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Who We Are

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Who We Are

IRR’s History and Staff

The Institute for Religious Research (IRR) is a nondenominational, evangelical Christian ministry of apologetics and discernment. We are committed to helping you recognize spiritually dangerous religious groups and respond with love and biblical truth. We offer research and resources that equip you to reach people in these groups with confidence and compassion.

IRR was founded by Roger Hansen, a Christian businessman who serves still today as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Originally known as Gospel Truths Ministries, IRR was established as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization in 1986 and officially changed its name in 1989. From that time until his passing in November 2007, Luke P. Wilson was IRR’s Executive Director. Throughout this entire period Luke worked alongside Joel Groat, who served as Ministries Director. From September 2008 until September 2018, Robert M. Bowman Jr., a biblical scholar with twenty-five years of experience in apologetics and discernment ministry, served as IRR’s Executive Director. In October 2018, Dr. Bowman resigned his position and Joel B. Groat, who has been with IRR since 1987, was appointed Executive Director.

We desire to promote — in a thoughtful and gracious manner — the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, as revealed in the Bible. For more information about what we believe, please read our Statement of Faith.


Joel B Groat
Executive Director

Joel B. Groat has served full-time with IRR since 1987, assuming the role of Executive Director in 2018. A missionary kid and later a missionary with his wife Lois in Venezuela, Joel has a passion for equipping Christian pastors and leaders cross-culturally in the areas of Leadership, Discernment, and Evangelism. He has spoken hundreds of times for IRR in over 20 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, and Africa. He has been the featured guest on radio and television programs and currently co-hosts the Unveiling Grace Podcast with Dr. Lynn Wilder. 

Joel earned a Master’s degree (MTS) in New Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 1990. He has contributed to and translated many of IRR’s tracts, authored numerous web articles, and has contributed articles to the Christian Research Journal and the Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue Journal (Fuller Theological Seminary).  He has been an adjunct professor at various colleges and universities and is the author of the Spanish Video Series La Fe de Mi Prójimo (My Neighbor's Faith), as well as a contributing author to the recent book Sharing the Good News with Mormons (Harvest House, 2018). 

Joel and his wife, Lois, have been married since 1983 and have eight children and thirteen grandchildren. 

You can follow Joel on the socials here:


Twitter: @PapaJoel8