James Penner and Associates

JPA is an innovative youth consulting and research group that resources and educates  individuals and organizations who care about youth, their families and their communities. Their insights are instructive and even revolutionary.  They seek to help empower adolescents and young adults to become all they can be. 

James’ consulting is informed by continual connections with youth and young adults directly –relationships he has forged over the last three decades and continues to forge.   These emerging adults are ASSOCIATES – strategic consultants and researchers for James in his work.


James Penner, BA (Education), MA (Sociology)

JP is a Lethbridge-based speaker, author and sociologist who researches and consults with parents, educators, and professionals about youth and youth issues.   He is widely versed in the recent literature on youth, and brings a unique synthesis of experience and conviction. His style is dynamic, his approach is warm, and his effect is inspirational.

Because of his breadth of background, he has an uncanny ability to make youth understandable, when many people find their attitudes and behaviors sometimes incomprehensible. He has a reputation for being approachable and treating people with dignity and respect, no matter their age, race or status.   He has recently completed national research on spiritual trajectories of young adults raised Protestant and Catholic (www.hemorrhagingfaith.com).  He spends time weekly in retreat, developing an interior life adequate for his exterior roles.   This affords him time to keep discovering what Frederick Beuchner defines as vocation, where one’s “great gladness meets the world’s deep need.”

“James is a superb resource for people who care about youth. He is one of very few Canadians who is both a skilled researcher and experienced practitioner, allowing him to thoughtfully discern what’s happening with youth as well as explore how those who value youth might respond. Penner further fuses findings with faith, and presents his insights with clarity, warmth and passion. I commend him most highly.”

-Dr Reginald Bibby, Author of Resilient Gods: Religion’s Demise and Rise in Canada and Everywhere Else (forthcoming in 2017), U of Lethbridge Dept of Sociology


Passion and Scope

The insights of James Penner and Associates (JPA) are instructive and even revolutionary.  For the past fifteen years they have been engaged in research and writing on such topics as millennial consumerism, aboriginal youth, youth culture, and the relationship of youth to religion and other social institutions.

As a sociologist since the mid ‘90’s, James has been examining and collecting national youth data via interviews, surveys, and by working in the trenches in the front lines of social change.  He has been consulted by government agencies, employers, schools, parent groups, and faith communities.  He has also created a popular “Sociology of Youth” course which he has taught at the University of Lethbridge for 15 years, and he continues to teach at post-secondary institutions across the country.

In 2012 James Penner et al released a ground breaking research document titled Hemorrhaging Faith: When and Why Canadian Young Adults Leave and Return to Church.  Since then James and his team have crisscrossed the country helping Canadians understand the relationship of millennial youth not only to church, but also to other Canadian social institutions. He has also addressed audiences in the US and parts of Europe.  Presenting together with millennials, JPA teaches about meaningful intergenerational relationships in a way that resonates with all audiences.

Millennials’ top values continue to be friendship, freedom, trust, honesty and being loved.  But because of our culture’s individualism, credentialism, materialism and hedonism, today’s youth are being severely diminished.   JPA helps empower millennials to discover their identity, achieve maturity, deepen the intimacy of their relationships, and realize their divine destiny.   On any given day youth face many decisions complicated by a bombardment of unlimited and unfiltered information.   Some decisions are benign; others carry with them a lifetime of consequences. Growing up in today’s word is becoming increasingly challenging, with a complexity that runs deeper than the worn-out cultural expression:  “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.”

The images and stories that bombard young people today are many-faceted, ambiguous and enticing.   The hustle and bustle is fast and pervasive.   The story of life, the space to ask oneself questions, and the opportunities to be authentic and closely related to trustworthy people – these are all now harder to find.   JPA equips and advises people of all ages how to shape and inform the transitional period from youth to adulthood.