Tag Archive for: Immerse: The Reading Bible

Immerse Crosses the Atlantic

We’re thrilled to report that Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience has made its way across the Atlantic and into the United Kingdom. The UK wasn’t in our immediate strategy for spreading the vision and impact of Immerse, but the Lord likes to work in surprising ways.

Last year, out of the blue, our team was contacted by Keith Danby. Keith’s a Brit with a long and illustrious career in Christian publishing, and several of us had worked with him when he was CEO of the International Bible Society.

Keith had retired several years ago and we’d been out of touch. Then he stumbled onto Immerse. The more he dug into the new reading-friendly format and organic conversation structure, the more he wondered if Immerse might be perfectly suited for the UK’s post-Christian culture (approximately 5% of the population attend church, many of whom are immigrants).

In Keith’s mind, Immerse had the right stuff: no chapters or verses to confuse a generation unfamiliar with the Bible, the easily-accessible NLT translation, and a “Book Club” model that sparked curiosity and imagination. It felt revolutionary. In time he sensed a call to establish Immerse in the UK, perhaps his last major achievement in a long career.

Keith leveraged his connections with Premier Media, the largest Christian media company in Europe, to form a partnership between Premier, Tyndale House Publishers, and the Institute for Bible Reading. Together we’re working to spread the word to pastors and church leaders across the UK about how Immerse can help draw their congregations in to the Bible again.

Today there are Immerse initiatives in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. Over 40 churches are actively using Immerse, and stories of transformation are beginning to come in.

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Last spring I was invited to speak to a group of church leaders in St. Andrews, Scotland. The hotel where I spoke was situated on the Old Course at St. Andrews, widely considered the oldest golf course in the world. When I wasn’t gawking at the course where I’ve watched numerous Open Championships on TV, I was sharing the history, vision, and impact of Immerse on churches here in the United States.

During that speaking event I met Kenneth Ferguson, a businessman living outside of Edinburgh. Kenneth was taken with the idea of Immerse, and decided to start a group in his home with his wife, Doreen.

Doreen was admittedly skittish about the idea at first. Immerse was just a little too strange for her tastes. “I’m wary of new things” she confessed, “It took me a wee bit of convincing.”

Doreen and Kenneth

But the Immerse experience itself opened her up. “I could see how people in the group were being helped, and it was easier in some ways to read.” It was different than the many Bible studies she’d been a part of. “[The Bible studies] have ten questions and sometimes it feels like they’re steering us away from what God is saying to us. I hated all the questions and I found them boring.”

Doreen works as a podiatrist, and shortly before their group started reading the Messiah New Testament, she met a woman named Dierdre in her clinic. Doreen has a gift for getting people to open up (Kenneth says she’s good with soles and souls), and soon Deirdre confessed that her parents had recently died. She felt lost. She’d seen counselors. She tried going to church. “It made no sense to me.”

“My life had become a cry for help,” Dierdre later told us. Thankfully, Doreen sensed Dierdre’s need for community and invited her to their Immerse group. Deirdre accepted the invitation with the caveat that she knew absolutely nothing about the Bible and didn’t want to impede the group’s progress.

Deirdre bravely waded into the Immerse 8-week reading plan, which requires reading about 45 pages a week. Despite the intense schedule, she was hooked. “I found myself engrossed; it felt like reading a novel.”

After a couple of weeks reading the New Testament, Deirdre quietly shared with the group, “I think I want to become a Christian.”

Dierdre (front left) Doreen, Kenneth, and their Immerse group

The Immerse group at the Fergusons has now read Messiah, Beginnings, Kingdoms, and Poets without taking any breaks. Only Prophets and Chronicles remain. Kenneth says, “Each time we finish a module I ask the group if they want to take a break, and each time they unanimously want to keep going.”

Deirdre comes every week having both read and listened to the Immerse audio Bible. She was pensive when I ask her if reading Immerse had impacted her personally.

“I wanted a bit of peace in my life and in my head. Today I feel personally more confident, and I look at the world differently. Through our Immerse group the pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me. It’s given me strength, even though I don’t know all the directions it’s going to take me.”

Our mission at IFBR is to invite people into God’s transformative story by changing how they read the Bible. So far that has largely taken place in the US and Canada, but we have been delighted to see the ways God has delivered this new way of engaging Scripture into the UK.

I believe the proper term is “cheers” to Kenneth, Doreen, Dierdre, and their group which had the courage to try Immerse. We’re thrilled to see a group of Jesus followers in Edinburgh experiencing the Bible together in transformative new ways.

Immerse: The Reading Bible Wins 2022 Bible of the Year Award

Our flagship resource, Immerse: The Reading Bible, has won the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) Gold Medallion Award for 2022 Bible of the Year!

The Gold Medallion award is a highly sought-after recognition in Christian publishing, akin to a Pulitzer Prize or Oscar award. The ECPA gives the award each year to books and Christian resources in a number of different categories. See all of the winners here.

It’s a thrill to see such an out-of-the-ordinary Bible win this prestigious award. Six volumes, no chapters, no verses, no fancy notes or features. Just the Holy Scriptures with room to breathe.

Click here to learn more about Immerse

Immerse Featured on the Bible Review Blog

Tim Wildsmith from the Bible Review Blog recently published a video review of Immerse: The Reading Bible on his website and YouTube channel.

Before Tim recorded this review, we had the chance to sit down with him to share the history behind Immerse and the vision for how it can transform individuals and communities. We think he did a great job of articulating those things in this review, as well as pointing out the various features and benefits of Immerse.

NLT Immerse Reading Bible – Full Review

Episode 5: How to Make a Reader’s Bible w/ Christopher Smith

In Episode 4 we outlined the deficiencies of the Modern Reference Bible. But what’s the alternative? What could the future of the Bible look like?

Christopher Smith joins us to talk about the work and research that goes into the creation of Reader’s Bibles – Bibles which remove all of the modern additives and replace them with literary structures which actually honor and display the natural contours of each book. He and Glenn tell the story of how they met to create The Books of the Bible, a Reader’s edition which became the precursor to Immerse: The Reading Bible.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister and served local churches as a pastor for nearly twenty years. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School. He was heavily involved in the design and creation of Immerse: The Reading Bible.

After Chapters and Verses: https://amzn.to/2Sx2R5l

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