Acts 17 has long been appealed to as a pattern for the way in which Christians ought to engage unbelieving culture—Paul's appeal to "your own poets" and reference to their monument to the "unknown God" particularly.
Russell D. Moore's Retaking Mars Hill in September's Touchstone addresses what really happened that day in Athens (it's high time somebody did) and challenges much of the evangelical and emergent silliness perpetrated in the name of reaching the world. We are, it seems, either aping pop culture to be more attractive or embracing pop culture to be more authentic. The Apostle, on closer examination, attempted and cared for neither. Just one of many insights here:
Often at the root of so much Christian “engagement” with pop culture lies an embarrassment about the oddity of the gospel. Even Christians feel that other people won’t resonate with this strange biblical world of talking snakes, parting seas, floating axe-heads, virgin conceptions, and emptied graves. It is easier to meet them “where they’re at,” by putting in a Gospel According to Andy Griffith DVD (for the less hip among us) or by growing a soul-patch and quoting Coldplay at the fair-trade coffeehouse (for the more hip among us).
Knowing Andy Griffith episodes or Coldplay lyrics might be important avenues for talking about kingdom matters, but let’s not kid ourselves. We connect with sinners in the same way Christians always have: by telling an awfully freakish-sounding story about a man who was dead, and isn’t anymore, but whom we’ll all meet face-to-face in judgment.
His observations of contemporary Christian music are especially painful—and accurate.
And I've only just gotten started on my soul-patch.