As Bo Chancey arrived eight years ago as Senior Pastor of Manchester Christian Church in New Hampshire, it was a thriving congregation yet located in the second most dechurched region in America. When those surrounding you do not believe, it can be an intimidating mission field.
Bo sensed the church needed some encouragement—a way to focus their ministry efforts. This was the birth of Pray For One.
“Pray For One is a rather general prayer asking God to give you one person to share His love with,” Bo explained. It “brings the reality of Christ’s mission to your doorstep. When God gives you a name, you can’t shake it. You become consumed with sharing God’s love, and you plead with the Father for the lost to be found.”
By focusing on individuals, Manchester Christian Church has become the largest church in the state. And when 4,000 people show care and excitement for one person to come to know Christ, hearts begin to change and the community begins to notice.
Bo Chancey pictured above
Reaching the 603
Last year board member of a local private school was so moved by what he had seen from Manchester Christian Church that he approached the leadership and asked them—have you thought about coming to Concord and starting a new campus?
The significance was not lost on Bo. The area code for the state of New Hampshire is 603, so the entire church has been challenged to stop at 6:03 a.m. and 6:03 p.m. each day to pray for their state and pray for their one person. Now here they were, being invited to come and open a church campus in the capital of the state.
“We’d been praying, and we felt that this was a moving of the Spirit, providing us an amazing opportunity,” said Bo.
“Our faith is in what God is doing in His church and how He’s revealed through the worship of His people.” —@bochancey
The move not only benefits the capital city, it assists a local Christian school as well. Concord Christian Academy had begun to build yet did not have access to the funds to finish. Manchester Christian Church decided to raise the money internally to finish the performing arts center and make it fully functional. When complete, the church will use the auditorium on Sundays and the school will use it during the week.
“This is a step of faith,” said Bo. “Our faith is in what God is doing in His church and how He’s revealed through the worship of His people. That’s going to draw people to Him. So we want to have more worship services in more places to reach more people.”
Bo said the church truly has been willing to take risks and do things nontraditionally. When the leaders show the congregation how a new change could benefit their pray for one focus, the whole church is on board.
“If people actually are praying for one, and it’s not just a slogan or a rallying cry, but people are actually praying, ‘God, please give me one person to share your love with,’ there’s an expectation that the church will grow and expand and take ground.”
And not every aspect of this growth requires brick and mortar.
“Buildings are great—as long as they work—and we’re happy to use them,” Bo said. But he noted that when Manchester began showing their services live online a year ago, the growth in their online campus has been tremendous.
“To have a financial lender who cares about the gospel more than mortgages and land allows us to remain focused on our calling.”—@bochancey
The biggest hurdle was simply embracing this form of worship participation. Churches across the country have not always known how to pursue online campuses or tend to discount whether they are a “real” segment of ministry.
“Watching with a group online, you can interact with your host, pause the service, look at it again, and interact with people in the room. It’s a game changer,” Bo said. “It’s more ‘real’ than some traditional Sunday services.”
Manchester’s goal is to reach as many people as possible, and online offers a way to exponentially do that with existing resources.
Manchester Christian Church Parking team
Generosity as Worship
While the congregation continues to grow physically, they are also challenged to transition spiritually. One of those challenges is in the area of generosity.
Each summer Manchester hosts One Day of Community. They provide each student with a backpack filled with school supplies, plus there is free food, carnival events, prizes, and more.
The goal is “to provide important resources to several thousands of individuals and families in Manchester that could use a little compassion,” said Bo.
As the congregation readily offers an outward pouring of resources, there has been a learning curve when it comes to giving internally to the church. People coming to Manchester simply have not been taught that biblical concept.
“There is no culture of generosity in the state,” Bo noted. “We’re in one of the least charitable regions in the country. We have to teach our church what it means to tithe biblically as an act of worship.”
Raising funds to grow and transition their campuses, staff, and outreach efforts has been a hurdle. It has been vital, therefore, to have a financial partner on their side.
“The benefit of a financial partner like CDF is that they are fully invested in the spiritual and ministry goals of the church,” said Bo. “To have a financial lender who cares about the gospel more than mortgages and land allows us to remain focused on our calling.”
For Manchester Christian Church, that calling is being fulfilled—one person at a time.