Being A Reservoir Adds Freshness to Your Preaching

Being A Reservoir Adds Freshness to Your Preaching

This past week I read in Bruce Mawhinney‘s interesting book, Preaching with Freshness, about the difference between being a reservoir or a pipe.  A pipe takes water from another source and immediately distributes it to a different place.  A reservoir also takes water from another source, but then keeps it, preserves it until a need for water is discerned.  Then, it distributes it out of its  resources.  For the sake of this post, remember that being a reservoir adds freshness to your preaching ministry.

We are considering how to add freshness to your preaching, so that people in your church are more impacted by your messages.

Applying The Reservoir Imagery To Your Preaching

If you are a pipe preacher, you study for your sermon, and then use all of your preparation materials for that sermon.  Is that you?

On the other hand, a reservoir preacher studies way beyond the present message.  The reservoir preacher reads Scripture beyond the sermon preparation.  Also, the reservoir preacher reads broadly.  The purpose of reading is  not just to complete the sermon for that week.  Rather, the intent is to fill up the reservoir of knowledge and spiritual strength.

Bernard of Clairvaux put it well in this quote:

Bernard of Clairvaux

“If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. For a canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus communicates, without loss to itself, its superabundant water. In the Church at the present day, we have many canals, few reservoirs.” ~ Bernard of Clairvaux

Or,, to put it another way, being a reservoir adds freshness to your preaching ministry.

What Are Your Sources for Filling the Reservoir?


The reservoir preacher reads beyond the message being prepared for that week.  I have to confess that for many years I was a pipe, or canal, preacher.  I was so overwhelmed by my schedule, that reading beyond the basic needs for the week I thought was impossible.  However, I found that when I began to reorder my life to put a priority on preaching, that there was time.  I connected it with my prayer life.  In my prayer structure I had a time called “meditation”.  I found that reading a book during that brief time of 15 minutes expanded by knowledge base.  Sometimes I chose a Bible study, other times a gathering of someone else’s sermons.  Sometimes I chose a theological tome.

That may not work for you.  Develop a process that works for you, but read beyond the message.  Choose material that will expand your reservoir, so that when you preach, you are able to pull things out of that will add freshness to your preaching.  Again, being a reservoir adds freshness to your preaching.


A second way that being a reservoir adds freshness to your preaching is to expand your prayer life.  My personal mentor spends one day per month in prayer.  He schedules it in and protects it.  A local monastery is the place where he spends that time.  Prayer and journaling are the focus of the day.  I asked him once what the results of that day were for him.  His response was that what God revealed to him on that day preceded every major advance in his ministry.

Give this a try.  Where can you spend such a day?  What will you take along?  Will you fast?  This is another way to add to your reservoir of spiritual power that will add to your preaching.


A third way to add to your reservoir is study.  You may be able to do this on your own, in your own office or study.  I found that taking a class or going to a seminar helped me focus on the information.


The bottom line, again, is this: being a reservoir adds freshness to your preaching ministry.  Make this part of your focus and the people to whom you preach will appreciate it, and power will flow.