Years ago, I remember discovering that my GCSE-bound youth group had never even heard of Nehemiah. The next Sunday we did a session on “Nehemiah shows you how to pass your exams”. Result: 100% attendance! They won’t ever forget him now!
Nehemiah’s story exemplifies all sorts of vital principles: thinking ahead; trusting God; calculating costs; not panicking; knowing which voices to listen to... Teach the story differently through video clips including Legomation or Playpeople (quite funny, this one, with Darth Vader cast as Sanballat). For your own preparation consult Bibledex, Bible Archaeology Review, Bible-teaching-about and the great Ray Stedman’s down-to-earth sermon on the subject.
Maps are important in this story: do a Google search on “Babylon to Jerusalem” and “Nehemiah’s Jerusalem”, then take your pick. Emphasise that this isn’t just a story; in 2007 we found remains of the wall Nehemiah built (more detail here).
Finally, show how Nehemiah’s story inspired the Nehemiah Project (video also below) where churches have regenerated inner city slums. And ask: what can you learn from Nehemiah that will help you this week?
They still might not pass their exams. But they will remember Nehemiah!