A Look Back at Immerse 2015
Posted by Laura Rendall | Published August 31, 2015
Our network’s summer Immerse program has drawn to a close. Randy Beckett says the group this summer approached the program exactly how he hoped they would. “I was encouraged by the seriousness they brought to the summer. The whole group came obviously ready to invest themselves in the process. They were ready to play ball.”
He was encouraged over the course of the summer by feedback he received from the students’ church leaders, as the leaders watched the students learning and growing. Many of the students took seriously their responsibility to share what they were learning with their churches. Don Johnson, an elder in South Ames Church, said about Lissa Burns, “It was enjoyable to see Lissa’s excitement from her experience in Immerse. She talked with our church about her timeline and a paper for the book of Acts. She also developed new relationships in the group.”
There were a couple of exciting moments this summer as biblical truths were wrestled with. One student had the sudden epiphany that “church” and “ministry” are the same thing, that her church is her ministry. Before Immerse, she had thought of church as being something that just helped a person to grow and had thought of ministry as being work for God that a person did outside the church. Another student had the exciting realization that the Scriptures are more than just history and can actually be used to relevantly inform one’s life and decisions.
Several of the students this summer grew up in the Ames–Des Moines CityChurch Network. Randy says those students had the hoped-for experience of walking the same path that others have walked before them. In other words, they studied the Scripture themselves and came away with the same beliefs and convictions their parents and others ahead of them already did. “They can now see why the people around them are passionate about the principles they are living. The kids that grow up here believe a lot of things to be true and good ideas, but it’s not something they are going to bank their whole lives on until they go into the Scriptures and see it for themselves.” Speaking of her experience with this, Jennifer Berg says, “Immerse grew me in a way that forced me to make my faith my own, in thoughts and actions. While taking Immerse, you cannot just believe what other people tell you. There are biblical truths behind everything that you are saying and reading.”
During one of the last weekends of Immerse, Randy took the students down to Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas, to meet with two of our CityChurch partners. “I wanted to expose them to other situations that have wrestled with what it means to align their churches with the way of Christ and His Apostles. The ones we visited were ones that have really done that and are very like-minded with us. I wanted to give the group the opportunity to see the way of Christ and His Apostles worked out in a different context and to have them hear the same things from different voices.” The students thought it was amazing that they could go somewhere else entirely and yet see other churches talking about exactly the same biblical ideas. Seeing that other people have gone to the Scriptures, have asked the same questions our network is asking, and have come away with the same conclusions gave the students a lot of confidence in what our network is doing.
When asked to describe what she learned this summer, this is how Kari Gruver of Hickory, North Carolina, summed up Immerse, “Getting back to the foundation of the Church—its birth, its structure, and its purpose—was eye opening, to say the least. It was amazing to see God’s detailed plan for every believer laid out clearly by studying the Scriptures in depth (this done through Acts and Pauline) and then getting to design a strategy to adjust my own life to that same plan (this done through LifeN). Immerse was way beyond just beneficial; I believe the content of what we studied is necessary for every believer to really begin to understand who they are in Christ, what their role is, and how they can live their lives the way God intended—life to the fullest.”