Layman Lessons Christian Church Ministries Creed
January 2003 (Servant Louie Johnston)
We believe in the one and only God, defined as Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnibenevolent, Alpha and Omega, Infinite, Perfect, Creator and Sustainer of all life, who either causes or permits all circumstances, who creates all things for His purposes and pleasure, whose Miracles (Public Display of God’s Power), Multiple Manifestations (in any form he chooses) to reveal Himself, who is Spirit, include Pillars of Fire by night, Pillars of Clouds by day, a Burning Bush, a Human figure protecting innocent followers in a Fiery Furnace, as God and Man Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit descending “like a Dove”, an audible human voice saying “this is my Son in whom I am well pleased”, an audible animal voice through Balaam’s donkey, a detached hand, writing on the walls of a King's palace, and even through Mankind, all of which were documented with God’s Mercies, Relationships, Prayers, Promises, Punishment, and Procedures, all passed from generation to generation, the Logos and Law from the one and only Living God, establishing Divine Rule of Christian Faith and Practice, documented and compiled without error, in perpetuity, for eternity, in The Holy Bible.
We believe God the Father, Creator and Sustainer of all life, Jesus Christ as the only earth born son of God, whose birth established universally accepted time on planet earth, and The Holy Spirit sent forth from God at His pleasure, are the only worthy and proper objects of human religious Praise and Worship, and in regularly assemblies of believers as congregations to Worship.
We believe God the Father’s Holy Spirit is imparted with God’s specific plan for every human life at conception, that God creates every human Soul at conception, which consists of the human Mind, Will, and Emotions, that the Soul (Mind, Will, Emotions) dies with the body, and that the Spirit immediately returns to God for eternity. The Holy Spirit is imparted a second time and recreates a new life in Christ at conception during the salvation experience when a person is "born again", through the Holy Spirit.
We believe that God made a way for sinful man to have personal, individual, and direct relationship with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, who by His Virgin Birth, voluntary suffering and death on the cross, paid in full the penalty for all eternity for all past, present, and future sin of all mankind, making atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will call upon God to be saved, may be saved, from eternal hell and to receive a new life of the highest possible quality, from the moment of acceptance and commitment through eternity.
We believe that Repentance (Hating and Renouncing of sin, then walking away from sin towards God), Faith (our actions demonstrating belief, trust, commitment, and confidence in our unseen Lord Jesus Christ) and Regeneration (becoming a new creature through acceptance of and obedience to Christ) by the Holy Spirit are necessary to receive the free gift of salvation.
We believe that we are justified before God solely by His Mercy and Grace, through our living our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone justified us with His shed blood as the final sacrifice required for sin. We follow the examples of Jesus Christ in Baptism by full immersion in water, observing “The Lord’s Supper”, and fulfillment of the law of Moses, and The Bible.
We believe that God’s Word, The Holy Bible, contains God’s Covenant (Contract with Man), including all Terms and Conditions for mankind to comply with, in order to receive the Promises of God documented therein. Continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedience through faith in Christ as a demonstrated lifestyle, in pursuit of Holiness unto God, while recognizing all humans sin in thought, word, deed, both sins of commission and sins of omission, that occasional sin is not a lifestyle pursuit. We believe Galatians 5 which states those whose lifestyle pursuit consistently exhibits the sinful nature described will not inherit the kingdom of God, and that this instruction was given to the Church, whose members had received the gift of salvation, warning the Church members accordingly.
We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe “The Church” is defined as “a group of people called together for a special purpose”, not as an organization, doctrine, or Campus of buildings, but as a living organism, with all Christians on planet earth being equal members of “The Church”, as God is “no respecter of persons”, with The Bible in its entirety, and the Holy Spirit, as the sole and superior authorities of The Church, leading every Church Member directly in a direct personal relationship of service to God, as Friends and Family of God. Members of any local Church are members of “The Church” at large, thus members of any Church may serve in and/or through multiple local “Churches”, as led by the Spirit of God alone. Thus Laymen do the work of The Church under direct calling and supervision of The Holy Spirit.
We believe that no man, group of men, or organization has spiritual superiority, position, or title that gives anyone authority that belongs to Jesus Christ alone, as Lord and Savior over any other Christian man, group of men, or organization in the body of Christ (The Church at large), as each and every member of the body are equal as “body parts”, brought together to work together for the maximum efficient functioning of the body to do the work of God on earth, as God determines and reveals through His Holy Spirit directly to every man individually.
