The Early Church planted the presence of God before they planted churches. In the Book of Acts, our original church planting manual, the birth of a local church came after the presence of God was released in a community through signs, wonders and miracles. The by-product of that release was the birth of a local church. Today, in some circles within the Church, we have lost this understanding. Our efforts have been focused on developing well-groomed plans for church planting while somehow thinking this can be accomplished and sustained apart from on-going encounters with the supernatural God of heaven. We may have become too practical and measured in our desire to reach our cities.
We owe people a supernatural encounter with God. These encounters are not always practical or measured. I wonder what would happen in our denominations and church planting movements if before we created well-crafted models of ministry we instead rediscovered the power and value of these God-encounters as a biblical key to unlock a city? Cities locked in unbelief would be turned upside down if cancer were healed. What would happen if lame people walked out of our hospitals or if a word of knowledge released in a corporate boardroom was able to create a new technology?
All of these breakthroughs would come as the result of a God-encounter, not our best laid plans. Those gathering around to witness these manifestations would then want to know more about the supernatural God they just witnessed. The by-product of that kind of an encounter would be a shared hunger that would find its expression in what we call a church plant. This is a healthy Kingdom progression where the product is always placed before the by-product.