- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

Christian evangelists 2,000 years ago preached in synagogues and public marketplaces. Tonight, one Christian man will answer questions about faith at a local Starbucks.
Sebastian Traeger, president of Christianity.com and the speaker at "Resolution: Answering Questions of Faith," is inviting the public to the second floor of the Capitol Hill Starbucks to discuss whether following Jesus means the end of freedom or fun.
"If anyone out there feels as though their fun is more important than the greatest relationship they are going to have, they need to come and hear this," Mr. Traeger said.
Mr. Traeger said the discussion will address the biggest roadblock that keeps people from becoming Christians.
"At the end of the day, I think people are going to believe in God," Mr. Traeger said. "But whether their lifestyle is intellectual pride or whether they like to go out and party, people do not want to give that up."
Religious messages are rare in cafe environments. Mr. Traeger hopes Starbucks will be a comfortable place of discussion for both non-Christians or "young Christians who are not living a Christian way of life."
"I understand people are busy, I understand they have a lot going on," he said. "I want to make it easier for them to understand what Christianity is all about."
Mr. Traeger conducted two meetings, co-sponsored by the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, at Starbucks earlier this month.
The first meeting, held Jan. 9, involved a discussion on whether Christians commit intellectual suicide. About 50 young adults who showed up heard Mr. Traeger's firm answer: They do not.
"They are able to have a belief system that is both rationally reasonable and emotionally satisfying," he said.
Nikki Finch, a graduate student at George Washington University, said she attended the first meeting to hear other people's views on Christianity.
"A lot of people believe Christians do not think things through and they do not question," Miss Finch said. "But if you are not allowed to question and find your own answers, what faith do you have?"
The second meeting, held last week with about 40 people in attendance, dealt with the question: "Is Jesus the only way to God?" Mr. Traeger said the topic dealt with the unique claim of Christianity.
"After all, only Jesus can forgive sin, because we believe he was a real person who lived, died and rose again," Mr. Traeger said.
A young Starbucks employee, who served espresso on the first floor and did not want to be identified, said she did not mind the Christian gatherings on the second floor.
"I do not really notice them anyway," she said.
Mr. Traeger's next step will be to hold discussions on local college campuses like Georgetown, George Washington and American universities. He plans to hold another series of discussions at the popular coffee chain in about four months.

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