As of late there have been several comments on an older post, on the topic of selling the Gospel. I would like to address some of the issues that they have brought up, as well as do an overview on the topic of Selling the Gospel.
Many people look at both Church and Para-Church ministries and scoff at there selling of products such as, books, CD's, Dvd's, ect. However, I think that these Scoffers are somewhat misguided in there understanding of how these ministries work and perhaps how the real world works.
Let me Start of with Scripture - Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Timothy 5:17-18 ESV) - This is the basis for paid ministry within the Church, however, I think that it also tells us a bit more than just, paid ministry should exist. It also tells us that Elders (pastors) who rule well should receive double honor, many believe this refers to wage. So I would ask, How many of us Give more when we see a Hard Working Pastor? I would say not many people that I know do this. I think that Most Churches scrimp and save, just to make it now days, there are pastors who cut there pay, some who go without pay, simply because Members do not give enough.
That said I would like to address the selling of Hard Media - I would say that anything that you can put your hands on, ala books, CD's and Dvd's can and should be sold, these materials do cost money, and there was a lot of hard work put into them. There is also normally a cost to produce them, and while may people expect the church to absorb that cost, their giving does not allow the church/ministry to do that. This is really simple, Churches when they sell these types of materials are not selling the gospel, they are selling teaching materials.
Soft Media - I would define this as anything that is digital. This is something that is downloaded ie essays, sermons, ect.. These are materials that can be put on Hard Media, but as soft media, they should be given away. I believe that most ministries do give this type of media away for free.
Selling the Gospel -- I would say that selling media is far different then selling the Gospel. The Gospel is the message found in Scripture about Jesus' death, Burial and resurrection. Selling the Gospel, would be things like monetary requirements for coming to Church, Mormons do this with their members. I believe that selling the gospel is not something that your average Christian Church does. I don't believe that it is a very common thing in American churches. That said, I welcome examples of where people believe this is happening.