Our 40th Anniversary: Focus on the Family Milestones

Endeavoring to minister to as many people as possible with the message of Christ, Focus on the Family has experienced incredible growth around the world since its inception in 1977. The following timeline represents many of the significant events in the history of the ministry:

  • 2017

    May

    Brio relaunches in May 2017.

    November 13-17

    Focus’s 40th anniversary celebration takes place aboard the Disney Dream on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas.
  • 2016

    July

    Focus’ main broadcast studio is remodeled to add new visual and digital capabilities that include six video cameras and special lighting.
  • 2015

    January

    Debut of the Odyssey Adventure Club (later re-named Adventures in Odyssey Club), a monthly membership program to provide streaming episodes as well as other special programming for subscribers.

    March 4-6

    Focus and Kindred Image release The Drop Box; in theaters over three nights, 250,000 people in North America view the documentary about Pastor Lee Jong Rak’s work taking in abandoned babies in South Korea (subsequently, more than $1 million is raised for the Global Orphan Care Fund).
  • 2014

    January

    Focus on the Family Clubhouse changes name to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine, combining Focus’ popular children’s brands.

    May

    Focus acquires the National Institute of Marriage in Branson, Missouri (now the Focus on the Family Retreat Center) and subsequently unveils Hope Restored intensive marriage counseling.

    May 6

    Focus-produced Irreplaceable documentary premiers during a one-night event in theaters; encore screenings are scheduled due to high demand; more than 100,000 viewers attend across the USA and Canada.

    October

    The Boundless Show begins airing on radio (currently on 300 stations nationwide). Public Policy division sponsors first annual “Bring Your Bible to School Day” in support of student religious freedom.
  • 2013

    February

    Focus on the Family radio broadcast is honored as the 2012 Program of the Year by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB Convention).

    October

    Debut of the Digital Engagement Center, providing opportunities for interaction with people seeking help through online forums.
  • 2011

    November 28

    Focus on the Family receives recognition at the White House Observance of National Adoption Month for the Wait No More program and efforts to find adoptive families for kids in foster care.
  • 2010

    February 7

    Tim Tebow ad airs on national TV during the Super Bowl game; Barna Group reports that the ad caused more than 5.5 million people to reconsider their position on abortion.

    February 27

    Dr. Dobson steps down from his broadcasting responsibilities at Focus; a farewell chapel honors Dr. and Mrs. Dobson.

    March 2

    Jim Daly and Dr. Juli Slattery begin hosting the Focus on the Family daily broadcast, and John Fuller continues to anchor the program.

    July 2

    Option Ultrasound™ Program awards 500th grant (by the end of 2016, a total of 720 grants had been made, and it’s estimated 382,000+ preborn babies have been saved since the initiative’s inception).

    August

    Raising Highly Capable Kids parenting curriculum is piloted in Santa Ana school district in California (293 schools and 516 churches had been trained by the end of 2016).
  • 2009

    February 27

    Dr. Dobson announces his resignation from the Board of Directors of Focus and becomes Chairman Emeritus.

    October 11

    Focus establishes presence on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
  • 2008

    November

    Focus on the Family radio program is inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame
  • 2007

    March

    Podcasts of Focus on the Family broadcasts launched March 26 – 30th Anniversary of Focus on the Family.

    September

    Jim Daly’s autobiography, Finding Home: An Imperfect Path to Faith and Family, is released
  • 2006

    February

    Focus on the Family broadcast named "best radio talk show" by National Religious Broadcasters

    March

    Focus announces the 200th placement of ultrasound services through the Option Ultrasound™ program

    May

    The Truth Project™, a Christian worldview video series debuts in the inaugural conference in Charlotte, NC

    November

    Focus’s Adoption and Orphan Care Initiative launches to encourage adoption and raise awareness of the needs of legal orphans (3,433 families have now initiated adoption from foster care after attending a Focus Wait No More event)
  • 2005

    January

    Focus on the Family joins the Tsunami relief effort.

    February

    Jim Daly is installed as President and Chief Executive Officer in all-staff investiture service after 16 years of service at the ministry.

    June

    \Plugged In Web site reaches one million visitors monthly.

    August

    Focus on the Family launches TrueU.org, a Web site for college students.