We believe every Christian man must study God’s Word personally to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ alone, with a direct, personal, ongoing relationship, without interference or distraction.
We believe man’s mission from God, and the “Plan for our Peace”, is stated in Isaiah 58:6-8 and Matthew 25:37-40, To Feed the Hungry, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, Spread the Gospel, Make Disciples, Care for Widows and Orphans (the poor and deficient). Further confirmation is Luke 14:12; Matthew 25:37-40; James 1 and 2, and some 1,300 References in The Bible to Feeding the Hungry and Clothing the Naked. God’s work is the Layman’s Mission. Every Layman is commanded to perform God’s work and agenda only, as led directly by the Holy Spirit.
We believe that everything we possess belongs to God, thus the tithe of our increase, whenever we receive increase, is a minimum amount to return to God as our love gift for HIS work, but also that 100% of all tithes every third year are to go directly to provide food for the poor and needy in our own local towns, as stated in Deuteronomy 26:12. We believe this passage of scripture should always be equal with Malachi 3:10, which also confirms the purpose of the tithe is "so there will be meat in my storehouses", for those poor and needy, widows, orphans, aliens, who are unable to provide for themselves.
About Layman Lessons
Layman Lessons Ministries began in 2000, founded by current "servant director" unpaid volunteer minister Louie Johnston Jr., preceding formal corporate organization as a Tennessee Non Profit corporation, formalized in 2003 as an approved IRS 501c3 Religious and Charitable Organization. In September 2003, Layman Lessons Inc. acquired a Church in Shelby, NC known as Welcome Baptist Church/Rescue Mission, and merged that Church with existing Layman Lessons Ministries. Layman Lessons Ministries in Shelby, NC held regular inter-denominational Church services for the public in the Chapel of the Rescue Mission building owned by Layman Lessons since 2003, located at 302 N. Washington Street, where daily meals for the homeless were served. The North Carolina services ceased in 2004 from lack of local support. Tennessee Church services were established weekly in January, 2003 in downtown Nashville locations, using a Mobile Stage, seating for 150 homeless, Mobil Clothing Store on a bus, and feeding a hot banquet meal after the non denominational Church service concluded...this all volunteer Church of Laymen has served Homeless for 8 years now.
"Layman Lessons" began as a series of Christian books, "Lessons" straight from the Bible for every "Layman". It evolved from 2000 into intensive personal ministry and research by Author, Founder, Funder, and Director Louie Johnston. Louie Johnston has 30+ years experience in Lay Ministry to people with Addictions, Homelessness, and serious Mental Illness, a unique combinations of skills from the Spiritual perspective, but also is a nationally known expert identifying "best practices" in Behavioral Healthcare, then designing and implementing State of the Art computer systems that insured those best practices are followed, where exceptions are brought to managment attention immediately, continuing upline quickly until resolved.
Extensive Bible Research to find God's priorities for Christians is clear. The highest priority for every Chrisitian Layman is to Feed the Hungry, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, and Make Disciples! Louie Johnston invested 3 years as a volunteer with Teen Challenge, an international Drug and Alcohol Christian Rehabilitation program, featuring Street Ministry to Feed the Homeless. He directed and produced Operation Compassion, a documentary about Homelessness and Addiction, researching and assembling the very best practices from proven successful organizations like the Campus for Human Development in Nashville, TN. These "best practices" produced new, creative ways of ministry proven successful, comprise Layman Lessons. The proven programs are now documented in "Franchise Ministry" form, so that "Any City, USA" can implement these programs with Christian volunteers.
Layman Lessons Inc. established itself as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization of volunteers fighting Hunger, Homelessness and Addiction problems in America. Our 2003 Audited Financial Statement and IRS Form 990 was the last required before becoming a Church, thus it is the last posted Financial Statement. We remain in good standing with the IRS and State, according to the IRS in January 2007, after an extensive audit back to inception. The audit of our finances, mission, and Administration found no changes required or needed, giving 100% approval in writing with the statement "Layman Lessons continues to be in good standing with the IRS". All donations are charitable contributions with full deductibility according to IRS rules.
