I've heard it said that these days, our beloved country is becoming a bit consumeristic. Pastors preach about this all the time - don't buy into the material world, all the stuff in the world won't make you happy, yadda yadda yadda. Which is not to say that it's not true - they're right, material posessions won't do squat for you - but I'm a bit worried about the pastors saying these things.
As it turns out, the church in America has adopted this materialistic view. That's right - materialism and consumerism is a huge part of Christian culture. I ran across a tract once that said "Why Christianity is Right for YOU". I thought it was funny - because at the time, I was a scientist, and so I figured everything should try to tell me why it was wrong for me, and if I couldn't find enough reasons for it to be wrong, it must be right.
Looking back, though, I think wow, it's still funny, but less of a "haha" kind of way and more of a "I'm really freaked out now" kind of funny. It's a representation of the church at large - we spent a lot of time in propeganda for our little ghetto of Christianity hoping that people will say "ah, of course, they have everything I've always wanted in a religion" and convert.
It used to be different, back in the day (circa 100 AD). It used to be that we would say "this is why you shouldn't join Christianity" and show people how hard it is to be a Christian, and how persecution sucks, and how it is that helping people is really hard on a body and why it goes against everything everyone else is saying and why that's hard. And yet the movement around Jesus grew.
Now all we do is say why Christians are hip and cool and rad and all that jazz. We talk about why people should like us because we're "really not that different" from you (true) and why they should accept us because "deep down, we're all the same". Some true things can be mixed together to sound like something else true, but it's really false - like Christians, frankly, are not all that. We're convicted sinners that know it - not cool, because it's not really great for peace of mind. We're in danger of stoning - Stephen got stoned (not the fun kind, apparently), Paul got stoned once, beaten, the forty lashings minus one a bunch of times, and lots of other brutal things. Christians have been ostricized from their countries, they've been alienated by family members simply because they believed, and yet, for some reason, they continue to proclaim what they know is the truth - Jesus has risen, and He is God.
I'm not trying to say "we should do it like it was done back then" because frankly, we're in a new age. We've entered postmodernism, we've done away with the patristic and medieval and modern periods - we're surrounded by new, unique, DIFFERENT individuals. Those people are all unique creations of God - to be treated as such. They deserve to hear the truth, not some sales pitch that we're using to make ourselves feel better (you know, the "oh I've converted TWELVE pagans today, how many did YOU get?").
Oh yeah - and Jesus isn't a good to be sold. He's a God - and a man - and I would imagine He doesn't appreciate being made into a sales pitch, but usually appreciates it when someone is really saying to another "I really, honestly believe that He'll change your life - and through you, change others - why not ask Him?"
This isn't about selling a product - it's about changing the world.