Bethesda Community Church in Fort Worth, Texas, has a thriving Spanish-speaking congregation. Since Immerse is available in English and Spanish it allows the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking church members to journey together through God’s Word. Hear how the Spanish-speaking members of the congregation have grown using this revolutionary experience.Read More
Hear Southern Wesleyan University Professor Andrea Summers and her students talk about the impact of reading Immerse: MessiahRead More
Hear what members of the Bethesda Community Church in Texas have to say about using Immerse: The Bible Reading ExperienceRead More
Hear from pastors at Bethesda Community Church in Texas including senior Pastor J. Daniel Smith as he describes how they ‘north-winded’ Immerse church-wide.Read More
An older woman in my church lamented to me that she loves to read – and reads everything! – but that she struggles to read the Bible. My response was immediate because I knew just what she needed – “I have the perfect thing for you!” I gave her my set of Immerse Bibles. A few weeks later, she found me at church, and with a twinkle in her eye, she told me she had been reading the Immerse Bible and that reading God’s Word in this way had become joyful and rewarding.
Thanks so much for creating this resource! It is making a difference!
My name is Ben Tameling, and I am a Bible teacher at Grandville Calvin Christian High School. I am writing to express my enthusiasm for the Immerse: The Reading Bible series created by the members of the Institute for Bible Reading and published by Tyndale Publishers. For the first time this semester, I used the Kingdoms book for my Old Testament Survey class and the Messiah book for my New Testament Survey class. In both cases, it reinvigorated my teaching and my students’ approach to the Bible. What struck me so positively from this experience are the following three qualities.
First, my students and I really appreciated and enjoyed the “user-friendly” format of Immerse. I had several students remark that reading the Bible this way felt less intimidating. As a Bible teacher who personally loves reading and studying the Bible, this comment blew me away at first, but then I began to see where students were coming from: all of the study notes, cross references, and footnotes in many well-meaning “study Bibles” end up distracting young people from actually reading the text itself. Reading both a large portion of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament using this format helped students focus on the grander narrative. The introductions to each book gave us helpful historical and cultural context for each book, but then we were off and running, uninhibited by the clutter of so many gigantic Study Bibles.
Second, I enjoyed having student discussion lead the class rather than my own preconceived agenda. I still did and do a lot of planning, whether it be formulating “unit maps” to help introduce major concepts in biblical books, summarizing key learning targets, or putting together “recaps” to help students review together, to name just a few things. But allowing students to “immerse” themselves in Scripture allowed me as a teacher to let students’ observations and reactions drive the class. As their guide, I encouraged them to ask questions continually as they read and for them to share those in small groups, whole class discussion, and in their weekly journal reflections that I required. This last technique was a great way for me to keep up with students as they read, dialoguing with them along the way and prodding them to keep asking great questions as they sought to connect the dots throughout the Story. In short, it was fun to explore a balance between pouring a foundation for them to build off of and then letting them go to work as they read and shared their own perspectives.
Third, going along with the above points about the user-friendly format and the student-driven dialogue, I believe using Immerse has allowed students to work toward a more holistic understanding of the Bible rather than see it as a series of disconnected “devotional chunks”. In my experience using Kingdoms, students could now approach the account of the Israelites entering and then exiting the Promised Land as part of a Story, more like an absorbing, tragic novel rather than a tedious textbook. Likewise with Messiah: suddenly all of the teachings and miracles of Jesus flowed together into a discernible storyline conveyed similarly yet differently by each Gospel writer. And rather than rush as a teacher to try and make each and every passage “applicable”, it was fun to watch students make connections between then and now themselves.
All in all, I am so glad that I was made aware of Immerse: The Reading Bible and can’t wait to keep exploring ways to integrate it into my other classes, refining and honing my own skills as a teacher to help open up the Bible to students, and in turn being blessed by what they teach me through this experience of reading communally.
Grandville Calvin Christian High School
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St. John’s Lutheran Church
Why did you do Immerse?
As a pastor, I wanted people to be involved in God’s Word, reading or listening to it for themselves. While a number of my members use a daily devotional, I thought the format of a verse taken out of context and a couple paragraphs of explanation was insufficient. The book-club format of Immerse was low-pressure enough that I thought I could get people involved.
What were some challenges? How did you handle them?
In spite of everything I did, I couldn’t get people to act as facilitators for the groups. I finally announced one group would meet Wednesday nights, and invited everybody to that one, and encouraged any other group to meet on their own.
The first night we had more than 20 people show up. Then some older members approached me and asked if they could meet during the day. Their only condition was that they wanted me there in their group as well!
Of the 50 people that signed up for an Immerse Bible, I think we had 20 meet in groups that I was involved in, and a number of them simply did the readings on their own at home.
We all struggled with the amount of readings and time management involved in keeping up with the schedule. We also all agreed that it was a good thing to struggle with and all made adjustments in our lives to have daily Bible reading in our lives.
We are seriously looking at Immerse: Beginnings as our next experience, perhaps with a 16-week schedule instead of 8.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely. A number of our participants told me their felt they understood the New Testament better than they had before. We had some great discussions, and we all agreed this was worth it.Read More