Our Mission is to lovingly and unconditionally Feed the Hungry, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, Preach the Gospel (Good News), through open air Street Ministry. For those counseled in Street Ministry that truly want to change their lives, we Make Disciples via our Christian Discipleship Training Centers that offers proven successful Addiction Recovery and Restoration for "Re-Entry" back into mainstream society. We provide Food, Clothing, Housing, Training, Transportation, Public Health care and Behavioral Healthcare, for those who truly want a "New Life". Our Street Ministry services are at no cost to the Homeless or Needy. Our Residential Training Centers are funded by donations to provide Shelter, Food, Clothing, Training, Transportation, Laundry, on an average of $100 weekly to working Men and Women...less than $15 daily, which enables them to save at least half their earnings!
Our Training is intense daily Bible based Character Education, without denominational bias. In fact we encourage individual research of opposing denominational positions to allow each man to develop or reinforce his own beliefs as God leads. Strong beliefs are vital to success.
Our students in training do the work setting up and taking down the Saturday street ministry, serving food and drinks to the very peers they used to do drugs with, learning to serve others rather than themselves. Our students wash those 170 plates, forks, and plastic tumblers after the Street Ministry banquet. Our volunteers make sack lunches to go. These are Bible Based Lessons for Christian Laymen, thus the name Layman Lessons.
Our Non-Denominational Addiction Recovery programs are filled by our Homeless and Prison ministries, particularly our Street Ministry in Middle Tennessee, and Rescue Mission ministry in North Carolina, and by the courts, as far away as Connecticut. We also have “selected” Juveniles, Orphans, and Men and Women of all ages and from all backgrounds and socio-economic groups succeed in our Training Programs. One Juvenile Orphan, court ordered to our program from Connecticut, went from being in Reform School in 2004 as a high school junior to a senior graduating in 2005 with a Straight A academic record, and induction into the National Honor Society! A portion of our graduates are referrals from Churches across America.
MILLERSVILLE, Tenn. (W.) March 11, 2008 -- The United States District Court for Middle Tennessee ruled that the city of Millersville, Tenn. violated the constitutional rights of Layman Lessons when it threatened application of a "pending zoning ordinance" as a means of blocking the ministry's use of a commercially zoned property, a Christian law firm said.
"The court rejected the city's contention that, as long as it had a pending ordinance that addressed Layman Lessons' intended use of this property, it could indefinitely delay acting on the ministry's application," said Larry Crain, a senior attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and lead attorney for the plaintiff. "In essence, the court ruled that 'justice delayed is justice denied.'"
When Layman Lessons, a Christian ministry, formed to aid the homeless and destitute, it faced problems after it applied for a use permit for a commercially zoned property in Millersville, a town 17 miles north of Nashville: The city planner issued a letter rejecting the application due to a then-pending ordinance that, if passed, would have limited all religious and nonprofit uses on any commercial lot in the city.
That, in essence would have resulted in Layman Lessons' application being placed on indefinite hold.
Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. concluded that through these maneuverings the city denied Layman Lessons its constitutional rights, violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
As a further hurdle to the ministry's use of the land, the city imposed a so-called "buffer strip" requirement on the property, ACLJ said. Such strips, which require an expensive privacy fence to be constructed around the property, had heretofore only been required when a commercial property abutted a residential property. The Layman Lessons' property was surrounded on all sides by commercially zoned properties.
The city of Millersville had argued that it could not be held liable under RLUIPA for the actions of employees who were not part of the top echelon of policymakers. Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. rejected this argument ruling that the actions of the city planner and city manager constituted a violation of RLUIPA. The city will be responsible for a portion of Plaintiff's legal fees.
"Judge Wiseman's ruling confirms that Tennessee is still a place where the rights of the 'Davids' cannot be casually usurped by the "Goliaths" of this world," said Crain.
Layman Lessons provides volunteers opportunity to serve "a couple of hours a week" in local Christian "front line" ministries outside the Church walls, but close enough to be a short drive from home. The very definition of "ministry" is "to serve others as a waiter". Therefore, to have a consistent ministry it must be in the local community to have constant, fast access to the needy.
While less than 1% of Church members can afford the time and money for a "missions trip", normally out of the country, 99% can be involved in "ministry", which is local community service. Both Missions and Ministry provide a revival in the hearts of participants, and a vehicle for God to bless their obedience. Ministry in the local community can be consistent, which provides opportunity for relationship evangelism AND discipling!
