KGOY...Do You Know What This Critical Abbreviation Means?

If you want to reach today's kids, there's an abbreviation you need to know.


Here is what it stands for.

Kids Growing Older Younger

It's true.  Kids are growing up faster.  Marketing directors say 8 is the new 13.  Childhood has changed.  Here are just a few examples.

  • Kids are leaving toys behind at younger and younger ages.  An example is Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls.  In the late 1990's, their average target age was 10-years-old.  Today it is 3-years-old.
  • Sesame Street used to be targeted for 3 to 7-year-olds.  Now the target age is 3-4 year-olds.
  • The National Cosmetology Association reports that in the early 2000's the rule of thumb for a girl's first hair coloring appointment was 15-16 years-old.  Now it is 10-years-old.
  • Ask kids what gift they want the most and they will respond, "a cell phone."  And many do have one.  22% of kids ages 6-9 have a cell phone and 60% of kids ages 10-14 have one.
  • 9, 10 and 11-year-olds are now “tweens” who want to be teenagers rather than children.
  • Babies are put in front of "genius" videos.
  • Preschoolers are using tablets and laptops.
  • Forever 21 is a regular shopping destination for 9-year-olds.
  • 80% of parents think their kids are growing up too fast.
  • A Microsoft survey found that the average age children start surfing the internet unsupervised is 8-years-old.  And we know that with just one click, kids can be exposed to violence, pornography and obscenity.
  • 90% of children use their "play time" watching TV, playing video games or using computers.
This means you can't minister to kids like when you were a child.  Many churches are doing children's ministry like it is still 1980 and are struggling because of it.  Kid culture is not the same as it was even 10 years ago.  We must be willing to change and adjust what we are doing if we want to be effective.  This means being a student of kid culture and keeping up with current trends.  Know what they are streaming, know what they are reading, know what video games they are playing, know what music they are listening to, know what YouTube channels they are subscribed to, etc.  The goal is to look through the eyes of today's kids.

It is also important to remember not to "talk down" to kids.  Kids, especially tweens, quickly steer clear of anything that appears 'babyish."  And this includes how you communicate with them in your lessons, conversations and correspondence.  It is especially important to remember to target the oldest child in the room when you are ministering to multiple ages at the same time.  An example would be if you have a class of 1st - 5th graders.  Instead of bringing your lesson down to the 1st grade level, you should take it to a 5th grade level.  Do this and you will capture the attention of all the kids in the room.
I talk more about this in the book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry."  The truth is, with today's kids, a pre-teen service should look and feel a whole lot like a middle school service.

Give kids the opportunity to serve in roles that have traditionally been reserved for adults.  In every child's heart, is the desire to be trusted, feel significant, be seen as important, have the power to make their own choices and find a purpose.  Though they may not verbalize it, this is a big reason why they want to "be a big kid" and "grow up."  They see growing up as the pathway to get these needs met.  They can't wait to be teenagers, whom they see as having more opportunities for this.  Secular marketers know this and for the sake of profit, have geared their products to meet these inner needs of kids.  And kids, who long to "be big," have gravitated toward it.

For years, the church has made the mistake of suppressing this, telling kids instead to "sit still and be quiet."  Be seen, but not heard.  Our intentions were good.  We pushed back against the marketers who were trying to make our kids grow up too fast.  In some ways, this was a good thing, but the flip slide is, in doing so, we missed the the one area that kids should definitely grow up faster in...serving Jesus with their gifts and talents.

Kids can be greeters right along with adults.  Kids can help teach lessons.  Kids can lead worship in the "big service."  Kids help run the sound system.  Kids can pray over people.  Kids can lead people to Jesus.  Kids can go on mission trips with their parents.  On and on we could go.  It's time we let kids grow up faster in this area and in doing so we will see more of them serve Jesus for a lifetime.  It has been proven time and time again that kids who serve grow up and stick with their faith.

KGOY...keep this mind if you want to be effective.