In 2017, Focus on the Family celebrated 40 years of strengthening marriages, equipping parents, speaking on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves and addressing public policy issues affecting the family.
“It’s an honor to be part of 40 years of strengthening millions of families,” Focus on the Family President Jim Daly expressed. “Our work in helping couples in crisis has contributed to over 170,000 marriages saved in 2017 alone. There are similar stories about people’s lives changed for the better through our efforts in evangelism, parenting, advocacy for children and engaging the culture, as well. It’s breathtaking to think of how many individuals have been impacted over four decades – and we feel we’re only getting started.”
Vice President Mike Pence calls ministry “a champion without equal for American families”
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at Focus on the Family’s 40th anniversary chapel in June with an address that congratulated the ministry for “40 years of consequence for faith and families” and encouraged staff to “press on” and “consider 40 years just a good start.”
Through its Option Ultrasound program, Focus on the Family donated an ultrasound machine to the Life Center in Wabash, Indiana, in honor of the vice president’s commitment to the sanctity of human life.
The vice president’s visit garnered widespread media attention with coverage in outlets including the Associated Press and The Denver Post. More than 30 journalists from national and local media outlets attended.
Focus President addresses key issues of the day
Journalists seeking comment on items in the news turned to Jim Daly, and he addressed topics such as the adoption-tax credit battle in interviews with The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He spoke to the Christian Broadcasting Network and wrote an op-ed for FoxNews.com about the firing of Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in Washington State, who was ordered to stop praying at mid-field after games. He regularly highlighted issues of concern to Christians in his blog Daly Focus with statements on sexual assault scandals, the Masterpiece Cakeshop hearing, the restoration of the adoption-tax credit, the birth control mandate rollback, talking to kids about racism in the wake of Charlottesville, the Supreme Court’s Trinity Lutheran decision, a pro-life analysis of President Trump’s first 100 days, and Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.
His ninth book, “When Parenting Isn’t Perfect,” released in June. In it, he encourages parents to realize that they, like their children, aren’t perfect and don’t need to be – they’re called to do their best in Christ, knowing that God works through all the messy family situations that are a normal part of this life.
Reaching millions over the airwaves
Over four decades, the “Focus on the Family Broadcast” has built an estimated weekly audience of 6.1 million listeners. And these listeners are highly satisfied with the program – the “Focus on the Family Broadcast” scored an 84 in a Troy Research perceptual study, notching a higher score than many much-loved national brands. “Reasons to Believe in Jesus” with Rev. Canon J. John topped all other programs in terms of listener response.
The “Focus on the Family Broadcast” also hit the television airwaves for the first time with a program on GOD-TV, reaching more than 20 million homes in the United States.
Magazine for teen girls makes a comeback
In May, Brio magazine relaunched to address faith, healthy relationships and other topics from a Christian perspective. The New York Times, NPR, Christianity Today, Slate and other national outlets featured the magazine’s return.
Inspiring moviegoers to make a difference
More than 118,000 people attended screenings of “Mully” in 712 theaters nationwide. The film tells the story of Dr. Charles Mully, a man who gave up riches and power to help tens of thousands of the more than 2.6 million abandoned children living on the streets of Kenya. A portion of ticket sales went to Mully Children’s Family and Focus on the Family’s orphan care initiative. Focus spokespeople reached a potential audience of nearly 4.4 million people through radio interviews about “Mully.”
Contending for the preborn and children in foster care
Hundreds attended the second-ever Evangelicals for Life conference in January as the event attracted a greater evangelical presence at the 44th annual March for Life. Focus President Jim Daly shared a keynote message on “The Life-Changing Influence of Foster Care” and interviewed with media outlets including The Atlantic, NPR and The Christian Post.
Option Ultrasound passed a significant milestone in 2017: more than 400,000 babies are estimated to have been saved since the program began in 2004. The program has given grants covering a large portion of the cost of an ultrasound machine or sonography training to nearly 750 pregnancy resource centers. Wait No More, which has inspired more than 3,500 families to initiate adoption from foster care, held four events in 2017. Raising Highly Capable Kids, a 13-week, evidence-based parent program that helps moms and dads raise healthy, caring and responsible children, has reached 107 communities across the United States, engaging more than 16,500 parents.
