The Christian gospel is perceived in as many different ways as there are different people who hear it. There are, however, certain general categories, and I will share a few that I have noticed.
Some people receive the gospel the first time they hear it, and live transformed lives ever after. Others accept it, and may say a prayer or make a decision to follow Christ, but don’t really change much; their faith is not evident in their works. Some are indifferent to the gospel, and are OK with those who accept it, but are uncomfortable with fully embracing it themselves. Still others reject the gospel all together, perhaps holding to some other religion, and some go as far as to actively attack it and anyone who holds to it.
From what I can tell, and certainly within the social groups I am in contact with, the vast majority fall into the middle two categories. I am witness to a sickeningly huge number of people who proclaim a faith in Christ but lead mediocre, complacent lives. (I do not say this without recognizing my own tendency to this fault, which is perhaps why I feel such a burden for those who are in that category without realizing it.) I also see many who do not profess Christianity, while not completely rejecting it. Unintentional agnosticism often results from simply “not thinking about it”.
Everyone has their own reasons or excuses for rejecting Christianity. I have a friend who hung out with some of my church friends and I, and attended youth group regularly, but found his intellect getting in the way of developing a faith of his own. One of his issues was his perception that if God forgives sin, it doesn’t matter how one lives, because “at the end of the day, you’ll be forgiven.” (After many discussions he has recently come around, and it’s awesome to see his faith changing him as a person.)
Some people reject Christianity because of what they know about Christians. The people I have the shortest temper and patience with are those who misrepresent Christianity. Christians have acquired a distasteful stereotype (media being a definite catalyst) that has varied over the generations. Of course, stereotypes arise out of truth, and a lot results from the ultra-legalism that peaked some years ago. Proclaiming Christians who act self-righteous or who have a completely un-rationalized or non-biblical faith are a certain hindrance to the gospel.
Christians need to strive for a Christ-like stereotype by being loving, accepting (of people, but not of sin) and zealous. Such a reputation need not be appealing to non-believers, but it ought to at least be an accurate one! In fact, one of the greatest downfalls of modern evangelism techniques is the attempt to create a gospel that is attractive to the world. We should of course avoid being offensive or unsocial whenever possible, but never at the expense of watering down or bedazzling the gospel. Unfortunately, politically correct is often biblically incorrect.