How to use a car wash to reach a community


Grace Church, a multi-site church meeting in Chichester, Bognor Regis, Midhurst and Havant, has always sought to find innovative ways to engage with the community. From community fun days to showing free films in the open air, the church has gained a reputation in the local area for such events.  In November 2018 the church took possession of a former ambulance station in Chichester. Now known as the Grace Centre, it will serve as a resource centre for the whole church as well as a Sunday meeting place for the Chichester site.

Saturday May 11th saw the building receive a throughput of vehicles for one last time. However, this time it wasn’t ambulances that were driving through the building but private cars. The church set up a Car Wash for the day, and over four hours washed 80 cars.


In July of last year planning permission was granted to convert the building into a meeting venue. Prior to undertaking the first phase of the building programme, we took the opportunity to invite passers-by to have their cars washed for £1. However, once inside the building, not only were cars washed, and coffee and biscuits provided, but rather than paying a pound people were offered a shiny £1 coin as a free gift.

David Thompson, who leads the team at Grace Church, said, “We wanted to express something of God’s generosity to us. So, in addition to washing their cars for free, we also gave them £1 for the privilege and people were totally bowled over by the gesture. We had many fantastic conversations with people about the grace of God, and were able to put the Grace Centre well and truly on the map.”

People also had the opportunity to view the plans for renovation of the building. Although work will be phased over a number of years, we hope to complete basic alterations enabling the use of the building for Sunday meetings by the end of the year.

Catherine Butcher