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Michael Patton was just four years old when he first tried to teach theology—while playing on a swing set with a childhood chum. Patton asked the boy if he loved Jesus; the boy said no. When Patton replied, "Then you're going to hell," the boy quickly changed his mind and declared that yes, he did love Jesus after all.

Today, Patton's evangelistic methods are a bit more seasoned and savvy. As founder and president of Credo House Ministries, he has ample opportunity to reach both saints and seekers, primarily through that ubiquitous marketplace of ideas: the local coffeehouse. But not just any java joint. Patton has established what he hopes will be the first of many "theological coffee shops," beginning with the Credo House in Edmond, Oklahoma. The store, built in 2009, seats up to 55 customers and serves up plenty of good coffee, books, teaching, seminars, and lively discussion—much of it led by Patton and executive director Tim Kimberley. (Both have master's degrees in theology from Dallas Seminary.)

Patton calls Credo House a "belief-strengthening events hub" in which clients—ranging from college students to pastors to profs—will find "the walls dripping with theological meaning." He says it is a place "where people can learn, fellowship, study, and just hang out under the banner of truth and grace in Christ."

Question & Answer

What's the idea behind Credo House?

We didn't want to have to ask people to come to a church to have theological discussions; we wanted a more neutral environment, and coffee makes a good bridge for that. We didn't want it to be overtly Christian where you're going to run off the postmoderns and those who hate clichéd Christianity. We wanted a historical element, to put ...

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