Barb and Glenn Martin have spent much of their lives in the education field—Barb as a faculty member at Bethel University, Glenn as a teacher, coach, and high-school principal. They both love the Word of God, faithfully participating in Bible studies and programs at their church in Roseville, MN.
When they heard about Immerse, Barb said, “It immediately captured our hearts and attention. So we thought, ‘Let’s pilot it at church. If we can get a green light from our pastoral staff, we thought getting into the Word of God and doing it in the way that the Immerse program has been written would be a great way to get into the Bible with some folks from church and see where it goes.’”
Barb and Glenn’s group recently finished reading through the New Testament together using Immerse: Messiah, so I caught up with them to see how it went.
Tell me about your experience with the Bible prior to Immerse.
Glenn: I’ve tried to be very diligent in the Word in many ways. For the last five years I’ve been doing The One Year Bible in various ways, most recently chronologically using the Bible app on my phone. I’ve really enjoyed that and have done it faithfully for many years. I have emails that come with topical ways to get in the Word. I’ve been in men’s groups that have been in the Word doing leadership and discipleship studies. I love the Word of God, but I’ve been excited about Immerse. I’m thinking this really has possibilities for believers and seekers alike.
Barb: In my own study I’ve been slowly working my way from beginning to end in a Bible study program. Women’s studies at church, book studies, that type of thing. When we went to Israel in 2014, we read The Harmony of the Gospels in preparation. That was fun and different from anything I’d done before.
How would you describe your personal experience with Immerse?
Barb: I liked it a lot. The approach and way it was structured was fresh. We started out with Luke and Acts and then Paul’s Letters, and the sequencing of that was very interesting. I really liked the notes at the beginning that gave you an introduction to what you were going to be experiencing—I thought that was very helpful. I did like the format without the chapter and verse breaks and just reading it like a book! It was fresh. It was interesting.
I also liked the fact that we had a range of people who joined our group—some people with great Bible knowledge, some with very little. We read with the four questions in mind and what we’d like to share with the group. It was approachable and it wasn’t threatening. We had the freedom to go off on different tangents, and it was wonderful to see what people picked up on as they were answering those questions themselves. It made you say, “I never took it like that” or, “That’s an interesting thought.” It was really neat to see the Body of Christ at work in the Holy Spirit revealing things to all of us in different places.
Glenn: I echo a lot of that. Additionally, for me personally, I really appreciated the way it caused you to see the flow of Scripture. The flow of Luke to Acts to the letters of Paul, that type of thing. The idea of the Gentile track and the Hebrew track of the New Testament was something I knew about but I hadn’t really read it that way. It helped me see it in a new way—dots that got connected in ways I’d never really fully understood because for the most part I’d read the Bible chronologically every day, but it’s piecemeal, it’s smaller chunks. To have this more global, holistic, 10,000-foot view was refreshing and revealed things I hadn’t seen before.
How was your group’s experience?
Glenn: As Barb said, there was varied experience and differing depths of faith. So some of the questions that were raised were really eye-opening for me. One guy asked some questions that seemed obvious at first, but when you stop to really think about it, it’s a very foundational question. It really helped me see the potential of this kind of study with nonbelievers and seekers because it’s really non-threatening. Here’s a book, four questions, what do you think? You don’t have to be a Bible expert, experienced theologian, don’t need a degree, don’t need a concordance to really be blessed by it.
Barb: When we presented this to the group, the reading schedule and everything, there was an element of excitement that in eight weeks we could read the New Testament. It was a fun challenge, and for everyone to say, “Wow, the weeks flew by,” and at the end it was really a nice celebration! We did the New Testament in eight weeks! I thought that was a really fun part of it, that we did it together.
What does your future with Immerse look like?
Glenn: A couple of us from the group are heading south for a few months, but the rest of them are continuing with Beginnings, and we’re being encouraged to Skype into the discussions. The group definitely wanted to continue, and they actually had their first meeting last night.