I recently had lunch with a great friend from out of town who is both a pastor and an experienced counselor. After lunch we drove out to visit Dr. Adams and on our drive home he said, “I wish I could visit South Carolina more often. It is the only time I get to hear what God is doing through Jay and the Institute. How often do you communicate with your students and friends of the ministry?”
I rehearsed for him my typical thoughts on the subject—I am very busy, our friends and students are busy, I don’t want to annoy people with unwanted email, folks will think I am trying to get money from them, Jay does not like to promote himself, if people are interested they can read the website . . .
At that point my friend cut me off. “Donn, shame on you! For over 50 years Dr. Adams has had an important ministry in the lives of thousands of people and for the past 12 years you and the Institute have had a life changing ministry to hundreds of students and, through them, thousands of counselees. These people love Jay, and they love this ministry. You simply must do a better job of communicating with them. Hundreds would love to help you if only they knew how!”
Well, of course I was chastened. It has been several weeks since that conversation and this letter is the fruit of my thinking since then. It is longer letter than anything I plan to publish in the future but I have some catching up to do. Please indulge me while I share with you, in some detail, what has been happening at the Institute and some plans for the future.
God is Prospering the Institute
Compiling exact statistics would require expending more time than the principle of good stewardship allows but the Institute now has thousands of students who have enrolled in at least one of our courses and hundreds of graduates who have completed our entire curriculum. These students and graduates are having important ministries in their local churches and are offering the hope only the Scriptures can give to hurting counselees on every continent around the world.
Our website is visited by hundreds of people every day. It not only provides information about the Institute and the training we offer but visitors can also find:
- a treasure trove of information about Nouthetic counseling, much of which is out of print and can be found nowhere else
- a daily podcast by Dr. Adams that features 8-9 minute discussions of every counseling issue imaginable (and some you never imagined)
- our blog featuring recent articles by Dr. Adams as well as, from time to time, classic articles which Dr. Adams has written in years past that can be found nowhere else
- our online bookstore
- our Facebook page which has over 1700 “friends” (Are you one of them?)
Our opportunities continue to grow. One of the most exciting partnerships we have developed recently is with Mid-America Baptist Seminary in Memphis where we are helping establish PhD, DMin, and MA programs in Nouthetic counseling. I taught for two weeks in January and will be returning to teach again in June. Next month (April 7-9) Jay and I will be speaking at their first conference on biblical counseling along with Martha Peace and Lou Priolo. More information can be found at their website.
Dr. Adams’ health continues to concern us. While God has given him a degree of improved strength he still deals with a number of challenges every day. Jay continues to write blog articles, Jay and I recently contributed an article to the new Theological Journal to be published by Mid-America Baptist Seminary, and recently R. C. Sproul’s Tabletalk magazine published an interview with Dr. Adams. When I am asked about Jay’s health I like to report that he is “full of sap and very green” (Ps. 92:14). I stopped by his home unannounced several weeks ago and found him reading Basil of Caesarea in the original Greek!
Our training continues to be the single most comprehensive, foundational, and convenient place to study Nouthetic counseling. That may sound like self-serving bluster but please hear me out. We have many friends, and we know of scores of others, who do a fine job of teaching biblical counseling in a number of venues—formal academic institutions, well-structured conferences and seminars, and local church training centers. Each of these, however, owes their existence to the foundational work done by Dr. Adams. Our advice to those seeking training in biblical counseling is to study under Dr. Adams first and establish a firm foundation studying under a teacher they can trust before navigating the wealth of good training (and the plague of poor training and exegesis) available in other places.
But We Have Challenges
Our growth and opportunities have required that we try to do more and more with the same amount of resources. The day to day operation of the Institute is handled almost exclusively by our Executive Director. His daily responsibilities include bookkeeping, taping and editing video lectures, writing and editing curriculum notes, maintaining our websites, interacting with students by phone, recruiting students, teaching, counseling, and answering email. In addition to these daily responsibilities he is working on several writing projects, speaking at counseling conferences, and teaching in an adjunct role in Seminary.
