Terry Merritt was early in her career as an executive in the construction business when she volunteered to serve with 3-year-olds on Sunday morning. She has now been teaching 3s at Ward for 38 years, and her passion for preschool ministry has only grown.
Why did you first begin volunteering in WardKids?
I heard that there was a need for more leaders, and I decided that I could do that. I was working full-time but decided I could have a career, be a wife and mom, and do more than just attend worship service.
Many think that serving with 3-year-olds is baby-sitting while important things are going on in the church. How do you respond to that?
That is absolutely not true! Three-year-olds are spiritually hungry. You spark an interest that they may not yet have. This age is the basis of where they learn about God. At 3, they are ready to talk about the Bible and talk about Jesus. You get to be there to be part of their beginning faith in God.
How has serving with 3-year-olds been beneficial in your life?
I honestly learn so much from these children. They have no biases. They do not judge. They are eager to learn and are smart. You experience what a little praise does to motivate them. I’ve learned techniques for dealing with the 3-year-olds that I have honestly applied to staff at my work.
I’ve been so blessed by doing this. I was in line at the food trucks on Kick-Off Sunday, and in front of me was a family who thanked me for teaching all of their children, and said there were ‘no more’ coming to my group. It’s special to have siblings and to be able to support young parents through the years. I’m able to give parents feedback as their children make progress in the group setting.
My own grandsons were in my classroom, and I loved to see how they were learning and grabbing on to truths. They attended Ward preschool and came up through Ward Kids ministry. Watching them accept Christ and learning the Bible has been such a blessing. They will often watch me and remind me of what the Bible says. They have watched me lead, and I believe it will encourage them to volunteer as they get older.
What would you say to a busy adult who is uncertain about having space in their life to volunteer?
For the short time you spend serving, it is such a blessing. What God gives back is so much greater. I believe working with children is one of the greatest ways you can serve God. Some children come from difficult situations, and you can give them a little extra love. For me – I don’t have to think twice. I love it, and there’s still a need.
I think people owe it to themselves to try it. Give it a chance. Don’t be surprised – but you will really be blessed.
Ward Kids ministry has openings for more volunteers. Contact Justin.Tucker@ward.church.