Forming a Gospel Community

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Church planter Shawn May describes Midland, Mich., as an “oasis of success” in the economic desert of neighboring auto industry towns dried up by the recession.

Yet according to May, behind the pristine façade of immaculate boulevards and amenities such as a minor league baseball team and a gleaming theater and library funded by the town’s two Fortune 500 firms, Dow Chemical and Dow Corning, lives a corporate culture far less independent than it would like to think it is.

“People think they can take care of their own needs; they don’t see how others can help them,” said May.

May and his wife, Rachel, felt a clear call from God to serve in the city they had fallen in love with over several years of living there.

In April 2012, the Mays began to plant kernels of faith and community in the stubborn, self-reliant soil of Midland. The result is a pilot group called Trinity Grace CRC, a Home Missions partner ministry.

“We have a vision to form a gospel community where the gospel affects all areas of life,” said May. “We hope to meet together in homes, and from there reach into the natural relationships that exist in the neighborhoods.”

For a society of executives and scientists, many of whom think in terms of the provable and finite, hearing the message of salvation from the infinite God could lead to just the kind of upheaval this orderly town needs.

“It’s exciting to think of reaching the people here who think they have it together,” said May. “Trinity Grace is just now in the ‘laboratory phase,’ a description the chemists here in Midland understand.”

About the Author

Lorilee Craker, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., in a 1924 house full of teenagers, pets, exchange students, and houseplants. The author of 15 books, including Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me, she is the Mixed Media editor of The Banner. Find her at or on Instagram @thebooksellersdaughter.