Hundreds of thousands of students bring Bibles to school in October
Close to half-a-million students took part in the fourth annual “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on Oct. 5. This student-led religious freedom event has significantly grown since 2014 when it began with 8,000 kids, equipping students to share with classmates the hope and love they receive from reading their Bibles and celebrate their First Amendment religious freedoms in a simple way. The event received a boost from Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin who encouraged residents of his state to bring Bibles to school.
“Bring Your Bible to School Day” was covered by outlets including CBN News, The Christian Post, The Denver Post, the Colorado Springs Gazette and the Baptist Press. Focus spokespeople did 22 radio interviews on the event, reaching a potential audience of more than 1 million listeners.
Impacting the culture through civic engagement
Focus encouraged its constituents to support Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and tens of thousands of citizens contacted their senators to urge a “yes” vote as a result. The ministry created a comprehensive landing page about the pick and Focus President Jim Daly weighed in, lauding Gorsuch for his promise to “strictly interpret the Constitution and our nation’s laws and not make new law from the bench.”
Uniting couples in crisis and preparing millennials for marriage
Over the past year, 810,000 couples have been strengthened through Focus on the Family resources, and 170,000 marriages in crisis have been saved. Hope Restored, a marriage intensive program for couples facing extreme crisis, assisted 700 couples, breaking registration records.
“The Boundless Show” recorded its 500th episode in September. Geared towards millennial single adults, the program also won an “Award of Excellence” in the “Youth Digital” category from the Evangelical Press Association.
Helping moms and dads with biblically based wisdom and encouragement
“Adventures in Odyssey” celebrated 30 years of recording audio dramas. The Federalist and WORLD Radio’s “The World and Everything In It” featured Adventures in Odyssey’s 30 year milestone in stories.
Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine also marked 30 years of producing inspiring content for children in 2017 and for the second consecutive year, the magazine won the Evangelical Press Association’s “Award of Excellence” in the “Youth” category. Clubhouse Jr. also won an “Award of Merit” in the same category.
As teen suicide dominated the headlines in the wake of Netflix’s series “13 Reasons Why,” Focus on the Family assisted parents grappling with the program and the issues it raised with “Parent’s Guide to 13 Reasons Why,” covering bullying, self-injury, sexting, rape and sexual assault and suicide. This resource was picked up by the Association of Christian Schools International which provided the link to all its member schools.
Plugged In equipped families with tools to understand and navigate the culture in which they live, publishing an average of 15 movie, music and video game reviews each week. The most-read reviews of the year were for “The Shack” and “Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder Woman,” and the team reviewed the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in December. Plugged In’s Adam Holz also joined CBN News to talk about the attacks on faith in the film “Mother!” The one-minute Plugged In daily radio feature reaches an estimated weekly audience of 9.4 million on 954 stations, and nearly 775,000 people each month visit the Plugged In website.
Global outreach impacts families worldwide
Focus on the Family’s 13 associate offices span the globe helping families with the shared joys and struggles common to people everywhere. Focus on the Family Egypt’s outreach to those affected by the violence in its region continued in 2017, providing indoor plumbing for 42 families in a city that’s suffered great loss at the hands of terrorists. Through local church partners, the ministry also distributed more than 10,000 dignity kits containing basic hygienic necessities to displaced Syrian and Iraqi women residing in Amman, Jordan.
Publishing inspiring content families can use
On the publishing front, Focus on the Family released the “Adventures in Odyssey Children’s Bible” to help children dig deeper into God’s word with dozens of fun features and more than 200 devotionals featuring the characters from the award-winning children’s radio drama.
Setting sail with nearly 4,000 friends
In November, thousands joined the Focus on the Family 40th Anniversary Cruise with award-winning Christian band Mercy Me, Focus’ Jim Daly, Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, Danny Huerta and John Fuller, and special guests including Ray Vander Laan and Dr. Del Tackett.
Looking ahead to 2018
Focus on the Family and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission are partnering together for the third annual Evangelicals for Life conference, which will be held Jan. 18 – 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Attendees will join tens of thousands of Americans taking part in the 45th annual March for Life on Jan. 19.
Along with Focus on the Family President Jim Daly and ERLC President Russell Moore, more than 40 speakers representing a wide range of pro-life causes will encourage evangelicals to be a voice for vulnerable populations including the preborn, the orphan, the elderly, and those with special needs.