If you’ve been around Shepherd, you have probably heard about our Poverty 101 training. This unique training helps challenge stereotypes about poverty and ultimately gives you a better understanding of the poverty mindset. If we are going to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of our neighbors, then we need to make sure we understand as much as we can about poverty.

If you’ve been through our Poverty 101 training, you know how useful this information is, no matter where you live. So, in the months to come, our Poverty 101 concepts will be featured here on our Shepherd News blog. We wanted to bring these concepts to you, so you can better understand and help alleviate poverty in your context. These articles will be written by our Poverty 101 educator, Tim Streett.

For more information about Poverty 101 or to schedule a class, please contact Tim Streett directly at or call Shepherd at 317-375-0203.

The Class

Poverty 101 is an educational outreach ministry of Shepherd Community, Inc. aimed at empowering and equipping God’s people to work with individuals and families entrapped in poverty. Shepherd Community’s mission is to Break the Cycle of Poverty on the Eastside of Indianapolis. Accomplishing this mission will require mobilizing an army of churches and volunteers who understand the complexities of poverty in today’s world.

What is poverty? What does it look like in your city? What does it mean to be trapped in poverty? How do I help someone in poverty? Interacting with several researchers and authors (Ruby Payne, Bob Lupton, Corbett & Fikkert, Search Institute, World Vision, Amy Sherman et. al) and incorporating Biblical perspectives and experiences at Shepherd we will discuss the cyclical nature of poverty and the self-perpetuating nature of the economic classes. We will look at the challenges of breaking the cycle of poverty. We will also discuss the assets needed to break that cycle (which are not limited to finances) and best practices among Christian ministries.

Session 1 – Introduction

a.       Personal Testimony

b.      The Evangelical Church and the Poor

c.       The Poor in Scripture

d.      Our Mission

e.       One Boy’s Story

Session 2 – Worldview

a.       The Context and Experience of Poverty

b.      The Context and Experience of the Middle Class

Session 3 – What is Poverty?

a.       Research on Poverty – Whose fault is it?

b.      Key Points to Remember – Not all poor people are the same!

Session 4 – Assets – It is not just about the money!

a.       Faith

b.      Health

c.       Support

d.      Emotional Stability

e.       Mental Acuity

f.       Models

g.       Self-advocacy

h.      Knowledge of Dominant Culture

i.        Future Orientation

j.        Money

Session 5 – The Hidden Rules of Class

a.       A Quiz – How to keep your clothes from being stolen at the Laundromat?

b.      The Hidden Rules of Economic Class – How was dinner?

Session 6 – The Language of Poverty

a.       Registers of Language – Whazzup?

b.      Mediation – Why do we wash our hands before dinner?

c.       Story Telling – Goldilocks and the Three Bears!

d.      Consequences – What happens if we can’t plan?

Session 7 – What does effective ministry to the poor look like?

a.       God Complexes vs. Inferiority Complexes

b.      Relief, Rehabilitation or Development?

c.       Asset Based Ministry/Community Development

d.      An Oath for Helpers

Session 8 – Vocational Stewardship. What now?

a.       Dimensions of Vocational Power

b.      A Talents Inventory

c.       Influence Audit

d.      Deploying our Vocational Power

e.       Conclusion


The Instructor

Tim Streett has lived and worked among the urban poor for 29 years in cities including Boston and Chicago.  He spent 20 years as a resident of the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood in Indianapolis.  He serves as the Assistant Director of Shepherd Community Center.  His primary role at Shepherd is to provide continuing education to staff, volunteers and partner churches through a ministry known as The Institute for Poverty Solutions.  Tim utilizes his twenty-five years of experience combined with a formal education in sociology to teach about issues of poverty, urban development, and urban ministry.

Tim is the former Executive Director of Jireh Sports, a mentoring program utilizing alternative sports, which grew out of a partnership with seven inner-city churches in the Martindale-Brightwood Community of Indianapolis.  Jireh Sports merged with Shepherd in January of 2008.   Jireh Sports was established in an old warehouse which sits on twenty acres of land.  Shepherd Community is successfully working with the Exxon Mobil Corporation to remediate environmental contamination and turn the property into an urban sports park.  Tim also founded The Ralston Trust, a charitable trust which seeks to acquire and redeem vacant and distressed property within inner-city Indianapolis.

Prior to taking the helm at Jireh Sports Tim served for seven years as the Minister of Urban Outreach for the East 91st Street Christian Church.  In that capacity he was responsible for the development of partnerships and outreach ministries in the inner-city communities of Indianapolis.  Tim also served for a time as the leader of contemporary services and preached most Sundays before 1000 members of 91st Street’s congregation.

Tim has a significant teaching ministry focusing on issues of racial reconciliation, forgiveness, poverty and urban ministry.  As a fifteen year old Tim witnessed the murder of his father during a random robbery.  As an adult he reached out to establish relationships with each of the men convicted of the murder.  One of those relationships grew into a friendship as Tim helped the man pursue his education and establish a successful life upon release from prison.

In the fall of 2013 Tim and his family moved to a small town in Southern Indiana so that he could pursue Doctoral studies at Bellarmine University in Louisville and begin to study rural poverty.  Tim is married to Stacy, who was the Media Specialist at The Oaks Academy, and now serves in that role at the Switzerland County School Corp. in Vevay, IN.   They have a twenty one-year old son Gabriel, who is currently working as a snowboard instructor in Colorado, and a nineteen-year old daughter, who is studying international relations at Indiana University.