Programs and Ministries directly supported by Layman Lessons include:
Homeless Street Ministry…Layman Lessons began with its founder investing "a couple of hours a week" to Feed the Hungry, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, and Make Disciples. The Bible says by doing this we may entertain angels. A Christian Layman immediately realizes they are blessed from their service personally more than the homeless persons they serve. Feeding a hot meal weekly during a Praise and Worship service held outdoors requires volunteers to carry hot meals on serving trays, serve drinks, refill drinks, serve deserts, pick up trash…wonderful training opportunities for entire families with children of any age to serve together. Opportunities abound to just provide a loving, listening ear, then pray with and for homeless people who literally live in terror daily. Love of strangers is a God thing, which impresses homeless people who know very well that all of us have other things to do than volunteer our time to love on them every week. It makes a huge difference to the givers and the receivers. Volunteers use Layman Lessons as a vehicle ministry to help with the constant need to provide:
• Meals ( Street Ministry Miracle Meals)
• Clothing (85% men’s clothing, socks, boxers shorts, coats, hats, gloves, sweats )
Shelter, group housing, Weather protective items (plastic sheeting, bags, paper plates & eating utensils)
• Worship Services (in a open air parking lot weekly draws hundreds of Homeless Repenters to God!)
• Evangelism and Discipleship Tract distribution (personal prayer, sharing)
• Christian books distribution (loan, exchange…and discuss Christian books)
Christian Discipleship Training Centers, the first in Gallatin, TN on almost 4 acres, housed up to 29 former homeless addicts discipled in our New Life Residential Discipleship Training Center. This Center proved itself with over 1,000 homeless men assisted from life on the street into productive Christian lives. Upon completion of New Life and Re-Entry, around 12 months after coming off the streets, our graduates able to work and keep a job will have worked and saved over $5,000 for their "Re-Entry" back into society, as men, free from all bondage, with good jobs, Church support, serving others instead of themselves. Centers are available anywhere in America with local volunteer support. Exchange programs are the goal, where cities 5 hours apart send their former addicts to a rural environment where they have no contacts to get drugs...this is vital for the first 60 days.
Mobile Christian Center (Bus, Motor Home) - Free Food, Clothing, Library, Street Ministry and Discipleship Training Center…hurting, homeless, hopeless can and do read, whatever is available to read (good or bad material) often receiving the spark of hope they need to turn their lives over to God through the written word. Layman Lessons collects used (or new) books and tracts to distribute to those in dire need who cannot afford to purchase books, have no place to store or carry them, but can manage to read one book at a time, then swap for a new book. Volunteers needed to gather and distribute:
LARGER PRINT ONLY - FEW HOMELESS HAVE READING GLASSES!
• Bibles (NIV preferred, or NKJV)
• Gospel Tracts
• Christian Books
• Used Sunday School "Quarterlies" or other used Bible Study materials
• Devotional books, pamphlets, or other materials.
Prison Ministries - From local and county jails to Multi-State Maximum Security ministry "transition programs" to those with less than 2 years to freedom, to transition them into Christian service via training. GED classes, financial responsibility classes, parenting, A & D counseling, securing gainful employment, etc. They need Christian volunteers to help them in dozens of different ways, particularly teaching and mentoring. Former addicts and homeless people are great teachers of hope, which is why our Discipleship Training requires each man to reach out and train the prisoner.
Widows Ministries…the Bible is clear that we are to pay particular attention to widows, assisting them every way we can. Layman Lessons men in the “New Life” Discipleship Training has painted homes, inside and out, hung Christmas tree lights, hauled and spread mulch, cut lawns, trimmed shrubs, weeded flower beds, cleaned out gutters, garages, attics, and storage buildings, moved households completely, patched drywall, repaired light plumbing problems, or hauled away closets full of clothing of newly deceased spouses. We have never charged for any of these acts of love, particularly refusing pay from widows, as God commanded His servants do in His name. We teach students to serve.
Orphans Ministries…training volunteers to be the hands, feet, and heart of the "Father to the Fatherless", by mentoring, befriending, supporting "a couple of hours a week" those without parents. Layman Lessons serves orphans by providing a wide range of services/involvement from "a couple of hours a week" volunteer involvement to Legal Guardian and primary caretaker.