In Thriving in the City: A Guide For Sustainable Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor, T. Aaron Smith joins 100 fellow incarnational leaders to explore what it takes to thrive in urban poor ministry. This book equips both new and seasoned leaders to start strong, stay, and succeed in the uniquely difficult environments of the world's inner cities.

From Thriving in the City

"As I stood at this violent crossroads, I began to wonder at the process of learning to thrive in the midst of the pain and joy of urban poverty. Though I had seen many incarnational leaders come and go, I knew that there were also many who had stayed, and in fact had gone on to build full and rich lives and ministries among the urban poor."

"While urban poor communities are fruitful, exciting, and often beautiful places to participate in God's coming Kingdom, there are very real costs to relocating there. Living in poverty is painful and difficult, and the reality of urban poor life can feel like a massive burden on the shoulders of an incarnational leader. Being realistic about this toll throughout the decision-making process is crucial to sustainable ministry."

"Though there will always be personal disagreements between neighbors, widespread rejection from the urban poor themselves should definitely give pause to a leader. We might need to avoid detection by a government that is hostile to religion and ministry, and we might need to risk violence from the police or corrupt local governments, but our relationship to the urban poor is the very heart of our ministry. If the community members themselves are avoiding, ostracizing, or undermining you, it is time to stop, listen, and redirect."


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Praise for Thriving in the City

Thriving in the City: A Guide for Sustaining Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor is an outstanding practical guide that provides valuable insights into the issues and options faced by those who seek to live meaningfully among the urban poor as agents for transformation. It is a must read for those whom God is calling or are considering living among the urban poor and those wanting to support others in this path.

        Kevin Walton, Vice President, Thai Peace Foundation

This book covers the waterfront on incarnational ministry to a depth I have not seen in any other book. It works with this theme theologically, biblically, methodologically, attitudinally, and practically. And the reason it treats the subject so thoroughly is because Aaron and Ema Smith live it.

        Robert C. Linthicum, Founding Director of WorldVision's Urban Advance; Pastor of Urban Churches and Community Organize

This is an insightful and reflective work - a rich, thoughtful reflection on the decisions facing those who would live among the people they minister to - particularly among the poor. It is powerful in storytelling and brings clarity to the base truths we hope to live out. May we be found faithful in them.

        Kevin Blue, Author of Practical Justice

Aaron's Story

Author Photo. T. Aaron Smith, Christian Book and Christian Ebook Author: Author of Thriving in the City: A Guide for Sustaining Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor

T. Aaron Smith has interviewed many people who have made and are making this choice to live, to work, and to raise families within urban poor communities.

In his book, Thriving in the City: A Guide for Sustaining Incarnational Ministry Among the Urban Poor, he shares his own experience along with the stories of many others who have found Jesus's grace and power as they choose to live and serve among the urban poor.

Smith leads the Servant Partners team in Manila, Philippines, where he serves as a founding leader of Botocan Bible Christian Fellowship.

He also directs the Transformational Urban Leadership program at Asian Theological Seminary in Manila, and is the lead instructor in Servant Partners’ Global Urban Training School, Foundations.

He earned a Masters of Divinity from Asian Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Bakke Graduate University in Seattle, Washington. Aaron and his wife, Ema, and their sons, Zach and Ezra, continue to live and serve among the urban poor.


An early draft of this text was published under the title Living in the Neighborhood as a pilot project of Servant Partners Press. While the content is similar, the presentation is significantly improved in this edition. We do recommend that readers of the previous edition purchase this update.

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