Layman Lessons Ministries was begun in 2000 by Nashville businessman Louie Johnston, Jr. As founder/director, he was soon called by God into full-time unpaid ministry and became an ordained minister. Since its founding, all that God has done through Layman Lessons has been done with no paid staff, including Louie Johnston, Jr. who has always been a primary donor, never taking a dime for personal use or gain.
This has led the ministry to be recognized as one of the most efficient non-profits in the country.
“It’s all God’s doing in spite of us,” said Johnston with a big smile on his face.
Much of the credit goes to its volunteers like the ministry’s treasurer, CPA David Hairston.
Hairston’s fiscal guidance helps to make Layman Lessons, one the most efficient ministries in the nation with over 99% of every dollar donated going to feed the homeless.
“It’s a great example of Christian stewardship in Nashville and the nation,” he said.
According to Rev. Johnston, 99.7% of all donations went to feeding the homeless in 2016 and 99.8% of the donations in 2017.
Along with Johnston, Hairston and his fellow CPA Alex Jenkins work along with attorney Steve Perrigo to make sure that the charity is able to dedicate as many dollars as possible to the mission of caring for the homeless.
“Louie is the guy. He does everything,” said Jenkins. “He does all the deliveries and street ministries. We did a lot of the financial statement buildup and the history, making sure that everything was accounted for in the right spot so that we could actually get on paper the value of what he’s doing.”
That value comes to between 55 and 67 semi-truckloads of food delivery each year.
So how does one of the best charities in the U.S. celebrate their recognition?
“We are very pleased to open up the new tithe barn to allow us to expand our mission to even more of the homeless to Middle Tennessee and beyond,” said Hairston.
A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing rents and tithes. Farmers were required to give one-tenth of their produce to the established Church. Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory, and independent farmers took their tithes there.
According to Rev. Johnston: “To Layman Lessons Church, our ‘Tithe Barn’ function is to feed the local needy in God’s name is the core of our religious exercise in obedience to God of the Holy Bible.”
The 2,100 square foot Tithe Barn built in 1941, was first used as a cattle barn with sleeping quarters, then as a Country General Store for over 40 years, followed by the past 37 years as a storage barn without utilities of any type.
The barn was renovated with the help of volunteers that included Aaron, a homeless recipient of Layman Lessons generosity.
“[Rev. Johnston] delivered food to us, then one day said: ‘Aaron do you want to work with me?’ and I said ‘yeah.’” said Aaron. “He delivers food down to us every Saturday, and they help us so much that without them I don’t think we could survive.”
Layman’s Lesson also has the first totally self-contained mobile showers and laundry center for disaster relief for the homeless.
“Layman Lessons obeys God’s five priorities for every Christian,” said Rev. Johnston. “To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, preach God’s word, and train disciples.