9Marks Ministry Book Review: Encouragement, by Mark Chanski

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An Excerpt from Mark Redfern’s analysis:

Chanski begins the book with the metaphor of adrenaline. Adrenaline is able to push us through difficulty, carry us in hardship, and empower us in weakness. He writes, “What adrenaline is able to chemically and physiologically do for the body, encouragement is able to emotionally and psychologically do for the soul” (5).

Then, in the first chapter, he motivates us with what encouragement accomplishes through a brief survey of Proverbs: encouragement strengthens, gladdens, fattens, sweetens, and enlivens. Knowing that encouragement does not come to even redeemed sinners naturally (otherwise it would not need to be commanded), Chanski supplies us with a broader perspective on the personal benefits of abounding in encouragement. He also roots our motivation to encourage others with the gospel with God’s gracious motivation of us in the gospel. We are called to give to others what God so abundantly supplies to us. In fact, Chanski devotes a whole chapter to the gospel as “the ultimate encouragement.”


With the motivation in view, Chanski guides us into understanding our obligation to encourage others. He gives us a model to follow through an extended look at Paul’s encouraging words to his co-laborers in Romans 16.

Chanski is clear that encouragement can come in a variety of ways. There’s concrete expressions of encouragement like direct commendation, communicating our approval, name recognition, passing on good reports, and cheering others on. But there’s also indirect expressions, too, like appropriate physical touch, body language, and expressing empathy. All of it covers our clear biblical obligation to be encouraging.


The book especially excels in its penetrating diagnosis of why we don’t encourage. Chanski carefully exposes how our sinful self-preoccupation wars against a biblical others-orientation.

It’s helpful to know why we should encourage and what it looks like to do so. But if we really want to grow in this, then we need to take an extensive look “under the hood” at what disinclines us from doing so. 


The latter chapters of the book explore the role of encouragement in three vital areas: marriage, parenting, and the church. These chapters are especially noteworthy for their specific examples and practical takeaways. Any pastor or church member will find more than sufficient “provocation” to good works.


A word of encouragement: Purchase, peruse, and practice this book. Don’t just purchase it. And don’t just peruse it. Practice it.

You can read the whole review here: https://www.9marks.org/review/book-review-encouragement-by-mark-chanski/

About savedbygrace1976

Mark Chanski (author of Manly Dominion; Womanly Dominion; and Encouragement: Adrenaline for the Soul) has labored as a full-time Pastor since 1986 in churches in Ohio and Michigan. He has been Pastor of Harbor Church in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. He has also been elected as Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Network. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches Hermeneutics for the Reformed Baptist Seminary in Sacramento, CA. Mark is married to his wife Dianne, and has fathered their four sons and one daughter, whose ages stretch from 36 to 26 (born 1983 to 1994).
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