Friday, May 2, 2008

Crown Financial Ministries

Many years ago, I found out about a non-profit organization called Crown Financial Ministries by hearing their radio programs on a Christian radio station. I would tune in while driving somewhat frequently and enjoyed what I heard. I always thought that the program was interesting and promoted good information. It wasn't until about five years ago, however, that I discovered Crown Financial Ministries consisted of so much more than the radio programs.

What is Crown Financial Ministries?
Crown Financial Ministries is a large, non-profit, interdenominational, global ministry that has existed for over 32 years and has served over 50 million people in more than 40 nations. They offer many wonderful tools, resources, and services - many of them free - dealing primarily with biblical financial principles. Their flagship resource is the well-known Money Map - a seven step guide for personal financial planning.

What does Crown offer?
Crown promotes and/or provides free learning opportunities through host churches and individual Christian volunteers. These opportunities include one-on-one personal financial coaching, group and individual Bible studies about finances, financial seminars, and so forth. Resources produced and/or published by Crown include video workshops, books and audiobooks, software and online resources, and more.

Free stuff!
Best of all Crown provides many very useful tools and resources for free (see links at the end of this post). For example, Crown provides: an interactive online version of the Money Map, many informative articles and pamphlets, podcasting and download of their daily radio programs, financial calculators, forms and charts, and more. Additionally, personal Money Map coaching, group studies, seminars and other services provided by host churches and authorized individuals are only permitted by Crown on the condition that these services are provided free of charge for participants and that they are not used as a front to promote or sell other financial services or products.

How does Crown compare to other alternatives?
As previously mentioned, Crown Financial Ministries is a non-profit organization. While they have many free resources, they also sell several products. Due to the focus of their mission, however, the prices of Crown products are incredibly reasonable - certainly far less than the value of these wonderful resources. Therefore, I believe Crown to be preferable to popular alternatives because they are not merely out to make money by selling me something. At the same time, their products and services remain second to none.

In addition to the tremendous quality and utility of their products and services (free or otherwise), I personally prefer Crown over other alternatives because of the biblical principles that are promoted. Tithing, stewardship, contentment, family duty, and so forth are not just sub-points. These and other biblical principles are the foundation upon which all Crown resources and services are established. The uniqueness of Crown is that they provide excellent sound technical information regarding personal financial practices that are congruent with the biblical and ethical principles upon which the organization is anchored.

Is Crown appropriate for Apostolic church ministries?
Apostolics are often - for mostly good reasons - skeptical or reluctant in regards to implementing ideas, resources, services, and so forth from non-Apostolic sources. In my experience, there is not a cause for concern with respect to Crown Financial Ministries. Crown focuses purely on financial related topics. They do not promote any particular doctrine and are not aligned with any particular religious denomination, organization, or movement. Crown does promote adherence to the Bible and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And, they approach these themes in a way that should not be objectionable to Apostolics. Best of all, Crown encourages a certain degree of flexibility in using their materials. So, it is relatively easy to work in points from an Apostolic perspective, where applicable.

I have personally read nearly all of the recent materials published by Crown. I have also completed the Money Map Coach Training Course and attended the Money Map Coach Training Workshop. At no time did I get even the slightest sense that utilizing Crown resources was in any way contradictory to they goals of Apostolic ministry. Quite the contrary, I strongly believe that Crown resources can: (1) increase the potential for giving in the church (Crown reports figures up to 20%), (2) lead to financial stability and success for church members, and (3) serve as an effective tool for community outreach and public relations (Crown will even refer interested people to Crown Money Map coaches in a local church who have completed the required training).

At River of Life I have used the Crown Money Map and other resources to teach a five week financial seminar to our entire congregation. I have also implemented many of the financial principles I learned from Crown into individual and group counseling. I have received much positive feedback in this regard. We hope to expand individual Money Map coaching at River of Life (for church members and community contacts alike) and begin offering small groups featuring Crown DVD workshops in the near future.

Links for FREE Crown Financial Ministries resources: - Interactive, online version of the Money Map. Create a free login and document your "journey to true financial freedom." - The official Crown Financial Ministries Website containing many free resources including:
Crown Spending Plan (pdf) - A good overview of Crown's teachings containing many great tips for saving and spending wisely.

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