In his new book, Platform, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt says that “every wow experience has some combination of” ten specific elements. As he lists them my mind began to relate to my own experiences as a Christian in the Kingdom of God. These ten combinations of elements snuggle quite tightly into what we could consider to be ten WOW! factors of the Kingdom of God.
1. Surprise. “A wow experience should always exceed our expectations. It creates delight, amazement, wonder, or awe.” When we offer someone the Gospel – the message of the Kingdom of God – it should exceed their expectations when they “get it”.
2. Anticipation. “Anticipating a wow experience is almost as good as the experience itself. As you think about it, you begin to live it in advance.” Christians live in the tension of what scholars call the “Already but Not Yet”. We are “already” saved and yet “will be” saved; “already” justified and yet “will be” justified. We “already” experience the victory of God and will see it in all it’s glory at the final consummation when Jesus returns. We are called to holiness now, though only then will we be perfect. But “as you think about it, you begin to live it in advance.” It’s that exciting.
3. Resonance. “A wow experience touches the heart. It resonates at a deep level. It sometimes causes goose bumps or even tears.” Think about the message that pierced you to the heart like the audience in Acts. Think about the heart wrenching time when you were in need and the Spirit of God ministered to you. Think about the occasion in song when all you could do is stand in awe.
4. Transcendence. “A wow experience connects you to something transcendent. In that moment you experience purpose, meaning, or even God.” A friend of mine wrote a blog article not too long ago. And in it he describe what worship meant to him, and one thing he said was that worship moves us beyond our preoccupation with our selves. The Kingdom of God is not just about experiencing the cross, nor just about experiencing the resurrection. It is also about experiencing the ascension.
5. Clarity. “A wow experience creates a moment when you see things with more clarity than ever before. You suddenly ‘get it’ in a new way.” Sometimes Christians forget that through the Scriptures God didn’t just speak in a closed canon that has nothing new to say. But rather he continues to speak, daily and into the lives of those who are willing to hear. If you’ve ever sat down with the Bible over your lap and one day gasped “ah ha!” you know precisely what I’m talking about.
6. Presence. “A wow experience creates timelessness. You aren’t thinking about the past. You’re not even thinking about the future. Instead, you are fully present in what is happening now.” In the Nativity story Jesus was called Emmanuel, God with us. At the end of the story – in Revelation – God looks forward to the day when “I can be their God and they will be my people.” But between the two we can experience in the present, His Presence; “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
7. Universality. “A true wow experience is nearly universal. Almost everyone will experience it in a similar way.” The Kingdom of God transcends national, cultural, ethnic, or gender distinctions. Yes, the Kingdom of God is a culture, and yes it is in some localized ways shaped by each culture it encounters. But ultimately each person who encounters the Kingdom of God, they will experience it just as remarkably as everyone else.
8. Evangelism. “A wow experience has to be shared. You can’t contain it. You immediately begin thinking of all the people you wish were with you.” This is why new converts often make the most zealous missionaries. Their “wow” experience is fresh and can hardly be contained like the prophet who exclaimed, “God’s message is like a fire shut up in my bones, I can’t contain it!”
9. Longevity. “The shine never wears off a wow experience. You can experience it again and again without growing tired of it.” Few things move me like the song my friend and I listened to while taking a road trip fifteen years ago; like the lit candle that my wife and I cuddled in front of on our wedding night; like the memory I have of the day I experienced God at the alter of a Church when I was eleven. The “wow experience” of the Kingdom of God is one that should be rekindled again and again.
10. Privilege. “A wow experience makes you proud in a good way… You feel privileged… but at the same time humbled that you had the experience.” As a fresh convert I remember thinking, “God, you died for me? For me!?” I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I know he died for the whole world, but that’s so general and impersonal. The fact remains, he came, lived, died, and rose again, for me! It’s a privilege which begs humility.