Historical Timeline

Historical Timeline

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:



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



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).



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


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 Irreplaceabledocumentary 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.


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.



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


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


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.


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

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.

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).


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).


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.



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



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



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


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).


February 25

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



Jim Daly is appointed Chief Operating Officer. Option Ultrasound™ Program places its first ultrasound machine in Clinton, IA.


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).



First major step in leadership transition occurs when Don Hodel, Reagan Cabinet Secretary and Focus Board member, assumes role as President, taking Focus’ day-to-day operational responsibilities.


March 26

25th birthday of Focus on the Family; marks the anniversary of the first Focus on the Familybroadcast. 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.



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

April 1

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


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


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



Dr. Dobson announces 10-Year Plan for Leadership Succession.



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).



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!”)



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.


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).


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


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



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


Dedication of Focus on the Family Welcome Center



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.



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



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.



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

April 1

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


Parental Guidance publication premieres (later becomes Plugged In).


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


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


Learn to Discern: Help for a Generation at Riskseminars 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.


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


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.



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


Focus office moves from Arcadia to Pomona, California.


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

November 21

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


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



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


Focus on the Family publishes its first book, Twice Pardoned, by Harold Morris Focus on the Family magazine tops one million in circulation.


March 8

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


January 2

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


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


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


November 2

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


March 31

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



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


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).



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

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