Intriguingly told, Dan. You had my interest from beginning to end. I’m not surprised at the outcome, I must say. I don’t think things would have gone any different at the small village church my uncle pastors here in rural Michigan.
Nobody would have been overtly hostile, but I doubt your young co-conspirator would have learned much of any life-changing consequence.
(They might have been slightly more amused by the sermon. My uncle is at least usually witty, and once in a while very funny.)
But I’m afraid she would have found the same sort of focused questioning that feels insincere.
The church here is a community of like-minded people who share a world view. Part of that view is proselytization and growing the church. (Not that they’re very successful at it.) I don’t think they would recognize the insincerity of their questioning, because from their point of view they are entirely sincere.
Ultimately, however, I think all they really have to offer is community. I don’t think many people are looking for that. They have community already for the most part.
It’s not likely they’d find much more than that in my uncle’s church, which is all too similar to generic Evangelical congratulations around the world.