It is an unmistakable find when reading through the book of Nehemiah. The word “we” appears thirty-eight times in thirty of the book’s 406 verses! Working together was the continuous mind-set of Judah. They knew such a mentality would ensure success (2:20).
Teamwork accomplishes much more than individual performance! If a ball team has only one “star player”, the defense wins by shutting down the one performer. If the work of the church is carried on by only one or a select few, the devil has a better chance of shutting it down. Everyone must get invested! Success hinges on it! Notice where cooperation in the local church brings spiritual success.
When We Build (4:6). Not church buildings, but relationships, knowledge, and commitment! A church has never grown on the back of massive, modern facilities. But God wants us to build up His church (1 Thess. 5:11). The more visits and calls each member makes, the better we build. The more encouragement and assistance we provide, the better we build. More Christians doing more for the Lord produces spiritual success in the church.
When We pray (4:9). Facing trouble, and uncertainty, God’s people came together to pray. This is reminiscent of the prayer meeting in the home of John Mark’s mother, “where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:12). What a success that was! At least 3,000 or so were devoting themselves to prayer at the Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42). Preachers, teachers, and missionaries are made bold, the sick and hurting are made hopeful, and those in danger, travellers, and those confused are made calm by the prayer of the saints. That is vital to spiritual success!
When We Carry On (4:21). Churches encounter setbacks and suffer defeats. Wilful sinners going out from among us (1 John 2:19), plans or programs that fizzle or die, disorderly members (2 Thess. 3:6), false teachers (2 Pet. 2: 1), apathetic members (Jn. 15:5-6), the death or loss of a church leader, or general discouragement can tempt us to give up in our labors (cf Gal. 6:9). We need each other to spur ourselves on in completing the important works that will glorify God, It is not how many defeats a church suffers, but how well a church, no matter how many “losses”, overcomes them.
When We Give (5-12; 10:37). Two interesting instances of giving are recorded in the book of Nehemiah: (1) giving to restore what was rightfully God’s (5:12) and (2) giving in the manner that God rightfully expects (10:37). Church members who go will pay a restaurant $50 for a meal, a theatre $30 for a movie (that is likely unsuitable for consumption), and the Saviour of their souls $10 or $20 need, like Zaccheus, to repent by restoring what rightfully belongs to God (Luke 19:8). Churches that give by faith and, sacrifice are always stronger for it, if their living matches their giving. God wants to be first (10:37; Matt. 6:33) and that applies to our giving.
Certainly, many other elements are needed to help a church achieve spiritual success for God. But Nehemiah and his brethren round success by working together. That spirit of unity will help us, as a church, to go forward and do things necessary for us to continue to be a great church! Let’s grow together!