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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. It was founded by Roger Hansen, a Christian businessman who serves still today as Chairman of the Board of Directors. IRR, which was originally known as Gospel Truths Ministries, 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 as 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 with IRR since 1987, first as a Research and Counseling Associate, then as Coordinator of Spanish Language Ministries and later as Director of Ministries, and now as Executive Director. A missionary kid and later a missionary himself in Venezuela, Joel has spoken hundreds of times for IRR throughout North, Central, and South America as well as in Spain, Central Europe and Madagascar. On his numerous trips to Latin America he has distributed hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature on Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other apologetics-related issues, and has been the featured guest on various radio and television programs. He currently cohosts 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, contributed articles to the Christian Research Journal, and the Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue journal (Fuller Theological Seminary) and has extensive experience speaking to the media and at conferences. He has been an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University and is active in his church’s missions program and men's ministries.

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