Tag Archive for: Bible

Interview with Immerse Pilot Participant

Like many others of his generation, Duane Martin came to faith in college through the Navigators, a campus organization known for introducing people to the Bible right away. When it comes to the Bible, the Navigators are dedicated.

Duane bought in fully, reading through the entire Bible every year, memorizing Scripture, and joining a church that had Bible as it’s middle name.

So when Duane was invited this summer to join an Immerse pilot group with eight guys from his church in Wheaton, IL, he didn’t hesitate. But what he experienced was surprisingly different from anything he’d experienced before. We got in touch with Duane to get his thoughts on Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience.

How would you describe the overall Immerse experience?
It was great! The format without chapters and verses made it seem easier. All the notes and numbers weren’t bogging me down. Things flowed. Patterns emerged. I was amazed at how things came together. It sounds artificial to say it, but I really felt “immersed” in the Bible.

How difficult was it to keep up with the reading plan and finish Immerse: Messiah in eight weeks?
On a scale of 1 to 10, it was about a 5.7 [Duane is an IBM software executive, so precision matters.] Anybody can do anything for eight weeks. And because I did it with a bunch of guys, we had “appropriate peer pressure.” Like a lot of other guys, I’m into cross-fit training where there’s a scoreboard and everything gets measured. And you always work out harder when you work out with someone else.

Describe your weekly group conversations around the reading.
We had some newer Christians in our group and they were just overwhelmed with the story of Jesus. Without a video or syllabus, things just came out naturally. There was never awkward silence. It evoked a different kind of conversation—really quite freeing. We all agreed that if we got stumped somewhere, we wouldn’t feel pressure to resolve our questions with easy answers.

What sorts of takeaways do you have from the experience?
Immerse: Messiah felt like a book and we treated it like any other book. We dog-eared pages, wrote Post-It notes so we could bring our ideas to the group. I’m definitely interested in moving to the next Immerse experience. And a couple of us are making plans to try to get our whole church to do Immerse.

If you are interested in getting your church involved in Immerse, click here to learn more.


ECC Goes All-In on Immerse

The Evangelical Covenant Church has become the first denomination to adopt Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience as their encouraged Bible reading program for churches. The initiative was announced this summer at their 132nd Covenant Annual Meeting.

“Our first Covenant affirmation is the centrality of the Word of God – and central to our life and faith it is!” said Michelle Sanchez, Executive Minister of Make and Deepen Disciples. “We are now 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.”

Michelle Sanchez SpeakingOver 40,000 people participated in the Covenant Community Bible Experience last year, which presented churches with the opportunity to read through the entire New Testament together. Many of the people who took part began asking, “What’s next?”

“As People of the Book, we can’t be satisfied with just a one-time experience of reading through the New Testament” Sanchez said.

Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience will allow churches to experience the entire Bible in six volumes, each with an accompanying program. By participating in an 8-week experience each spring and fall, a church can read through the Bible together in three years.

The Evangelical Covenant Church was founded in 1855 and describes itself as a “rapidly growing multiethnic denomination” with over 850 congregations in the US and Canada.

Check out the Covenant’s Immerse Website to learn more.


What Is Immerse?

The Bible isn’t doing very well among us. While a lot of older folks tend to still hold the Bible in high esteem, younger people increasingly are not so sure. But even more importantly, neither group is reading it much. There is a group of people who reference the Bible pretty regularly—taking in a verse for devotions here, or looking up a topic there—but when it comes to flat out reading the Bible there has been a steady decline going on for decades.

Why is this happening?

Lots of reasons most likely, and we can’t talk about all of them right here. But part of the problem is surely what we’ve done to complicate the form of the Bible, as well as the kind of Bible practices we’ve developed around this new reference book format.

By continually adding more things to the visual form of the Bible (chapters, verses, section headings, cross-references, footnotes, etc.) we’ve essentially changed what people think the Bible is. Who reads a reference book? So we’ve seen people actually engage with the Bible less and less. And now we’re in danger of seeing the majority of the next generation ignore it completely.

But these are problems we can do something about. And that’s why the Institute for Bible Reading has developed a brand new deep Bible engagement program called Immerse.

