Summary: A giving church is filled with people who have fully given their lives to God.

- I once read of a farmer who went to the office of a televangelist and asked if he could see "the Head Hog of the Trough."

The receptionist was offended and said in response, "Sir, if you're talking about our beloved minister, you may call him Reverend or Pastor, but I don't think it would be proper to refer to him as 'Head Hog of the Trough."

"Well, all right," said the farmer, "I just sold a few sows and was going to donate ten thousand dollars to the building fund, so I was hoping to catch him. But obviously I have offended you."

"Oh, no, no, just a minute sir, I think the Big Pig just walked in."

- Well, unfortunately this is how many people view the church. Always wanting, always asking for more. Always taking. Sometimes it is unfair and not true, but often, their are churches that are rightfully given the label of a taker. I know when we began the process of building the parsonage, all of us as leaders were extremely careful how we worded things. We didn't want to give the impression that we were trying to manipulate money out of people. We didn't want people to gain a view of this church as a "Taking Church." Because that is not what the church is supposed to be.

- In fact, the church that we see in the NT, and the church that the world needs is completely opposite. The church of the NT is a Giving Church. A church that is willing to sacrifice of itself, give of itself, offer something to those in need, to those doing God's work, to those who are hurting, who are searching. One of the greatest tragedies is when the church seeks to take and not give.

- In fact, the picture the book of Act paints is that of a Giving Church. For instance,

Acts 2:42-45

Acts 4:32

Acts 6:1-4

- It is this mark of giving that should be seen in us. This church should be one that is viewed by others, without hesitation, as a church that seeks to give generously. So how do we do this? How can we be a church that is marked with the same attributes as the early church of Acts? How can we be a Giving Church? One that is overwhelmingly known by the world, by the community as a church that does not seek to take, but to give?

- Well, obviously the first place to start is "The Giving of our Money." Now I realize that when it comes to the topic of money, it is never a popular subject. Maybe some of you cringed when you heard me use the "M" word... and I don't mean the Mets. But it doesn't have to be this way, and it shouldn't be this way. Money, when used properly, can be a great blessing to us, our families, and the church. Money doesn't have to be a bad word. Money only becomes dangerous and a curse when we live our lives in a way that is marked by the love of money. When we become selfish with our money, when we become greedy always wanting more, never satisfied with what we have, wanting to cling to it, to trust in it. That is when money can corrupt us and corrupt the church.

- Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy, "People (churches) who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people (churches), eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

- It is true for us on a personal level, and it is true for us as a church. Churches can be guilty of having a love for money. And when that happens, then evil things are sure to follow. Perhaps, instead of using the word people in the text I just read, I could substitute the word churches....

- Now listen, I realize that it takes money to do things. In order to run a youth group, it takes money. In order to do our various children's ministries it takes money. In order to maintain a church building and a parsonage, it takes money. I know that, you know that. This is why we expect those who are members of this church to give a portion of their income to the church. But the reason you give, and the reason this church collects an offering, is not so that we can sit on it, and watch it build up, and see how much we can get and take. But, the reason we give of our money, is so that the church can give in return.

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