a week gathering at one of its four campuses. Its roots date back […]

PlainJoe celebrates one year anniversary of Spatial Storytelling/Architecture Studio |

August 18, 2017

Corona, Calif. | August 1, 2017 – Multi-Disciplinary Design company PlainJoe has expanded its Spatial Storytelling services to include Architecture, Master Planning, Urban Design, Interior Design, Show Set Design, Experiential Graphics, Wayfinding, Museum/Exhibit Design, and Themed/Attraction Design. Initiated by the […]

PlainJoe builds innovative dream team of creative experts |

August 18, 2017

Corona, Calif. | July 31, 2017 – PlainJoe, a Multi-Disciplinary Design company, has welcomed heavy-hitting industry experts to its team over the past year. Disney Alumni Mel McGowan and his brother, Peter, founded PlainJoe in 2001 with the vision of […]

Processed Foods Are Killing the Local Church… |

May 4, 2017

Story is core to the human condition. We use story to connect with family, friends, and even strangers. Story drives our entertainment, leads our culture, and has embedded itself in nearly every facet of our lives.   We’re all familiar […]

4 Practical Ways to Cultivate a Creative Church |

January 26, 2017

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re with a pastor friend when he tells the story of how he recently preached a sermon that included a physical illustration or creative element that made it sound like he has a team […]


Combining Past And Future: Eastside Christian Church In California |

September 4, 2016

I first got to know Gene Appel more than 15 years ago when I was still at Disney. Since then, I have had the privilege of serving him and calling him friend as he has journeyed from Central Christian Church […]

Christian Standard Media interviews Mel McGowan |

July 19, 2016


CORONA: Coffee company created to aid rescue mission |

August 20, 2015

People don’t realize how many people touch a coffee bean before it gets brewed. That was the insight of Blake Ryan in founding Restoration Roasters, one of the newcomers to the Inland coffee scene that is building social consciousness into […]

CORONA: Miguel’s Jr. ‘spokeschip’ has a delicious sense of humor |

May 8, 2015

Burritos aren’t easy to draw. Neither are tacos. That’s one of the reasons Miguel’s Jr. has a talking tortilla chip as its cartoon mascot. That’s what Bruce Mayo, creator of Reynaldo the “spokeschip,” said in a phone interview. Mayo is […]

One Man Built The Ultimate Bed For Star Wars Fans |

May 6, 2015

In a bedroom far, far away, one lucky kid gets to sleep in the coolest Star Wars-themed bed around. The “Millennium Falcon Cockpit” bed was created by Peter McGowan of PlainJoe, who built the amazing contraption for his son. McGowan […]

There’s No Reason To Ever Get Out of a Millennium Falcon Bed |

May 1, 2015

Finding the motivation to crawl out of bed to face work, school, or even sunlight is hard enough. But imagine the herculean task of getting up in the morning when your bed is a near perfect replica of the Millennium […]


Imagination |

December 17, 2014

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.” – George Bernard Shaw It’s not only essential to entrepreneurs, artists, architects, musicians and authors – […]


Trends vs Timeless Design |

September 28, 2012

4 Principles for Hiring Creatives |

September 26, 2012


Amid buses, limos and descendants, Mob Experience unveiled (in part) at the Trop |

June 10, 2010

Those artists from Visioneering Studios are wizards with “experiential” imagery. They’re pretty fair with words, too. “The gangster ghosts will be the hosts,” Visioneering Studios President Mel McGowan said Tuesday morning during a news conference formally announcing that the long-discussed […]