An Urban Ministry Exegesis of Nehemiah (part 4 of 6)

June 21, 2012

This post is part four of a six part series titled, An Urban Ministry Exegesis of of Nehemiah. This blog series explores the biblical book of Nehemiah about how a leader starts and leads a successful project. Most of the application is tied to inner city ministry.


Three days after arriving in Jerusalem, Nehemiah “slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem.”[1]

An Urban Ministry Exegesis of Nehemiah
There are three key things we can observe here as Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem that relate to the urban ministry context.

  1. Nehemiah waits before he works. The author and Nehemiah himself make it very clear that when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem he waits three days before doing anything.
  2. Nehemiah does his research. Nehemiah takes time to go around to inspect the “broken walls and burned gates.”[2] John Fuder, who has 14 years of experience in urban ministries notices, “When Nehemiah gets the news about the state of despair of Jerusalem, he goes out and conducts research, thoroughly ‘inspecting the walls’.”[3] 
  3. Nehemiah intentionally does not tell others why he is there. We see this when Nehemiah writes, “The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders-the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration.”[4]

Nehemiah is there with the vision God has placed in his heart, and he has not told anyone about it.

We did something similar at our church as it was new to the downtown community of Turlock, California. Enclave Community Church was about two years old but had recently moved into a church building in downtown Turlock. I remember when Pastor Brian gathered the church together to do one thing: walk around the neighborhood to ask people what they thought the community needed and what the church could do about these needs. I did not realize it at the time, but similar to Nehemiah, we were “inspecting” our local community. God had put a vision in our pastor’s heart to reach the lost of the inner city of Turlock (people who were not being reached by other churches and were commonly left out of church). We were inspecting the community and listening to what we could do to help. This experience greatly helped me realize that we as a church are here to serve and care for our neighbors and that we serve those neighbors by first listening to their needs instead of defining their needs for them.

What is interesting to observe in Nehemiah’s story is not just that he listens, researches, and observes, but also how he carefully unveils his vision for the city of Jerusalem.

Question: How do you think research should be done on a vision?

                [1] Nehemiah 2:11-12

                [2] Nehemiah 2:13

                [3] John Fuder, A Heart for the Community, ed. John Fuder and Noel Castellanos (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 72.

                [4] Nehemiah 2:16

Christopher L. Scott

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."