The following appendices offer examples of how to do Mars Hill ministry in today’s cultural context. They put “meat” on the bones of the Mars Hill ministry paradigm. Because a great deal of my time is spent walking through the “Athens” of today’s popular music, I have chosen to include examples that represent a diversity of musical genres. Appendix One will take you on a walk through the Athens of the music of the Dave Matthews Band. Matthews and his bandmates are perhaps the most enduring band on the contemporary pop culture scene. This group of older musicians plays a unique, eclectic, and lyrically-deep style of music that has a cross-generational appeal, with the largest segment of their audience being college students. Chris Carrabba’s Dashboard Confessional and their unique brand of emo-punk is the subject of Appendix Two. This emotionally charged music is especially popular among adolescent girls. The urban hip-hop flavored music of Outkast is examined in Appendix Three. This created Atlanta-based duo offers a great example of rap music’s rise into the mainstream culture. Finally, Appendix Four will lead you through the Athens of young Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne.
Each of these appendices will follow the steps outlined in the last chapter for employing Paul’s Mars Hill ministry paradigm in our current postmodern culture. You will notice that in each case I have taken an in-depth approach by examining the entire catalog of the artist’s music as it existed at the time I originally conducted the research. My purpose in giving attention to detail is to show how that which we might easily overlook on our walk through Athens might, in fact, be very helpful. In addition, I’ve endeavored in these appendices to leave no stone unturned in steps one and two of the Mars Hill ministry paradigm so that readers might benefit from examples that are comprehensive. Still, I am cognizant of the fact that in steps three to seven of each of these examples I have certainly not come close to exhausting all the possibilities. In addition, you will notice on several points the various steps could actually overlap. For example, I may have included cultural elements that should be challenged and opposed in Step 7 as an issue to address in our particular ministry setting. As you read, I fully expect you to notice “touchpoints,” evidence of a spiritual quest, elements that must be addressed, and ministry uses that I have failed to mention. For example, in Step 3 you will see that I’ve included lyrical quotes and lyrical themes. As you read through this step, you might find phrases that could be used in one or more of the following four steps. As you engage in this process of cultural exegesis you will surprised by the richness, depth, and ministry value you may have previously overlooked.
I fully realize that most readers don’t have the time to conduct in-depth research of this type on a regular basis. It’s likely that your walk through the Athens of their world might focus on the text of one particular person, place, song, music video, film, television episode, etc. My hope is that as you read these lengthy examples you might glean practical insight into what to look for as you walk, thereby making your walk through today’s postmodern culture more fruitful as it becomes a second-nature activity you engage in constantly.
Time and space do not allow me to focus on the world of film, television, books, etc. Still, these are valuable elements in the postmodern cultural soup that must be examined. The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding website (www.cpyu.org) offers a growing number of resources addressing these and other cultural elements. In addition, the links page found on www.cpyu.org will direct you to other thoughtful sites that provide models for your walk through the Athens of these elements. Particularly helpful and worthy of mention here are Dick Staub’s Culture Watch (www.dickstaub.com), Denis Haack’s Ransom Fellowship (www.ransomfellowship.org), Mark Joseph’s Faith ‘N’ Film (www.faithnfilm.com), screenwriter Brian Godawa’s personal site (www.godawa.com), and Hollywood Jesus (www.hollywoodjesus.com). The CPYU site (www.cpyu.org) links to dozens of sites that provide primary and secondary information on contemporary culture that will assist you in your task of cultural exegesis.