What’s different?

Immerse begins by bringing an elegant simplicity back to the Bible itself. All those additives like chapters and verses that have been accumulating over the centuries? They’re gone. What’s left is a clean, beautifully designed Bible that combines the science of good design for reading with an attentiveness to the natural literary form of the original Scriptures. Poetry looks like poetry. Letters read like letters and stories read like stories.

The modern chapter and verse overlay on the Bible imposes a foreign structure and hides the natural form of the Bible’s books. Often these numeric markers are in the wrong place, dividing up the books incorrectly. So Immerse restores each book’s original literary format. For example, in Matthew’s gospel we can see Jesus presenting a “new Torah” through the five natural sections marked off by repeated variations of the phrase, “When Jesus had finished saying these things.” Other elements like the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, the three parts of ancient letters, the continuous flow of narratives—all this and more can be easily seen in this fresh new presentation of the Scriptures.

Then we’ve arranged the books into a new order that helps readers navigate bigger parts of the Bible in a way that makes sense. For instance, rather that bunching all the Gospels up at the front of the New Testament, we’ve spread them out and put each one together with the books that naturally go with it. Paul’s letters are now in the order he likely wrote them. We’ve re-combined books that were artificially separated, like Luke–Acts and Samuel–Kings.

The result is a fresh new Bible presentation, built for great, comfortable reading. Now readers can feast on whole books, rather than nibbling on verses here and there. This is the way the Scriptures were meant to be read.

But that’s not all. Another key practice we’ve been neglecting is the experience of the Bible together in community. Again, history can be our guide. When the Scriptures were first presented they were always shared, heard, and lived out within an assembly of God’s people. Immerse gathers the family of God once again to have open, honest conversations around God’s Word. Sadly, we have not been having these conversations. But now we can. We can rediscover and re-engage the Bible that’s always been there, the beauty hidden behind the mask.

An Ancient-Future Rhythm with the Bible

In ancient times God’s people dove deep into the Bible by following a regular pattern of weekly reading that would take them through the Scriptures in three years. We can take up this rhythm of ongoing immersion in the sacred words once again.

The Bible can be freed to be the agent of transformation that it was always intended to be.

If you are interested in getting your church involved in Immerse, click here to learn more.

Watch: IFBR Interview at Q Nashville 2017

Earlier this year we were invited backstage at the Q Conference in Nashville to record an interview in response to the topic: How Can We Better Engage The Bible? This is the featured topic on the Q Ideas website this week, and IFBR Director Paul Caminiti is the featured voice in response to this question.

Check out the video below in which Paul diagnoses some of the problems with the current Bible paradigm, casts a vision for the future, and talks a bit about Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience


Q Backstage: Paul Caminiti


What Millennials Want With the Bible

I was born in 1990, smack in the middle of what most people consider the Millennial generation. As a Millennial, it’s been slightly depressing, slightly confusing, and slightly amusing reading all of the (digital) ink that’s been spilled trying to figure out my generation, its relationship with the Bible, and its role in the Church.

We lead the way in “Bible skepticism.” Our short attention spans, conditioned by scrolling through thousands of tweets, Facebook statuses, and Instagram photos, seem to leave little hope of longform reading. Maybe if we could just get the Bible in Tweet form? Or even better, Emojis!

A better way forward

Instead of trying to contort our Holy Scriptures and Christian faith into something Millennials will “approve”, what if our generation is actually looking for something bigger, something that transcends what we experience with our smartphones?

That’s why I loved this article, Reaching a New Generation with the Bible by Cara Meredith on CT Pastors. She touches on important factors we at the Institute for Bible Reading believe constitute rich, impactful Bible reading. Authentic community. A powerful, life-defining story. Space to open up and ask difficult questions.

My generation craves community and authenticity. When it comes to the Bible, we don’t need emojis. Trust me, we already have enough. What we need is to encounter the real, wild, untamed lands of the Bible’s story, and to encounter them together. The Institute for Bible Reading has worked hard to make sure those two ideas are central to the DNA of our signature program, Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience.

I highly recommend you check out Reaching a New Generation with the Bible, then let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!