Sarah McCarten


When I’m writing scared.

wild goslingsHello, apologies for being a little absent of late, I’ve been a bit busy, and also I’ve been a little reluctant to write this post. You see, I’m in a book and I’m ever so slightly nervous about that. For two reasons really, the first is, the book is about working with kids, and although I’m a nanny, I feel terribly out of my depth. The second reason is that I’m terrified of the people I’m writing with there. Continue reading

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When They Said I Don’t Know Jesus – A guest post at Alise… Write

My mother saw him in town; he was giving out tracts about Jesus. She saw him quite frequently, since she did her banking for work on Wednesday lunchtime and he’d been giving out tracts in town at that time for longer than we’d known him. As usual they exchanged pleasantries and when he asked about my sister and me, my mother told him I was to study theology that autumn. He choked, on air, like literally couldn’t stop coughing at the fact that I was to study the bible. When she told him that it was to be at the London School of Theology, a bible college, he asked her if I’d had some kind of a conversion experience. Read more… Continue reading


When I tell what I believed about church.

churchSome time during 2006 I wrote this and then I said it at a talk I gave at the home group I was part of:

‘I don’t want to be part of a church that is renowned for building good venues, or for doing good services. I don’t want the church of my generation to be remembered for the great music we have produced or the talented worship leaders we’ve have.

I don’t want to be part of a church where everyone is lovely and I don’t want to be part of a church where I’m friends with everyone.

The church I want to be part of is in love with and in awe of Jesus.  Where the most important part of everything we do together is whether or not Jesus shows up. A church that is totally sold out for Him, where nothing else matters.  A church that will do anything to connect with their God, even if that means late nights and early mornings everyday, we will do what it takes.  Because the truth is if we seek His Kingdom first, everything else will fall into place.

If we are the church and we do it right, this will become so attractive to people who don’t yet belong to us, that they will want to come in and we will take them in, us connecting with each other and with our God will be our outreach and our mission.

I want to be part of a church that’s raw and that’s real.  A church that is searching for meaning.

I want to be part of real support network where we can call upon each other whenever and wherever we need to.  It’s safe to be honest and vulnerable.  It’s not meant to be fun all the time, but it’s not meant to be hard all the time either. We will see and know the joy that surpasses all understanding, daily.

The church is accountable, and responsible for each other.

The Church I want to be part of is a place where there is an opportunity for collective worship, through song and by other means.

The church I want to be a part of understands that people are different, and that one congregation doesn’t fit all but ultimately we all fit together.

The community in which the church is, is not necessarily the place where they live but the group of people whom they are a part of, that could be the people who they work with or their social group or their family’s, but these are the people who they reach out to.

I want to be part of a church that lives in the reality of the cross.

I want to believe that there is a place for everyone in the church and that if I’m in my right place that when I’m not there I’ll be missed, not in an arrogant way but just in a where’s Sarah, it’s not the same without her, no one can fulfil my role the way I do.  Everyone’s contribution is valid and valuable.  The church aught to be a place where people are changed and where transformations occur – we shouldn’t be the same person who arrived.

We need to make disciples of each other and make ourselves vulnerable enough for others to make disciples of us.

I read it again and I cried a little.

During the time I wrote this the house group I was a part of was working out whether or not to go it alone as a house church. Ultimately, we decided we’d be better off on our own. I left the group about 18 months after it’s formation moving London to study theology and about a year after that the group stopped meeting altogether. I tell you this to give you some of my back-story, not because I think our church failed, but because I think it was brilliant, it was just what a lot of needed for that time.

The reason that I cried was because I was such and idealist young person. I wasn’t satisfied with where I was, for sure, but I had aspirations about where I wanted to be. So often these days I’m cynical but I produce no alternative. I say that things are bad, but that’s just how things are.

I’m not saying that I was right in all the things I wrote, but at least I had purpose; If I wrote it now I’d certainly be more articulate and my theology better.

Someone once said that we should be the change we want to see. I’ve not been that I’ve been that and for that I am sorry.

Thanks so much for reading, it really does mean the world to me, I tweet here, you should take a look I’m pretty entertaining.



When I tell you that I didn’t get out of my car.

IMG_0082I saw her in the rear-view-mirror of my car. I was in a service station about half way between my parents’ home and my home, about a hundred miles from each. I was surprised to see her as she was so far from home. I thought about getting out of the car and saying hello, but I was in a rush and she looked like she was talking to her friend.

I drove out of the service station I felt gutted that I hadn’t made the effort and got out of my car, I could turn back but I was on the motorway and it would have added at least 30 miles and a half an hour to my journey. Besides, I couldn’t even be sure she’d be there on my return. I had plenty of stuff to do when I got back to London and I was sure I’d see her at some or other church thing some or other time.

It played on my mind the rest of the journey. I’d spent so much time with this lady in my teenage years, she’d made such an effort with me, she’d really helped me realise my potential, she was one of the first grown ups to not treat me as though I was weird and I as though I just needed to conform to some evangelical ideology of faith, she’d let me do my thinking for myself. I’d been too lazy to get out of the car and say hello to her.

I visited my parents a couple of months after that and they told me that this lady was sick, she had cancer, but she probably wasn’t going to die, it was curable. I knew that 1 in 3 people in the UK got cancer each year. I didn’t know, and still don’t really, how many people die from it. I went on about my day like nothing had changed, I trusted that the doctors knew what they were talking about, and in my experience, if they’d said someone might die, there was a chance they’d live, if they’d said they’d live, they had. If I’m honest I thought that this lady would probably end up cancer free and she’d have a good Jesus story to tell.

