Money matters from the bible

Extensive media coverage has been given to the current global economic downturn and many Australian businesses and households are feeling its affect. How does the Bible shape our view of these challenging economic times? How does its message contrast with a culture of materialism, greed and debt? 

Crown Financial Ministries Australia is a ministry helping local churches learn, teach and apply Biblical financial principles. In this interview, Trevor Owens, Crown Australia’s Honorary Company Secretary, speaks about their ministry and how Baptist Churches can use these valuable teaching resources.

PRAC: Tell us a bit about your journey in life and how you came to become connected with Crown Financial Ministries.
Trevor: I was born into a Christian home in 1937 and asked Jesus into my life at age ten. Over the years I’ve been involved in Sunday schools, youth groups, church leadership and stewardship ministries. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife, three children and seven grandchildren.Career-wise, I spent twenty years in accounting, sales and management, followed by thirty years as CEO of para-church welfare organisations. Even before I stopped paid employment, God was preparing me for voluntary service with Crown Financial Ministries, fuelling my passion to see people know Christ more intimately and serve Him more freely.

Who is Crown Financial Ministries and what does the organisation do?
Crown began in the USA some thirty years ago and now operates in around thirty countries.One of its founders, Howard Dayton, calculated that the Bible contained 2,350 verses relating to money and possessions. He wrote a book called Your Money Counts and produced Bible study courses based on the book’s content. We call these courses “Foundations for Life” because they cover a range of vital life issues such as debt, counsel, work, giving, investing, and contentment.

Why should churches bother with issues of money and financial planning? Shouldn’t we simply focus on the gospel?
God knows that our money and possessions are major competitors with Christ for lordship of our lives, and we are accountable to Him for how we use our time, talents and treasures on this earth. Managing our money according to God’s teaching is an essential part of honouring Him with our whole lives.

Given the Bible has a lot to say about money and materialism, why do Christians get into financial strife?
The Bible teaches that God owns all things, yet many Christians have not been taught how to manage what God has entrusted to them. They rarely consult God on financial decisions and they are heavily influenced by the attitudes and temptations of a materially wealthy society…with disastrous consequences both personally and financially.

Some branches of the Christian church have asserted there is a relationship between financial generosity and financial prosperity. How do you respond to that?
The Bible counsels that Christians are to be faithful givers whether they have a lot or a little, and that God will provide for and prosper people who contribute to His work out of their love for Him. The degree of individual “prosperity” will vary – it is entirely at God’s discretion. We need to learn to be content in all circumstances in order to fully experience His blessing.
Some Christians get nervous when churches start talking about money. Some people think the church talks too much about money. How do you respond to this?
Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible have a lot to say about managing money. It is a necessary part of the practical application of our faith. God entrusts resources to each individual, and he uses those resources to complete His Kingdom work. Jesus constantly spoke about our responsibility to care for the poor. He told us to build up treasures in heaven by giving to the Lord’s work on earth. Living according to Biblical commands and principles regarding money is essential for experiencing life in all its fullness.

How do local churches use Crown’s teaching resources most effectively?
Churches can choose to use either an eight part DVD Series or a more in depth nine-session Bible Study in a small group setting. Proper use of the prayer log is very important for both options. In addition to the teaching courses, Crown can provide preaching aids for Pastors, a seminar DVD that introduces the teaching content in six ten-minute segments, and a short promo DVD to advertise courses in church services.

What has been the response from participants in Crown courses?
The overwhelming response is that the courses have been life changing. Participants have a clearer picture of what it means to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. I have found that participants do well to accept the Biblical passages in the material and allow the Holy Spirit to do His interpreting work. If a group member struggles with a particular passage, I encourage them to prayerfully seek counsel from a pastor and from God. If we come with a teachable heart, the outcome is invariably positive.

Is Crown only applicable for Christians, or is it something a church could run as an outreach beyond the church community?
Crown’s main aim is to teach the Christian community but what the Bible says about finances and other life issues can apply to anyone. Some churches offer special courses to their local community along with budget coaching. Crown resources are excellent evangelistic tools. Non-church goers and non-believers discover that many of the good principles practised in our society have Biblical origins.

How do churches contact Crown and how much do resources cost?
We aim to make Crown materials affordable and user-friendly. Leader’s guides, seminar guides and suggested answers to Biblical questions are all provided free of charge. Small group facilitators do not need theological training. They need a love for the Lord and the ability to foster good group dynamics.


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