Church often gets a bad rap. Yeah, most of us have what I call our church "owies" — those hurtful things that happen to us along the way. And yes, sometimes we can fuss and fight over the most inconsequential things. But if you take a long look through history, hospitals, education, fresh water, famine relief, orphanages, sponsorships, and a host of other things are part of the Church's resume. More than religious stuff, God's people have left a legacy of noble and gracious deeds to bless the church.

But if the story of Jesus' birth reminds us of anything, it is this: we've got to get out of our safe and secure boxes and enter the world with God's love!

So, as part of my participation in some measure with the idea behind Advent Conspiracy —, I wanted to point you in the direction of several ideas that can help you and your church get out of the box and become a CWOW — a Church Without Walls!

Here are just a few ideas, and also great ways to make Christmas be more than an economic stimulus plan for retailers.

Take your service to others outside the Box with WATS
WATS stands for "we are the sermon." This is a day where all the church goes into the community and serves. Your church becomes the sermon rather than simply hearing one that Sunday. Here is a brief explanation of WATS and the following is a brief video report of WATS 2008 at the church that started it. There are now "We are the Sermon" Days in churches all over the U.S.A. and in several foreign countries.

CWOW Home Make Over
A group of design professionals and building contractors and their friends help those in need. Great idea, great team, and a way to get out of the box and bless those who have needs but are helping others! This is truly a CWOW effort. Plus, they have a cool video!

cWOW Design Stars from Newsong Media on Vimeo.

Of course there other ways that you and your fellow believers can help that are cool. Following are two that you can do individually, or as a team.

Compassion International Child Sponsorship
This is something our family believes in — we sponsor three children and I have been to Uganda on a Compassion sponsored trip with other Internet types and even gotten to meet one of the children we sponsor. Go to the Compassion site and find a child to bless. I don't think you will ever be quite the same again. Below is a video of my visit to one of our sponsored children.

Micro Loans to Help folks Help Themselves
Micro loans are special ways we can help folks get started in business to support their families and have the dignity of providing for themselves through their own work. Several organizations are worthy of consideration as Micro Loan resources. Here is one with whom I'm familiar, KIVA: loans that change lives.

So, take a step to get out of the church box and into the world. It's the real theme of Jesus' coming to earth and it's for sure a way to keep Christ in Christmas!

If you have comments or other ideas on how to better serve folks this season, and throughout the year, I'd love to get your comments on my blog: