Experience Life Together in the Bible

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Immerse Was Created

There is a growing body of evidence that most Christians today are struggling to meaningfully connect with the Bible. Yet, through the Bible God reveals himself to us and invites us into a relationship with him. And as we begin to better understand who God is, we also begin to better understand who we are—people who are loved by God, created in his image, and called into a new kind of life as members of his renewed creation.

It is a fundamental responsibility of every church and every pastor to not only encourage but enable the members of their congregation to read the Bible well.

Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience is designed to establish a foundation of biblical fluency within the Church, to build community around Scripture, and to provide a means for reaching beyond the walls of the church to share the Good News of the Gospel with the world.

Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience

Why do you call Immerse a reading experience?

Every component of Immerse is designed to help people experience the Bible in a fresh new way. From the restored formatting of the Bible to the unmediated structure of the group conversations, Immerse is meant to break the mold of a typical Bible study or small group curriculum and allow the Scriptures to come alive for people, perhaps for the first time. In fact, we think it’s more accurate to refer to it as a “Book Club” rather than a Bible study.

Why is the program length eight weeks?

Eight weeks is recommended because it is not so long that groups lose momentum or so short that the reading gets to be too much. It has proven to be an optimum length to complete a significant reading plan, such as the whole New Testament. It does require a somewhat serious commitment to reading each week, but it is also only for eight weeks.

Some churches have made Immerse a 16-week experience, while others have customized it differently to fit their needs. Alternative 16-week reading plans are available under Resource Downloads on each volume’s Resource page.

This is a lot of reading each day. Why so much?

Eight weeks is recommended because it is not so long that groups lose momentum or so short that the reading gets to be too much. It has proven to be an optimum length to complete a significant reading plan, such as the whole New Testament. It does require a somewhat serious commitment to reading each week, but it is also only for eight weeks.

Some churches have made Immerse a 16-week experience in order to go at a slower pace. Alternative 16-week reading plans are available under Resource Downloads on each volume’s Resource page.

What if I can’t keep up with the reading and fall behind?

That’s OK; don’t give up. If you fall too far behind, skip ahead to where the group is reading so you can continue being involved in the group discussions. You can always go back and read what you’ve missed later.

Immerse: The Reading Bible

Is this the whole Bible (New Testament, etc.)?

Yes, it is simply the text of the Holy Bible, New Living Translation with brief introductions to each book. Nothing has been added or eliminated from the Bible text. The only alterations have been to remove all of the modern additives of chapters, verses, notes, etc.

Why the NLT? Is this available in other translations?

The NLT is regarded by many as the best reading translation available today. Immerse is not available in other translations.

Can I use the Bible I already have?

Using a different Bible would make the experience difficult, since the reading plan uses page numbers to indicate each day’s reading. It will also be difficult to follow the text in discussion groups since people reference passages by page numbers and not chapter or verse.

More importantly, the format matters to the experience. Removing the chapter and verse numbers and restoring the natural breaks and literary formats changes how you read. Presenting the text in a more familiar format, like other books we are accustomed to reading, encourages reading books as whole books, letters as entire letters, and poetry as poetry. It is what the authors originally intended.

Is Immerse: The Reading Bible available in large print?

Not at this time. However, it is available as an eBook, so you can download it to a reader and enlarge the font size to whatever is easiest for you to read. You can also listen to a newly recorded Immerse audio version, which adheres to the natural breaks found in the printed books.

Can I just listen to it and not buy a book?

The book itself is an invaluable tool for the weekly group discussions. It makes it possible for a group to look at portions together that are being discussed, and for a reader to mark passages for discussion during the group gatherings. Also, Immerse is priced reasonably to make it easily accessible for the average church.

Can I just read it by myself without being in a group?

You can, and you will likely have a great experience reading an additive-free Bible, but it will not be the full Immerse experience. Community is a critical part of the life of any church, and it’s a critical part of the Immerse experience. We are communal people, created by God to be in communion with Him and each other. That is why the books of the Bible were originally given to communities of people, and it’s how the church for most of its history has interacted with Scripture. So community really matters.

Immerse Groups

Do group hosts have to be teachers?