    September

    Focus on the Family joins relief effort for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
  • 2004

    June

    Focus releases Last Chance Detectives radio series for children

    October

    Focus on the Family-produced radio programs exceed 5,000 stations & 155 countries with an estimated global audience of 220 million.
  • 2003

    Jim Daly is appointed Chief Operating Officer.

    January

    Focus on Your Child newsletter, audio journal and Web site launch to provide parents with age-specific resources.

    February

    Option Ultrasound™ Program places its first ultrasound machine in Clinton, IA.

    April

    Focus on the Family Action, a cultural action organization legally separate from Focus on the Family, is formed (later renamed CitizenLink and becomes Family Policy Alliance in 2016).

    May

    Don Hodel becomes president of Focus on the Family, Dr. Dobson becomes Chairman of the Board.
  • 2002

    March 26

    25th birthday of Focus on the Family; marks the anniversary of the first Focus on the Family broadcast. Also, July 25-28, Focus held a week-long anniversary celebration that included festivities on campus, ministry-wide chapel, and a concluding event at the Pepsi Center in Denver with Chuck Colson and Michael W. Smith.

    November

    Focus on the Family Ireland opens.
  • 2001

    January

    National Bike Ride for the Family begins; ends with the Colorado ride in conjunction with Focus' 25th Anniversary in July 2002.

    August

    Focus on the Family Egypt opens.

    December

    Focus on the Family Singapore opens.
  • 2000

    January

    Focus on the Family Radio Theatre (a weekly radio drama for families) begins.

    April 1

    Official Adventures in Odyssey website is launched (whitsend.org).

    April

    One millionth visitor welcomed to Focus on the Family headquarters and welcome center.

    September

    Class of the Focus on the Family Institute doubles in size.
  • 1999

    January

    Focus on the Family New Zealand opens. Dr. Dobson announces 10-Year Plan for Leadership Succession.
  • 1998

    September

    Video No Apologies: the Truth About Life, Love, and Sex is released. Boundless, webzine for college students, debuts. First Love Won Out conference in Columbus, OH; these one-day seminars were created to provide a compassionate and comprehensive examination of the complex issues surrounding homosexuality and to offer the life-changing power of Jesus Christ (Final conference is held in 2009).
  • 1997

    March

    Focus on the Family celebrates 20th anniversary.

    July

    Official Focus on the Family Web site is launched.

    August

    Focus on the Family Malaysia opens.

    September

    Renewing the Heart conference debuts to a sold-out crowd of over 19,000 in Nashville, TN (Final conference is held November 1999 in Tampa, FL).

    November 29

    Adventures in Odyssey 10th anniversary is marked by a live recording in Colorado Springs (“New Year’s Eve, Live!”)
  • 1996

    April

    Focus on the Family Taiwan opens.

    May

    Gunman in Focus lobby takes four employees hostage; after several tense hours and prayers from around the world, hostages are set free without harm and the gunman surrenders.
  • 1995

    First set of That the World May Know: Faith Lessons videos released; 14 volumes are eventually released, as well as the Christmas Story (1999) and the Easter Story (2000).

    January

    Focus on the Family Indonesia opens.

    July

    Focus on the Family Korea opens.

    September

    The Focus Leadership Institute opens its doors to college juniors and seniors (Final on-campus session is held the summer of 2014).

    November

    First Internet presence established on America Online; full website launched July 1997 (www.family.org).
  • 1994

    January

    Sen. Bob Dole appoints Dr. Dobson to serve on the Commission on Child and Family Welfare.

    June

    Films Department releases Last Chance Detectives series for kids (eventually there are three releases in the series).

    September

    Dedication of Focus on the Family Welcome Center
  • 1993

    August

    Focus on the Family Australia opens.

    September

    Focus dedicates its new permanent headquarters on 45-acre campus in Briargate area of Colorado Springs. More than 15,000 guests join us for the dedication of the new campus.

    November

    Focus on the Family sponsors first Physicians Conference to professionally strengthen and spiritually equip medical doctors and their spouses. Focus on the Family Southern Africa opens (later becomes Focus on the Family Africa).
  • 1992

    Film Sex, Lies and the Truth is released International Department is created
  • 1991

    February

    Dr. Dobson inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

    August

    Creation of Pastoral Ministries under the Reverend H.B. London, Jr. Focus moves approximately 350 employees to Colorado Springs, with another 400 hired in Colorado.

