How to Do A Start-Stop Exercise: Gain Victory Over Your Busy Life

start-stop exercise

Have you ever made a “To-Do” list and found it far too long? No one could possibly do all those things in the time available? Or maybe you don’t make lists, but experience a sense of inner pressure. You have too much to do. Disappointing people around you by not completing tasks on time, frustration is growing. You are disturbed that in spite of all the busy activities, you’re not seeing much progress. Not in the things that matter most to you – multiplying disciples among the unreached. Doing a Start-Stop exercise will help you get focused.

If we want to start a Disciple Making Movement (DMM) we must learn to spend our time and energy on disciple-making activities. Doing a Start-Stop exercise will provide clarity. It will improve your effectiveness as a DMM practitioner.

Decisions And Pressures

Work and deadlines were mounting. Reports were due. My email inbox was full of unread mail. Upcoming travel was about to pull me away from home once again. Family pressures added to the scenario. Should I cancel my weekly discipleship time with the person I led to the Lord a few months ago? What about skipping my prayer time today? Then I could get caught up on things I need to do!

Like you, I face these kinds of temptations.

Most of the believers in our churches work full-time. We want them to become disciple-makers and start groups of disciples. This is key to launching a movement. Every believer must embrace their responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission. How can they do that if we, who are full-time workers, don’t learn to stay focused on disciple-making?

I work as an author, writer and mission leader. It is challenging to make time for disciple-making and evangelism. I carry a very full workload.

Every day I must make choices to focus on what really matters to me. I must choose to do what God has commanded me to do in Matthew 28:18-20.

Yesterday, I set aside work pressures and chatted with a thirteen-year-old boy. He wanted to come over and make banana bread at my house. This teenager is someone on my Lost list. I pray for him each day. He is worth my time.

I’m learning to say “no” to the pressures, and “yes” to disciple-making and evangelism opportunities. This is critical if I want to be an effective disciple-maker.

Jesus Was Focused On What Matters

Our Lord was very focused. Scripture says He only did what He saw the Father doing. He was not distracted, overwhelmed or busy. He gave Himself to accomplishing His mission on Earth. Jesus knew where to give His time and energy. This clarity helped him relax while staying focused. He spread the good news of the Kingdom and invested in His disciples.

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

John 5:19 NIV

We need to be more like Jesus! What is the Father doing? Let’s stop doing things that are not fruitful or assigned by God for us to do. Let’s start doing what is most important.

This Start-Stop exercise will help you think this through and make changes. It only takes about 15-20 minutes to do.

How to Do a Start-Stop Exercise

1.Write down a list of all your routine weekly activities. How do you spend your time?

This is a bit like creating a budget. But it’s for time, not money. Before you make a financial budget, you have to know what you are spending your money on. In the same way, before you can evaluate your time, you need to see what you’ve been using your time to do.

Your list may include things like; buying groceries, cooking, emails, Facebook, watching TV, evangelism, exercise, prayer, meetings, reading books, playing with my children, etc.

2. Circle the items on the list that directly relate to disciple-making and to fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28-18-20).

3. Put a line through the things that are not very important to you. Or maybe they are a waste of time.

4. Evaluate, which of these activities are the most fruitful? They are working well, effective and important.

5. Then ask yourself which activities are good ideas, but they are not producing the results I want to see?

6. Take another sheet of paper. Fold it in half to make two columns and draw a line down the middle. On one side write the word STOP and on the other write the word START.

start-stop exercise
Do a Start-Stop Exercise

7. Under the word STOP, write down the things you are doing but as you thought about it, you realized they are not effective. These are things you want to STOP doing. Stopping these will create space for more disciple-making and evangelism.

8. Do the same thing with START.
Ask yourself what you need to begin doing to become an effective disciple-maker. One who multiplies disciples. Also, write down things you are currently doing but want to do more of.

Keep your list simple and pretty brief. Write down everything as you think of it. Then narrow it down to three key things in each column you will make a commitment to.

  • What three things will you start doing?
  • What three things will you stop doing?

Make a commitment to God, yourself, and at least one other person, about this. Decide when you will put it into practice. Set a friendly accountability appointment with someone to report on how you are doing with this.

Doing this Start-Stop exercise and being accountable about these changes, will increase your focus. It will help you say no to others (and yourself) when you feel tempted to spend time on activities that aren’t fruitful. God will reward your discipline and determination to stay focused. Kingdom results will come.

Let me know in the comments or on the DMM Facebook Group what your 3 things are.


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