Here in Indianapolis we have been having what they call "Knozone Action Days" recently. Those are days when the heat, humidity, and pollution have reached a dangerous level, and so we citizens are asked to help by engaging in "Knozone Action" like not mowing our yards until evening, not filling our gas tanks until after 6 PM, and reducing driving as much as possible. The idea behind the Action Days is to limit the formation of ground-level ozone, which can be harmful to people with respiratory health conditions. There is a lot of publicity to help us be in the "know" about ozone dangers, and to act on these "Knozone Action Days." The spelling of the word "Knozone" intrigues me. It is interesting that they don't spell it "Nozone" as in "do nothing to further damage the air." Rather the spelling implies being in the "know" in order to take action which is helpful.
It reminds me of the remark made to me by an old rancher in western North Dakota while I was Bishop in the Dakotas Conference. I was leading district workshops on the role of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee and the importance of the PPRC developing a good profile of their pastoral needs in order for us to appoint the right pastor to them. This old, weather-beaten rancher talked to me at break time, and he said, "Bishop, you are making it too complicated. Most of us just want you to send us a pastor who knows that the Gospel is true." When I inquired more about what he meant by that phrase, he said, "We can always tell right away whether or not our new pastor really knows Jesus, or just knows about Jesus. All of that stuff you talked about doesn't matter. Just send us a pastor who knows the Lord."
That sense of "knowing" is essential in the life of the church. Perhaps every church ought to work to become a "Know Zone" -- a place where our worship, Christian education, faith formation, Bible Study, small groups, and outreach all lead persons into opportunities to know -- to really know -- the truth of Gospel. Knowing about the Gospel, knowing about Jesus, knowing about the faith is not enough -- people are hungry for an authentic spiritual experience of coming to know the faith on a personal level.
What actions are needed for us to become a "Know Zone" of faith? The traditional spiritual disciplines still apply: Bible Study, worship, prayer, Christian conferencing, fasting, giving to the needs of others, and working for God's justice in the world. Faith always must be partnered with action, but action without knowing is just busy-work.
During these hot and humid days of summer, let us find ways to make all of our churches and all of our lives a "Know Zone" of faith.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner