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What Does It Mean to Be Faith-Based?

ICPADS is a faith-based organization. You’ve probably heard that term before, as many businesses and organizations may describe themselves in a similar manner. But what does ‘faith-based’ really mean? In this article, we are going to look at the term ‘faith-based’ and define what it means to our mission and work.

The Term ‘Faith-Based’

The adjective ‘faith-based’ can be used to describe any number of things. For example: 

  • Faith-based organization
  • Faith-based business/brand
  • Faith-based movie
  • Faith-based counseling

And the list goes on…any number of things may be described with the adjective ‘faith-based.’

When we look at the words ‘faith-based,’ the surface-level definition seems pretty self-explanatory: it means that something is based on faith…in other words, that the thing to which you are referring (the organization, business, movie, etc.) gets its information or ideas using faith as the source.

Faith is tied to religion, and we see this in formal definitions of faith-based. For example, Dictionary.com defines faith-based as, “affiliated with, supported by, or based on a religion or a religious group.”

And this is where the confusion starts. According to Wikipedia, there are roughly 4,200 different religions in the world today. So if ‘faith-based’ means being affiliated with a religion or getting one’s ideas from a religion, then ‘faith-based’ can mean a lot of different things! 


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)


Our Faith-Based Roots

The faith-based roots of ICPADS go back to when the program was first started.

The program, originally called Interfaith Community Men’s Shelter, was founded in 2002 by two ladies who were concerned about the homeless men during the cold winter months. They organized churches within the community to share in the responsibility of caring for these men who had no place to go or no food to eat. 

Although the name eventually changed to ICPADS, up until the summer of 2020, the program was still supported by local churches in Michigan City. These churches would take turns hosting the homeless guests. They would rotate to share responsibilities so that the ‘location’ of the shelter changed every day and ran on an organized schedule.

The participating churches were affiliated with many denominations and used different names to describe themselves, including ‘non-denominational,’ ‘Pentecostal,’ ‘evangelical,’ ‘Presbyterian,’ ‘Lutheran,’ and ‘Missionary.’ 

But the one thing they all had in common is that they were all Christian churches, meaning that they teach forgiveness and redemption through belief in Jesus Christ as Savior.

What Faith-Based Means to Us

In the summer of 2020, ICPADS purchased the Sacred Heart Church building and established a permanent location for the shelter.

Therefore, our daily operations no longer happen at local churches but, instead, everything happens at our own ‘headquarters.’

We are still a faith-based organization though, and here is why.

To us, ‘faith-based’ means…

  • Support: Despite having a permanent home for the shelter, we are still supported by local Christian churches.
  • Love: We believe that God has told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we do our work out of a spirit of love.
  • Service: We are committed to serving others, especially the less fortunate in our community.
  • Stewardship: We have the responsibility to be good stewards over what we have been given, and we apply this idea to how we manage our facility, donations of goods, and monetary gifts.
  • Partnership: We believe that we are doing this work with and for God, so we look to Him for support and guidance as we make decisions.

Now that we’ve defined what faith-based is, it is equally important to be clear about what faith-based does not mean to us.

Faith-based does not mean descrimination based on faith/religion NOR does it mean that we have any faith-related requirements for homeless guests who stay with us. Guests, volunteers, staff, donors…we treasure the opportunity to work with people of all faiths/religions.

And we would love for you to join our mission too! If you are interested in working with us, check out these pages for more information: volunteering, donating goods, monetary gifts.

We also have a big event coming up in November and we would appreciate your help in making it a huge success!

Stay tuned, as we will be sharing the details in our next blog post.

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