No, they do not. In fact, if they are experienced Bible study leaders, we ask them to take that hat off for this experience. Immerse group hosts are facilitators. They make sure the groups meet each week, help begin and end each discussion time, and facilitate the discussion around each week’s readings. They are even welcome to share the task of facilitating the discussion from week-to-week with others in the group.

What do group hosts do with the questions group members ask?

Many pastors have set up a special email address so group hosts in their church can submit questions that they need help with. This gives the hosts a resource for dealing with hard questions and allows them to ask the group to save the questions until the following week and move on. This is also a great way for pastors to gain a better understanding of the questions and issues their congregation is wrestling with and provides the opportunity for an effective sermon series following the Immerse experience.

As a pastor I am uncomfortable with people being free to say whatever they want in a group. Couldn’t it lead to inappropriate comments, observations, or questions too difficult for the group to answer?

This is a legitimate concern. However, people ask questions and make observations that they are already thinking about. So why not provide an opportunity for them to share these with the group and wrestle with them together? And what better place to address them than in the church? It also gives pastors the opportunity to gather these topics and address them through a sermon series following the Immerse experience, or to speak with individuals directly about the questions they have about the Bible.

Are the questions provided in the Quick Start Guide the only questions we can use?

Not at all. They are suggested conversation starters, designed to spur open and honest discussions about the week’s reading. Most groups do not even get through all of these questions each week. If a group member wants to start the discussion with a specific question, go for it!

Can we use this for our adult Sunday School class?

Absolutely. That being said, group discussion is a vital part of the Immerse experience, and groups often talk for 60-90 minutes. Sunday School schedules can sometimes be too limited in time to really get into meaningful discussions. Also, limiting group sizes to no more than 10-12 people greatly increases participation. In larger groups it is hard to include everyone in the discussion and leaders tend to drive discussion rather than allowing a free-flowing intimate conversation. Informal gatherings create a better environment for free and open discussion.

How is Immerse Different?

How is Immerse different from a Bible study?

Immerse is designed to draw people into a broad reading of the Bible, developing a familiarity and fluency with the entire text. Think of it as reading more for awareness than personal application. In this way they gain an understanding of the overarching story of the Bible. They also gain a better understanding of biblical context and see the big picture!

It is designed to engage people in community, interacting with each other and the Bible. There is no “teacher,” no workbooks or additional reading material. It’s simply reading and discussing the Scriptures together, more like a Book Club than a Bible study.

This in turn creates a desire to study the Bible more carefully. Pastors report an increased interaction with their preaching, and interest in Bible studies grows as people take time to “read big.”

Immerse is not a replacement for Bible study. In fact, it is proving to be a catalyst for more Bible study.

How is Immerse different from other Reading Bibles?

Simply stated, Immerse is much more than just a Reading Bible. It is supported by a carefully thought-out reading plan, along with free additional resources (weekly videos, a custom audio edition, Family Guides, etc.) to enhance the experience.

It’s geared to give whole churches an intentional plan to read the entire Bible together and to establish a regular rhythm of Bible reading in the life of the church. The goal is to ignite a new passion for reading the Bible together in community in churches around the world. It is more than offering a product–it’s growing a movement.

It also uses the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, a clear and faithful rendering of God’s word in contemporary English.

Immerse sounds like Community Bible Experience (Zondervan). What’s the difference?

Immerse was created by the Institute for Bible Reading, the same team that designed Community Bible Experience with Biblica. Now independent, the Institute has partnered with Tyndale to create Immerse, a program that reflects an additional 10 years of experience and research on what makes an optimal Bible reading experience for churches.

How is Immerse different from The Story? (Zondervan)

The Story is an abridged, chronological Bible that reads like a novel. Immerse is a clear presentation of the entire Bible, using formatting that displays the natural literary structures of each book. And while The Story is a 31-week campaign that takes churches through an abridged version of the Bible, Immerse is broken up into 8-week segments that take churches through large portions of the Bible (like the New Testament) in their entirety.

How is Immerse different from Bibliotheca?

Bibliotheca is an artistically-driven, limited edition of the Bible, and is priced high due to its high level of craftsmanship. It also uses the American Standard Version translation (1901) with limited updates to the language specifically for this project.

While Bibliotheca is a beautifully crafted Bible, it has no accompanying program to foster a community experience. Immerse combines a clean Bible format with an organic community reading program.