Karen and Fred Lamb tried to do their homework before investing their savings in an Indiana company’s fund to help churches build or expand. After talking with church friends and checking out Alanar Inc. on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website, they decided the firm’s goals and beliefs meshed with their own.

“It was a good place where Christians would be investing in the work of other Christians,” said Karen Lamb, a 55-year-old Terre Haute, Ind., housewife.