2017 Reflections, Looking Ahead to 2018

To our friends and advocates,

Thank you for your support and interest in the Bible Reading Movement. As we move into 2018, we are full of gratitude for God’s favor on 2017, our first year of work at full capacity. People around the world are struggling to read and embrace the Bible. We are pioneering a movement through research, education, and resources that reshape the way they read, so they can become immersed in the Bible’s life-transforming story. This past year has been a great encouragement to us as we’ve seen the Bible come alive to numerous people, perhaps for the first time.

For example, read Chris Chapman’s reflections about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience after reading through the New Testament with a small group from Saddleback Church:

“Honestly, once I got started reading, it was hard for me to stop.  I’d take it to the office with me, and I actually ended up getting ahead of the 8-week reading schedule.  I was surprised at how easy it was.

The group experience was critical.  I really wanted to engage in the conversations when we got together, so the group really kept me on task.  The book club approach was also helpful.  I’m not looking for more work!  So I’d just read and show up. The discussions were great! People caught things that I’d missed and vice versa, but because we’d all read about fifty pages that week, everyone had a lot to contribute.”

We’re quickly finding that our research is being confirmed – people are ready for a fresh experience with the Bible. With Immerse now there is potential for entire denominations to embrace a new Bible reading rhythm together. In June, the Evangelical Covenant Church introduced Immerse as their official Bible reading program! Here is what Michelle Sanchez, Executive Minister of Make and Deepen Disciples, had to say:

“Our first Covenant affirmation is the centrality of the Word of God – and central to our life and faith it is! As “People of the Book,” we have a long tradition of valuing deep engagement with the whole Bible. We are pleased to introduce the pathway of Immerse: The Covenant Bible Reading Experience in partnership with Tyndale House Publishers and the newly-formed Institute for Bible Reading. This dynamic resource will allow for a congregation to read through the entire Bible together in community over the course of three years. We encourage every Covenant congregation to continue deep, daily engagement with the Word of God – the best discipleship tool there is.”

The Institute for Bible Reading is uncommonly focused on using research, education, and the creation of resources to help people read the Bible well.  We are grateful for advances in 2017:

  • Research – In early 2018, we will publish the results of an initial survey of clergy about their congregations’ Bible reading habits. We listen carefully to both the scholars and the clergy as we develop strategies and resources to help people read and live the Bible well.
  • Education –This past year, we were grateful for many opportunities to share our point of view on Bible engagement. Our team was featured in Bible Gateway, Christianity Today, Outreach, ChurchLeaders.com, and Premier Christianity UK, among others. And there were multiple speaking/training opportunities at ministries like Summit Ministries, Brooklyn Tabernacle, the Q Conference, and Missio Alliance.
  • Resources – Much of 2017 was spent developing resources for Immerse. As we closed the year, Tyndale House Publishers sent the final two volumes of Immerse: The Reading Bible to the printer. This six-volume “reading Bible” available in English and Spanish anchors our signature program, which is reshaping how congregations read the Bible. Along with a free audio edition and free downloadable guides, Immerse is fueling a fresh Bible Reading Movement all across North America and beyond.

As we head into 2018, we are encouraged with our momentum but also aware of challenges and aspirations. This coming year, we hope to host scholars and clergy forums again, after a hiatus while we focused on developing Immerse. We hope to build capacity to fulfill a growing list of invitations to speak and provide training about deep Bible engagement. And we hope to engage in more research about how reading the Bible well enables the church to live the Bible well. Finally, we want to leverage Immerse across North America and then move into more international languages beyond Spanish.

We are grateful for all the support and advocacy of kindred spirits whose imaginations are sparked by joining us in pioneering a Bible Reading Movement. Thank you for all of your prayers and support as we head into 2018. We can’t do this work without you!