    November

    First Focus on the Family radio broadcast in Russia.
  • 1990

    March

    Brio and Breakaway magazines for teen girls and boys premiere. (Both publications are suspended in February 2009; Brio relaunches in May 2017.)

    April

    Focus accepts $4 million grant from El Pomar Foundation for the ministry to move to Colorado Springs.

    July

    Parental Guidance publication premieres (later becomes Plugged In)
  • 1989

    Jim Daly begins his career at Focus on the Family as an assistant to the President in Public Affairs.

    March

    Focus releases first McGee and Me! animated children’s video with Tyndale House (12 videos ultimately released).

    April

    Learn to Discern: Help for a Generation at Risk seminars begin; led by Youth Culture Specialist Bob DeMoss, they are eventually held in more than 300 U.S. cities and also in Canada and Germany; more than 100,000 parents ultimately attend; seminar is released on video in 1992.
  • 1988

    First Family Policy Council opens. Focus Films releases A Man Called Norman. Care for the Family sister ministry (United Kingdom) opens.

    January

    Clubhouse Jr. magazine debuts (ages 3-7) to more specifically target ages for readership (Clubhouse readership is now ages 8-12).

    February 1

    Enfoque a la Familia Spanish broadcast debuts.

    October

    Family Research Council partners with Focus on the Family.
  • 1987

    February

    Original Clubhouse magazine debuts for ages 4-12 (Clubhouse Jr. begins later)

    September

    Focus office moves from Arcadia to Pomona, California.

    November

    Board of physicians to advise Focus on medical issues, called the Physicians Resource Council, is formed. Focus on the Family Citizen magazine debuts.

    November 21

    First episode of Adventures in Odyssey airs on 200 stations (The first 22 episodes were called Odyssey USA).

    December

    G. Harvey creates first painting for Focus on the Family, Bond of Faith.
  • 1986

    April

    Focus makes a commitment to provide free resources to Crisis Pregnancy Centers; more than 1,500 centers respond.

    May

    Focus on the Family magazine tops one million in circulation.

    June

    Focus on the Family publishes its first book, Twice Pardoned, by Harold Morris
  • 1985

    March 8

    The film series Turn Your Heart Toward Home is taped in front of 16,000 people in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum (eventually seen by an estimated 40 million people).

    May

    Dr. Dobson accepts appointment to Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography (1985-1986).

    December 14

    The first 60-minute Weekend radio broadcast airs to recap the week’s Focus on the Family radio programs.
  • 1984

    November

    The United States Army appoints Dr. Dobson to advise on matters concerning soldiers and their families.

    July

    Focus on the Family’s first international office opens in Canada.

    November

    The 90-second James Dobson Family Commentary begins airing on radio stations nationwide.
  • 1983

    January 2

    Broadcast goes worldwide via Armed Forces Radio satellite, potential audience of 1 million military personnel and their families.

    March

    Focus on the Family opens the doors of its first international office in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada).

    July

    First edition of Focus on the Family magazine, a publication featuring practical advice about family relationships, is released.

    December

    Focus breaks ground on a new headquarters in Arcadia, Calif., in the first structure designed and built for the ministry.
  • 1982

    Dr. Dobson is appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Advisory Commission for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1982-1984).
  • 1981

    June

    Tribute to Focus on the Family by U.S. House of Representatives recorded in the Congressional Record.

    August

    Focus staff is consolidated in one building in Arcadia, California, and the staff grows to 34.

    November 2

    Daily radio broadcast expands to 30 minutes; the 30-minute show begins on KBRT and quickly spreads to other stations.
  • 1980

    March 31

    Focus on the Family radio expands to a daily program 15 minutes in length. It is heard on approximately 200 outlets.

    June

    100th radio station carries the broadcast.

    August

    Dr. Dobson is appointed to the White House Conferences on the Family.
  • 1978

    September

    Dr. Dobson’s seminar is videotaped in San Antonio at Trinity University auditorium, later resulting in seven films called Focus on the Family.
  • 1977

    March 26

    First Focus on the Family broadcast, “Let’s Get Acquainted,” airs as a 25-minute weekly program on 40 stations (anniversary date of Focus on the Family as an organization)

    June

    Focus on the Family incorporates as a non-profit organization with a staff of one in addition to Dr. Dobson.
  • 1976

    September

    Dr. James Dobson requests a one-year leave of absence from Children’s Hospital to start Focus on the Family