Since no one had mentioned it I’d forgotten that she was I’ll so when I was visiting my parents recently and my mum got a text message it wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. My mum told me that this lady had died.

Actually died, like I’d never see her again, I’d missed my chance; this wouldn’t be a happy Jesus story. It was just crap.

I was angry with the colleague of my mother’s who had text her to let her know. I was angry with myself also, firstly because I’d not gotten out of the car those few months ago but mostly because I had never told her how much her support had meant to me during my formative years.

Now I’ll never get the chance.

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Some thoughts on taking things slowly… in church.

Can I let you into a secret? Sometimes I struggle in church. Okay, it’s not a secret; anyone who’s chatted with me for more than five minutes knows this.* One of my struggles is the call that the church puts on us to act immediately.

I’m all for spontaneity in life, but I wonder if in church we ought to be a little more considered?

My main worry goes like this; we hear a talk and the preacher asks for a response, it might be for those who are called to the mission field, those who are called to be leaders, those called to put out chairs. Whatever it is, if we sense that this call is for us then we are invited to make a response to this (go to the front/raise a hand/tell a friend/pray a prayer…) If you go to a slightly more charismatic church it may be that a person has a prophecy or a word of knowledge or a picture or a dream from God and people are encouraged to respond in the same way.

I believe that these words of knowledge, teachings, dreams, prophecies and pictures are usually from God and are usually right and good.

But they will still be right and good next week.

Let me offer a specific scenario. A word or a preach is given at church about there being people in the congregation who are called to leadership. The preacher asks for those who feel this sense of calling to identify themselves by going to the front. He doesn’t qualify what this calling is for or what the feeling is.

People go to the front. Some people know they are called to be leaders from previous experience, so they go to the front and are prayed for. This is good. Prayer is good.

My concern is for those who just want to be leaders, or just feel a funny feeling and go for prayer. This can be damaging. They may start to feel validated in a calling that is not really their calling. This is detrimental because, if and when they accept that they are not going to be leaders, they may feel like they haven’t fulfilled their calling, that God has let them down, or that they have messed up so badly that they have missed their calling.

There is another group – those who haven’t felt this call before, and genuinely feel it. They are prayed for and their journey toward being a leader continues. This is good. Prayer is good.

So what am I asking? Well, I’m asking if you wouldn’t mind if we took things a bit slower?

I like prayer and I think prayer is helpful and edifying. So I’d ask if we could pray for people who already know their callings. Could we pray for people in general? Could we pray for words and prophecies for individual people? If possible, could we ask people who feel general words and prophecies to consider them and come back for prayer next week or ask a friend to pray for them later?

Thanks for reading guys. It really means a lot to me. I tweet here.

*I also love the church so don’t worry about me.

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The truth will set you free.

This is one of the truths that I’ve grown up believing. I think the specific Bible verse that this is referring to (John 8:32) is talking about knowing the truth of Jesus Christ and how it is that which sets us free. We understand that knowing Him and the lesson He taught will set us free. But, how does knowing the truth and being truthful impact everyday life?

I work as a nanny and I often wonder how much truth to tell the children that I work with. You’re thinking ‘always tell the truth Sarah, what are you talking about?’ aren’t you? Well it’s sometimes a bit more complicated than that!

Think about this:

There is a museum that we sometimes go to. It houses a collection of stuffed animals from the Victorian era. It sounds a bit cruel, I know! It is a bit, but the Victorians didn’t concern themselves with such matters. I went there a few weeks ago. I’ve taken the children there at least a dozen times and they’ve been with their parents lots of times too. We were wandering round a particular gallery and the little girl I nanny said, “Sarah, they’re awfully still aren’t they?” My immediate response, almost without thinking was, “sweetheart, of course they’re still, they’re dead.” She started shouting; “They’re dead? What do you mean they’re dead?”

As it transpires, she was under the impression that it was like a zoo and that the animals wander around at night but stay still in the day so that people can look at them!

Should I have told her the truth? Does it even matter?

Think about this:

I take the little boy I nanny to ‘toddler worship’ at the local Anglican Church. It usually follows the lectionary, so sometimes the stories are a bit odd for the children, but it means that the whole parish is looking at the same thing in the same week, which is a good thing! They adapt the stories for the children a bit. I was there after Christmas and the story that was being told was the story of Jesus turning water into wine (John 2). They told the story to the children and they explained that Mary asked Jesus to help them out with the lack of wine situation. Then they explained that Jesus said. “Of course Mummy, happy to help”, which of course we know is not the exact phrasing that Jesus used!

Should they have told the truth? Does it even matter?

Think about this:

How many times have you heard a Gospel message like the one that Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19)? Or the woman at the well (John 4)? Or even your own story? I know that the Jesus I hear about from the platform is often different to the one that I experience in my own salvation story – It’s less sugar-coated, and I often feel like we’re at risk of conning people. We tell them of an easy life, but in my life and in the lives of my friends I know that this is not true. Following Jesus is complicated and messy, but it’s great! I know that my life is so much more fulfilling than it would be if I didn’t know Jesus, but I also know that it’s harder a lot of the time too.

Should we tell the truth? Does it even matter?

Think about this: At what point is the truth essential?