I have had the pleasure of attending quite a few different churches. I went to a Quaker vacation bible school as a kid (that is a story all in itself), and later as a teenager, I would often join friends at whatever youth group activities they were doing. I was exposed to everything from Baptists to Baha'i. Add in various weddings and funerals over the years, and I've seen many places of worship. Experiencing so many places helped give me that first push to the Catholic faith.
Because to me, a church must be beautiful.
Call me shallow, but I need to feel a physical sense of awe and reverence where I worship. I can understand that for some people, austere "plain" churches help them focus on what is important. It's the allegory of the school uniform. Strip away physical aesthetics so that only the mental aspects remain.
To me, the stained glass windows, the carved marble, the soaring architecture - it all reflects the divine. And it makes me feel small in comparison to something so beautiful. It helps put things in perspective, and gives me a feeling of awe and reverence that I need to worship. This doesn't necessarily mean that old, Gothic churches are always best. I was really moved by Matisse's work for Chapel of the Rosary when I saw a portion of his work at the Met. It reminds me of Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all."
Source: Aesthetic Apperceptions
As a Catholic, I believe that Christ is present at the mass. Why shouldn't we honor that presence with beauty? For me, beauty is an extension of reverence, a way of exploring the divine - and experiencing it opens yourself to God in ways you may not experience during your day to day life. Shouldn't being in the presence of Christ take your breath away?
So perhaps it may be considered "shallow," but to me, a church must be breathtakingly beautiful, or it doesn't feel like church.
I won't get started on how I need rituals and traditions, or we will be here all night. No, really, you can ask my mother the fits I throw when she tries to alter my much-loved family traditions. I like my routines!