Is the church building supposed to look modern, trendy, traditional or sterile? The answer of course lies in the DNA, the actual identity of the church.
I believe that this goes beyond trying to look friendly to visitors, or “cool” the culture around you. The decor/style of a church building is often determined by what the existing building looks like and what the taste of the Pastor and/or leadership team likes.
There are many churches that do what I refer to as “putting lipstick on a pig”. The existing building is dated and rather than address they entire problem and do an “extreme makeover” a fresh coat of colorful paint is slapped on, or new trendy carpet is laid down. This is usually done without a plan for the future and from the moment it is done it looks totally out of place.
I recognize that there is often not budget to do an “extreme makeover” all at one time.
However I always recommend that a professional interior (or exterior) designer should be involved from the beginning. The designer should give an overall plan for the space and help progress you through the steps and order to get where you want to go.
Also, because I believe the look of the building needs to fit the overall brand of the church, I suggest that you have your graphics design person involved in this process as well.
A big mistake I see happen all to often with churches is all of the elements of the ministry do not fit together well. The building will have one look and feel, the marketing materials a different look and feel and the signage and graphics that go on the screen will have a completely different feel.
You can often tell a church, and most organizations for that matter, that do not have a good central communications approach. This is most noticed when you visit the churches website and all of the appropriate “stock photos” have been used. Everyone looks young and beautiful, the representation on the website is of a diverse multicultural feel. There are kids laughing and smiling everywhere. When you show up on Sunday morning to visit you drive by the church and don't even notice it because the church is an old building (you expected something more contemporary because of the logo and website) and there also is poor, or no signage.
You decide to give it a try anyway as “who can tell a book by its cover,” right? When you get inside all you see is a homogenous group with the average age well past 50 years old, and there aren't any children in sight. Additionally, the bullitten looks like the same one used for the last 50 years, and the shag carpet reminds you of your grandma's house. I am obviously exaggerating here. Or am i?
The point is really this; In our culture, fashion is really important, everyone wants to look their best. They want to always portray themselves at least at their very best, or hopefully even better than they really are.
In constrast, when looking for a Church people want things to be real. They themselves may even be trying to look better than they are, but what people are really longing for is something that is authentic and transparent.
So when it comes to fashion in the church be consistent to who you are as a church. Stick true to your DNA and put an image out there that is consistent, positive but also real.