If there is any place in the world that is a safe place to fail it should be in a healthy, Christian church. And our kids should know that. The members of the church must learn to relate to their kids the same way their Savior relates to them... "There is nothing you can do that will make us stop loving you. We may not be crazy about what you're doing right now, but it doesn't change how we feel about you. We may not appreciate what you're doing, but we're glad you're in here anyway."
Every youngster in our churches has the right to grow up knowing, "I didn't always make all the right choices and I know I sometimes disappointed them, but one thing I always knew - they loved me there. No matter how bad it got, I knew I could always go back."
Some kids are easier to love than others. Most kids are easier to love at some times in their lives than at other times. I'm convinced God often gifts churches with irascible kids and says, "You say you love Me...OK, here's your chance to demonstrate it. And remember, you love Me the same amount as you love the one you love the least."
So let me attempt to draft the kind of prayer our kids need to hear their church pray. It might go something like this: "Dear Lord, if there is any influence in our homes or in our church that is leading our kids in the wrong direction, please show us what it is. If there is something we are neglecting in our training of them, please bring it to our attention. If there is anything in us that is making it difficult for them to fall deeply in love with Jesus, make us aware of it.
"If the example we are setting of what a joyous Christian is in any way makes our faith unattractive to our children, dear God, we plead with you to forgive us and purge it from our hearts. And please, Lord, rescue us from the pride that wants our children to obey so their bad choices don't make us look like bad parents. If there is anything they are doing or they are becoming that we should know about, please show us what it is, and give us Godly wisdom as we help them through it. May this prayer-saturated church we are seeking to establish reach out with effectiveness into our community, but please may it begin in here...for Jesus' sake. Amen."