All of that to say, “We need help!” Our most pressing need is to hire an administrative assistant to handle some of the day to day operations. Coupled with that is the need to find better office space from which to function. Almost two years ago the wonderful office space we were renting in Greenville was sold requiring us to move out. Since then we have been working out of two spare bedrooms and an over the garage bonus room in the Arms home. I still have over 4,000 volumes of books packed away in boxes in the garage. Hiring an administrative assistant will require that we have more functional office space somewhere.
Meeting these needs will require more income for the Institute. Since our founding more than twelve years ago we have been largely funded by tuition paid by our students. We have discovered, however, what every other educational institution has learned—tuition income alone cannot cover the cost of training.
Our tuition is exactly the same as it was twelve years ago. We have never raised it—nor do we plan to. We want to keep training in biblical counseling under Dr. Adams accessible to as many students as possible. We believe raising tuition would keep many from students studying with us and as a result, reduce our income, not increase it. No, we believe the first solution is more students, not higher tuition.
Second, we have been lousy fundraisers. We used to wear this as a badge of honor partly because we do not want to be perceived to be focused on money. While Dr. Adams has had an important ministry to thousands over the years he has never cultivated donors. When he was once asked to become the president of a Seminary he turned them down, in part because he believed his lack of fund raising skills would doom the school financially.
As I said at the beginning of this letter, we have been challenged in recent days by several friends to do a better job of asking friends to help us. They have made the case that there are thousands of people helped by Dr. Adams over the years who would love to see others helped in the same way, and would want to help us if only they were asked.
How Can You Help?
Those are some of our current needs, now we want to boldly ask you to do FOUR things for us.
- Please make the ministry of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies a priority matter of prayer for the next month. I commit to you that I will do a better job of keeping you informed about the ministry of the Institute than I have in the past. Would you commit to putting this ministry, our students, and Dr. Adams personally, at the top of your prayer list for the next month?
- Would you help us advertise the ministry of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies?
- “Like” our Facebook page. Currently, we are right at 1700 likes. Help us increase this to 2,000 by the end of the month.
- “Share” our Facebook page with all YOUR Facebook friends and invite them to “like” us as well.
- Promote our blog, our podcast, and our website on YOUR blog or ministry website.
- Tell your family, your friends, your neighbors, your church family, your pastor, your in-laws, and everyone else you know about us.
- Would you navigate to our donation page and give as large a gift as you are able to this ministry? We pledge to use your gift carefully. There are no six figure salaries paid here. In fact, I will overcome my reticence to discuss such things and tell you that Dr. Adams has never taken a dime in income from the Institute. He has given of his time, his lectures, and his writings and as asked for nothing in return. As Executive Director devoting full time to this ministry, I have never taken an annual salary of more than 25K. We do not plan to change that until after these other needs are met.
- Give a gift today. The summer months as well as December are usually lean because fewer people devote themselves to studying during those times. Your gift now would help us prepare for the lean summer months that are just ahead. Would you make, what is for you, a significant gift today?
- Register to make a monthly donation. Please consider becoming a partner with us in this ministry by registering on our donation page to make a regular monthly gift. You can also send us an email to let us know you will be sending a check every month. We cannot hire an administrative assistant or secure office space until we have regular monthly commitments to cover those expenses. Your gift to the Institute will multiply several times over as it will not only be a blessing to us, but to those who will be learning how to minister the Word of God effectively in the counseling room, and then to those counselees whose lives will be changed by that ministry.
4. Finally, would you help us by sharing your testimony with prospective students? Sometime today or in the week to come would you write a thoughtfully worded paragraph describing your experience as a student or graduate of the Institute? How has Dr. Adams impacted your life personally, and how have you used what you have learned to minister to others? We would like to share your testimony on our website. We can tell prospective students what we think and what we are seeking to accomplish but your testimony and endorsement would have a far more effective impact. Would you take perhaps a half hour to write up and share your experience with us? You can send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for staying with me through this longer than usual email. We treasure your partnership with us in this ministry. May God bless you as you consider how you can help us promote the ministry of the Word of God to hurting people.