top of page

The FAMiLY Leader celebrates 25 years!

On Saturday, Oct. 30, The FAMiLY Leader celebrated 25 years of ministry!

Over 500 pastors, friends, and supporters – as well as current and former board and team members – commemorated the occasion with a 25th Anniversary Gala at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines.

The evening included a look back at The FAMiLY Leader’s journey, a look forward with a vision for tomorrow, and a challenge to join with TFL in saving lives through pro-life work in Iowa. The Gala also included a fine dinner and performances from the Dove Award-winning musical group Selah.

“We are tremendously grateful,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader. “It was a beautiful evening to be with friends, remembering those who have given so much to this ministry and honoring God for the favor He has shown.

“It was the kind of evening that makes me realize how God has put us here ‘for just such a time as this’ and causes me to believe this could be our finest hour,” he said.

The FAMiLY Leader, originally known as The Iowa Family Policy Center, was founded in 1996, in large part, from the vision of Dr. James Dobson, then president of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dobson envisioned a network of state-based organizations advocating for laws and policies that reflect biblical values and benefit the family. Today, over 40 state organizations, including Iowa’s The FAMiLY Leader, as well as the Family Policy Alliance, trace their roots back to Dobson’s vision.

Over the past decade, however, The FAMiLY Leader in Iowa has pioneered an evolution of Dobson’s vision – from policy-driven organizations toward a more ministry-centric paradigm.

Today, The FAMiLY Leader focuses on intentionally and authentically partnering with the Church in its mission, bringing the power of the Gospel and building shepherd-to-shepherd relationships within the arena of government. This biblical and more organic focus has proven to inspire Christians to engage with government – including elections and policy – not merely for political gain, but to genuinely transform the culture and advance the Kingdom of God.

“There truly is power in enabling and encouraging the Church to be the Church in the arena of government,” says Vander Plaats. “Life-transforming relationships are built, the spiritual atmosphere at the Capitol is transformed, the Church’s timeless voice and moral compass to government is restored, pastors and congregations get involved, and vibrant partnerships are forged for government and churches to work together in blessing and healing communities.

“I’ve always said that we don’t need the Church to be more political, we need it to be more biblical,” he concluded. “And over the last decade, The FAMiLY Leader has spearheaded a deliberately biblical approach that God has favored and blessed. I really believe this is how we advance righteous policy and how we build a biblical partnership with the institution of government.”

The Gala also introduced attendees to a pair of videos produced specifically for the event – one that looked back at the early days of the Iowa Family Policy Center and The FAMiLY Leader, and a second that set the stage for a look forward at what’s to come:

A look back

"Family Forward"


bottom of page