Start, Stop, Continue is a simple yet catalytic team building, feedback, and decision making exercise with a variety of applications that every church leader should have in their facilitation toolkit. When I am called in as an outside consultant to facilitate strategic conversations, this is my default feedback tool. Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
You will need three surfaces. For a group exercise I prefer to use three tear off sheets taped to the wall titled START, STOP, CONTINUE. For individual use I prefer a Start/Stop/Continue Exercise Sheet.
Begin by identifying the subject matter or focus of the exercise. Then explain the exercise as follows:
START: What should I/We start doing?
- Things that are not being done, but should be done
- Things that are new and worth trying or experimenting wit
- Things we should do to be more effective and efficient
- Things that help address new realities or gaps
STOP: What should I/We stop doing?
- Things that are not working or contributing to desired results
- Things that are impeding progress, counterproductive, or are no longer practical
- Things that are no longer cost effective
- Things we or others dislike
CONTINUE: What should I/We continue doing?
- Things that are working well
- Things that show potential but need improving
- Things that we like or want to keep
- Pieces of processes or programs that we want to stop, but others we want to continue to avoid “throwing the baby out with the bath water”
This exercise can be done silently by asking each participant to print their ideas on sticky notes and place them on the appropriate sheet, followed by a report out time. Or, it can be facilitated in a group free form brainstorming fashion.
Tip: Replacing a “stop” with a productive “start” is usually better than merely ending something.
Tip: Identifying a “stop” for every “start”, such as with programs or events, is helpful in creating the necessary margin to implement successfully
Tip: Thinking in terms of how “continue” items might be improved helps optimize the initiative or activity
Tip: Ask for input on all three charts simultaneously, rather than sequentially, to improve dialogue and distribution of ideas
Tip: Use the Dot Voting Exercise to prioritize each list.
Pick Your Purpose
For the most part, any change that you want to see occur personally, with your staff, team, church, or organization is an opportunity to employ this exercise. Other opportunities to use the Start, Stop, Continue Exercise include when you wish to autopsy an event, when you learn a new skill, want to improve a specific ministry, increase organizational efficiency, or need to solve a problem.
Here are some specific examples to enhance your understanding of the exercise and provide ideas for its application.
Program Pruning and Prioritization – typically churches continue to add programs without stopping a commensurate number. Annual goal, budget, and calendar planning is a great time to use this exercise.
- Start: A Veterans Combat Trauma Ministry
- Stop: Annual Easter Egg Hunt
- Continue/Improve: Vacation Bible School and expand the bus pick-up locations
Process and Systems Improvement – use this exercise to identify how to improve your church and ministry processes and systems.
- Start: A task force to review our governance system and recommend changes
- Stop: The bulletin tear off guest tab and replace with a guest card in the pew rack
- Continue/Improve: New member process and add a dinner with the pastor and staff
New Vision/Direction – with a fresh vision comes the need to evaluate how things are currently being done and identify what changes need to be made to pursue the new vision.
- Start: Plant a downtown church for the homeless
- Stop: Participation in the Downtown Rescue Mission
- Continue/Improve: Hosting Room in the Inn and start asking Sunday School Classes to serve each night
Behavior Change – use this exercise to evaluate personal, individual, or group behaviors.
- Start: Include a guided prayer component in all worship services
- Stop: Church wide fellowships and distribute the budgeted funds to Small Groups for hosting class fellowships
- Continue/Improve: Expand Guest, Senior Adult, and Handicapped parking and add spaces for Single Moms
Value Change – cultural values can be positive, negative, actual, or aspirational. Use the Start, Stop, Continue Exercise to identify and hone the values you wish to emphasize.
- Start: A monthly “Lunch and Learn” staff development meeting with guest speakers
- Stop: Offering children’s sports leagues and encourage members to be “salt and light” by participating and coaching in city leagues
- Continue/Improve: Monthly life change testimonies in worship services but move from live to taped testimonies to better control time and content
New Circumstances – a great time to use this exercise is when new opportunities, challenging problems, or changing circumstances confront your church or organization.
- Start: A ministry to the employees of the new Toyota Plant
- Stop: TV ministry and reallocate those funds towards improving technology and social media
- Continue: Special Needs Ministry but focus more on the growing adult special needs population
New Measures – the Start, Stop, Continue Exercise is useful when the numbers tell you something is wrong or going unexpectedly well.
- Start: Offering Pre-K childcare on Sunday nights due to increase in young adults with small children
- Stop: Providing free meals to families following funerals
- Continue/Improve: Hosting more weddings and hire a part time Wedding Coordinator to improve communication and policy compliance
New Leadership – a natural time to use this exercise is when a new leader arrives and wants to add their perspective to the church or organization.
- Start: Children’s Worship
- Stop: Sunday night worship service
- Continue/Improve: Wednesday night Prayer Meeting but move to multiple teachers
Self-Development – use the Start, Stop, Continue Exercise to evaluate your current self-development initiatives and identify the new development activities you will pursue.
- Start: Seeing a therapist to fully understand my family of origin issues
- Stop: Attending the annual state convention church growth conference
- Continue/Improve: Church site visits and add a written report of my take-a-ways to my supervisor
What other examples would you include?
Posted on March 27, 2018