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 in the summer of 2017 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.
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.