Howdy! My name is Claire Manno and I am the Youth Ministries intern for the summer. The Justin Building has been my home since I was a Confirmand in 2012 and I’m so excited to be back in a new role.
This summer, our Sunday school series is “Big Questions.” As we all know too well, there’s a lot of things in Christianity that are difficult to understand, even as adults. Do you know what hypostatic union is? Neither did I. Every week we have a new question — such as “Who is God?” or “What is Sin?” — and we break it down alongside the youths. The mornings start with some lighthearted fun, such as creating God’s schedule for the day (after lunch, he has free time) or giving Jesus a new outfit (Gucci belt and Chacos, anyone?) before diving into the more complicated topics. The central idea throughout the summer is encouraging the youth to answer these questions with their own thoughts and opinions, not just listening to what we have to say about it. Religion and faith are individual to each person and we want them to have the opportunity to express their own unique ideas about centuries-old topics.
So far, we’ve had some very impressive answers to tough questions. I can’t say I’m surprised, though, as some of the smartest people I know are 12 – 17 years old. They understand complicated concepts, like hypostatic union from last Sunday’s “Who is Jesus?” discussion, but put them into different, less formal words. Take for example one youth’s answer to being asked how Jesus is both different than and the same as God. “Jesus and God are like Superman and Clark Kent: two different people, but both with the same power.” A centuries-old debate that has split churches, all summed up neatly in one culturally-relevant sentence by a 17-year-old girl. The academic terms may not be well-understood by teenagers, but I’d wager most of us don’t know them that well either. That is, however, part of the magic of what goes on in the Justin — the most dense theological concepts can be understood and retold not by scholars, but by ordinary middle and high schoolers who often don’t even realize they’ve done so.
I think if more biblical concepts were told by teenagers, Gucci belts, and Superman, we’d all understand them much better.
Youth Ministries Intern