Posts

Episode 3: Nathan Smith – Getting Students Immersed in the Bible

By the time they reach his classroom as high school freshmen, many students in Nathan Smith’s Bible classes are very familiar with the Bible. They’re also quite bored with it.

Nathan shares his take on some of the systemic blind spots in the Bible education space, and how the narrative-based, whole-book, community discussion model of Immerse has reshaped how he teaches the Bible to his students. Simply reading the words of Scripture rather than “words about the words” helps the Bible come alive for them and changes their lives.

64% Of Young People Leaving the Church: https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/
Written Reflections from Nathan’s Students: Student Reflections on Immerse

Immerse at Calvin Christian HS:

Immerse at Calvin Christian High School

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