“Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.’” — John 13:8b
Years ago, a church I served on staff hosted a community car wash. Since lots of these events are fundraisers for sports teams or mission trips, we wanted to leverage the concept of free, setting us apart from the typical Saturday morning “we’ll serve you if you pay us” car wash.
We did not even allow donations. This would be a genuinely no-strings-attached opportunity for a clean car.
Our deep desire as a church was to impact our community with the gospel. Although we prioritized what was called “lifestyle evangelism,” we realized most of our neighbors were not going to walk in the front door on a Sunday to hear the message of grace. But they might pull into the parking lot for a quick car wash on a sunny day.
I suppose we could have passed out gospel tracts or given out business cards with a QR code to our church website. But we didn’t hand out anything.
It really was a no-strings-attached, no-donations-accepted car wash.
There were no expectations for them to give anything. We wanted them to experience what it is to receive.
We discovered that to make an impact, all we needed to do was to show how the gospel is different than what folks assume about the Christian message. Call it pre-evangelism if you like, but we didn’t need to raise our voices to be heard. We didn’t organize a march or rant on social media. We didn’t even collect phone numbers or emails.
We wanted nothing from our community. We only wanted to give. To bless them with a clean car.
We’d do the work. They’d receive the blessing. And remember, no donations were accepted.
Our commitment to reject donations led to a question.
The driver of almost every car that pulled in for a car wash not only tried to make a donation but asked a question.