Student Reflections on Immerse

Bible teacher Nathan Smith has been using Immerse in his classes at South Christian High School for over a year. After trying Immerse at Calvin Christian High School and seeing the impact it had on his students, Nathan became convinced that the organic reading experience and “book club” discussion model needed to be incorporated into whatever Bible classes he taught.

Nathan has become a good friend of ours, and he blesses us by periodically passing along feedback he receives from his students about Immerse. He’s probably sent us more than two dozen quotes over the last year or so, and we wanted to share a few of our favorites. God is at work!

“I would occasionally decide to read the bible, then I would start from Genesis because I felt like I had to. Then I would get kind of bored because the whole creation part was something that I heard over and over my whole life. So I would flip the pages for some time then maybe go for a snack, then forget about it. This time, however, was different. The Bible, for instance, wasn’t what I was so used to. It didn’t have a black leather cover, it didn’t even have chapters and verses! It was so different, it felt like I was reading a book. A story. And that is what the Bible actually is, and the Beginnings Bible helped me a lot to recognize them.” -Freshman

“I have enjoyed reading the Beginnings Bible. I have grown up reading the Bible, but I let it come in one ear and go out the other because it just doesn’t resonate with me. However, ever since I have started reading the beginnings Bible on a daily basis I have been able to just fall into the story and actually remember what I have been reading so that I can learn from it.” -Freshman

“I realized that I never knew some of these stories existed before I read them without skipping in between stories. It was very eye opening to read what the life of Jesus was like in more depth and detail.” – Sophomore

“I liked reading without chapters and verses because it made it flow easier. When I read the Bible it is always hard for me to understand and I usually don’t really get a lot from it unless someone explains it to me. But when I read it this way it became a lot easier to read.” – Freshman

“One thing that definitely stood out to me throughout the reading is that I understood the content better. It was easier for me to comprehend and understand what I was reading in story-form. After reading the entire book, I was able to connect the dots of the sequence of events in the first five books of the bible.” – Freshman

“Reading through the whole New Testament was really a cool experience because it’s something that I usually would never do…It fascinated me on how much of the New Testament is letters to certain different churches. I had known that there were books in the Bible that were letters but I had never known truly how many of them were letters and that we could learn a lot from them.” – Junior

“I’ve grown up reading the Bible, going to a Christian School, and going to Sunday school. I thought that I already knew most of what the Bible was about, little did I know that I would be learning more and more each book.” – Freshman

“I found it easier to read and stay engaged while reading the old testament in book form instead of in the Bible. I love to read and it felt like I was reading a chapter book and it was easier to understand because the Bible can be pretty confusing. Reading the Bible, it is disengaging for me and this version was not.” – Freshman

Video Story: Immerse at Chapel Springs Church

“Like so many churches in America, we do have a biblical literacy problem.”

In January 2019, Chapel Springs Church in Bristow, VA committed to going “all in” with Immerse and embarked on an ambitious plan to read the entire Bible together in 2 years.

Check out part of their story below, which is one of several videos we’re producing that document the impact Immerse has had on their congregation. Thanks to Chapel Springs for allowing us to capture their story, and for being such a fantastic example of how to bring a church together around the Bible.

Immerse at Chapel Springs Church

Immerse at Bethesda Community Church

When you walk into Bethesda Community Church (Forth Worth, TX) it feels a little bit like walking into the United Nations.

On Sunday mornings, five worship services for five different language groups happen simultaneously throughout the church in English, Spanish, Swahili, French, and Kinyarwandan.

When Bethesda heard about Immerse, they jumped at the chance to go “all in” and read the Word together. They did a masterful job of including their Children’s Ministry, Spanish congregation, families, and other groups within the church to truly make it a church-wide experience.

“(Immerse) offered us the opportunity to fulfill a longing within our fellowship,” said Senior Pastor J. Daniel Smith. “This was an opportunity to have a broad spectrum of our congregation go on a journey with us through the New Testament as we started with Messiah.”

The good folks at Bethesda welcomed us into their church to capture their story. And there was so much good stuff, we had to make 3 videos! Check them out below.

To order copies of Immerse: The Reading Bible in English or Spanish, click here.

Immerse at Bethesda Community Church

Immerse at Bethesda Community Church

Biblia Inmersión – Immerse within the Spanish Congregation

Bethesda Spanish v4

A Special Message for Pastors

Immerse – Pastors at Bethesda Community Church

Video Story: Immerse at Southern Wesleyan University

Located just outside of Clemson, SC, Southern Wesleyan University is the first university to use Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience for their course curriculum. Professor Andrea Summers’ New Testament Survey class read through the New Testament together in one semester using Immerse, gathering once a week in Immerse book clubs to discuss what they were reading.

Typically, New Testament Survey courses emphasize learning about the New Testament: history, geography, book-level themes, and other elements that provide the backdrop for reading the Scriptures well. Rarely, however, is much time spent in the text itself.

Summers wasn’t going to let that happen. She told her class at the beginning of the semester that they were going to read through the whole New Testament. Faces dropped, shoulders sagged. “You could just see by their faces, ‘Uh, there’s no way I could do that,'” she said.

“I’m setting a goal for them, and then I’m saying, ‘Guess what, you can do it. And also, here is the tool to help you get there.”

Their experience is inspiring. For almost all of the students, it was their first time reading through the entire New Testament. They got to step back and see the big picture, taking in the grandeur of the story. Some of them were able to draw close to God in ways they’d always hoped for but never experienced.

We’re so excited to share their story with you. Check it out below.

Southern Wesleyan University Students' Lives "Rocked" Reading Immerse

High School Bible Teacher Shares How Immerse “Reinvigorated” His Class

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.

Allowing students to “immerse” themselves in Scripture allowed me as a teacher to let students’ observations and reactions drive the class.

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.

In Christ,
Ben Tameling
Bible Teacher
Grandville Calvin Christian High School