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"What's Happening?" Summary

The “What’s Happening: The State of Youth Ministry in Canada” research project, delves into the current condition of Canadian Youth Workers and Youth Ministers. This project is the first of its kind to occur in Canada.

The published research findings are the cumulative voice of over 800 Canadian Church and Christian Youth Organization workers. The research participants were asked challenging questions to uncover the issues affecting Canadian youth ministry today and the path it is heading down for the future.

With the recent release of reports and documentaries the not-so-secret life of teens in our fast paced, technology infused culture has been a keen topic of interest. With “What’s Happening” the focus shifts from the teens themselves to the adults whose job it is to guide youth through their most formative years.

See the Survey
Click HERE to download the survey questions in PDF format.


The initial draft of the survey instrument was completed in February 2009. Decisions led to creating four surveys. Responses were solicited from church youth ministers, Christian youth organization (CYO) youth workers, youth volunteers, and former youth leaders. The survey was pretested on May 8 and the first distribution to the sample was on May 12, 2009. Over the next three weeks a total of 810 individuals responded. The survey was designed with nine separate sections and included twenty open-ended questions. An astounding 10,647 written comments were submitted.

Because there is no centralized youth ministry data system in Canada, establishing the research sample was particularly challenging. The overall strategy was to gather names of people who were involved in ministry roles with youth through churches and CYOs. The baseline for the sample came from people who attended the Youth specialties conference in Toronto in December 2008. Denominational youth leaders and administrators were invited to provide the names of people who were specifically involved with young people from their databases. The same approach was used with the Directors and CEOs of CYOs in the country. An initial analysis of the nature and distribution of the sample was conducted as the results were received. Differential calculations of the results were monitored as the number of responses reached levels of 250, 500, 670 and 800. It is the judgment of the researchers that a larger sample would not have had a significant impact on the current results.

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How to Read ‘What’s Happening’

The published findings are composed of fourteen topics that are subdivided into four separate categories: Navigating the Role, Leading the Leader, Discerning Culture, and Harmonizing the Players.

When all the research was complied, we found that the best way to clearly communicate the results was to divide each topic into four sections:

  1. What’s Happening – an overall summary of the findings
  2. What’s Up – data and statistics
  3. So What – key points and challenges
  4. Now What – Next steps