Church Building Projects: How to Prioritize Needs vs. Wants

Category | Construction

At some point during a church building project, most ministries find it necessary to trim their plans to fit their available funding. The best way to prepare for this eventuality is by taking time to prioritize your needs and wants early in the process to set expectations. 

The concept is simple: When initial vision meetings begin, bring in team members from each ministry area and create two separate lists, an essentials list and a dream-build list.

Essentials List

This list will include the most basic, essential parts of your building project, such as the minimum amount of space and number of seats you’ll need in your new facility. For this list and depending on your church’s culture, plans for the children’s area may need to be simplified or the AVL system downgraded. The main focus is simply to put your basic needs down on paper and, most importantly, well within your budget.

Dream-Build List

This is where you and your team can have fun. This list can contain all of the extras you left off the essentials list. Go ahead and include that bigger, better AVL system, state-of-the-art children’s center, and café your First Impressions leader is pining for. Also list the approximate cost of each item. The total amount needed to complete all items on the list will likely seem impossible to reach, but for now, just focus on getting the team working together and excited for the fundraising and building project.


This step is a bit tougher, but it is a great exercise in project management. Encourage the team to look at the overall project and assess which ideas from the dream-build list will be most beneficial to your ministry’s mission and values. This will look different for every church. Assign each item on the list a number from one to five. Items listed as “1” will be the first added back to the essentials list if extra funding becomes available. Items listed as “5” will still be important but perhaps the least likely to be afforded unless major fundraising goals are met.

You can use these lists to communicate with your congregation. By understanding all the possibilities of the project, congregants may be encouraged to increase their offerings because they’ll see exactly what their extra dollars can help provide.

If you would like assistance in your prioritization process, give us a call at 888.829.6877 or email We would love to help.

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