Who do you associate with?
As an individual, family or Christian community, this is a good question because it can affect how we see ourselves, how others see us and, most importantly, this can impact the way we are influenced and can influence others...
One church I visited recognised its relationship with the local housing association ( responsible for the 14,000 homes in the parish). The housing association staff are all ( from the CEO down) made to walk around the estates in their care and formally share their findings. ( Imagine if a county council made that happen!)
The housing association also produces a regular bulletin to all its residents and offers a free space for community groups to meet.
By recognising the need to build up its relationship with the housing association the church has enriched its ministry and enlarged its impact.
Local priests regularly join housing association staff on their walkabouts thus building up personal relationships.
When a priest is concerned about a household they can contact the housing association staff member directly rather than refer to an (already overburdened ) council social services employee.
When the church is doing stuff ( hosting a school uniform 'swap' day, starting a community choir, offering free singing lessons) such activities are listed in the monthly housing association bulletin and reaching 14,000 homes for free...
Another church produces its own community bulletin (conveniently coming out just before Christmas, Easter and the summer holidays) and, a month or so before publication, invites all the local community associations ( housing agencies, health professionals, councillors, sports centre reps, school heads etc. etc.) to a community lunch with a speaker.
As well as hearing from the speaker about a topic of interest to the community and informally networking, community groups can share upcoming news to be featured in the next edition of the community bulletin.
Relationships develop, the church serves the wider community ( rather than being perceived as being 'closed' or "self serving") and God is at work in the midst of all these associations.....
SO - who do (or should) we associate with in Ruthin.....?