Since the beginning of the pandemic, Scott Gray, a Criswell alumnus and pastor of First Baptist Church of Mesquite, has worked to improve and maintain online worship services while staying true to the mission of sharing the Gospel.
When Pastor Gray and his staff decided to cancel services, they thought the church would be closed for about a week. The shutdown lasted far longer than expected as in-person services were postponed for about four months. Instead, services were moved to online streaming.
“The first Sunday for us was a nightmare,” Pastor Gray said. “We tried to stream services on Facebook Live and YouTube at the same time, but the bandwidth was terrible.” That was not the only hurdle that Gray had to navigate, however. He also had to address mixed opinions about the virus and safety guidelines.
“We have some people who think the pandemic is a great hoax and others who are so scared they do not want to stick their toe out the front door and everyone in between,” Pastor Gray said, likening the challenge of managing the disagreements to a juggling act.
The health crisis has kept FBC Mesquite from participating in fellowship events and public gatherings. But they have seen positive results from serving the church community differently during such trying times.
“One of the things that has greatly improved is our online presence. We have had quite a few people connect with us online. We have some people connecting with us who have never set foot in our church in person. So, that is a blessing,” Pastor Gray said. “We are trying to think of new ways to get out into the community, and at the same time practice social distancing and not be a hindrance to people. We are doing the best we can, that is for sure.”
Pastor Gray expressed his appreciation for the impact that Criswell has had on him. “Criswell College prepared me for ministry, and in that way prepared me for the pandemic. If our churches are going to be successful through this crisis, it will not be simply through creativity and new ways but by staying faithful to the word of God,” Pastor Gray said.
Pastor Gray earned a BA in Biblical Studies and a MA in Theological Studies from Criswell College. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree in Expository Preaching from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.