• Ron Gladden



Place a high-energy kid in front of a spinning merry-go-round, and you know what he is thinking: That looks like fun! When is a good time to make the leap?

Like pretty much every pastor on God’s green earth, Mike Larson faced a merry-go-round moment. “I’ve been watching Mission Catalyst for years, and I have followed Epikos’s story from the beginning. I was fascinated by Sam McKee’s decision to leave a successful church and leap into an experiment called Epikos Church. When I read his interview with Adventist Today, the wheels started to turn. I could sense something happening in my heart.”

Mike and Daniela pastored in three districts over ten years and absolutely loved the people they served. Their hearts burned with passion for the mission. “We found success in using our gifts for the kingdom,” Mike declares, “but we lacked the freedom necessary to truly lead a church in the direction God was calling.” The Larsons have two beautiful boys: Matthew, age 6 (a tender heart and a joy for life), and Zach, age 3 (full of mischief, laughter, and adventure). They were fully aware that deciding to make the leap would have far-reaching consequences on their ministry pathway, their family, and on a plethora of people who desperately longed for more of God.

They prayed. They talked with people they trust. They wrestled with a long list of what-ifs. Last September, they hopped on a Southwest flight and visited Epikos Church in Vancouver. They discovered a lot of people who recently found Jesus, and they experienced what happens when sold-out Christ followers join together to create a healthy, unselfish, growing church.

Mike describes his visit to Vancouver this way: “When we visited Epikos, we were so impressed with how the values of MC had taken root to create a loving church culture led by a healthy and diverse team. We narrowed our options to these:

  1. Continue being frustrated (try to convince ourselves that limited success was acceptable).

  2. Resign and spend our lives designing happy meal toys (give up on vocational ministry and find our niche in the ministry and find our niche in the marketplace).

  3. Leap on the merry-go-round.

“We decided to leap.”

The conversation morphed in a direction no one expected. Instead of starting a church in Kansas City or some other place, what if the Larsons joined the staff at Epikos Church? What if Mike unleashed his preaching gifts and leadership while Daniela used her gifts of teaching, organizing, and training?

Our staff at the church talked extensively with references, Mike returned to Vancouver to preach and spend more time with the staff, and on November 17, we mutually agreed that Mike will join the Epikos team as a full-time pastor sometime in January.

“We have dreamed so long of being part of a vibrant church community where we can have complete freedom to follow the Spirit’s lead. We are willing to do anything to be a part of it.”

You couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces if you tried. We pray often for God to send ten-talent leaders who have the courage to follow their convictions, and we are grateful for another answered prayer.

So here is a question: What is your merry-go-round moment? Perhaps God is calling you to show some courage and start a church that reaches far-from-God people. Maybe He wants you to make a donation that changes the game for Mission Catalyst.

We don’t know exactly how God is leading you, but we know that the merry-go-round is spinning. And it’s time to take the leap!

P.S. We are delighted that every gift of $100 or more to Mission Catalyst is doubled until the end of the year. If you are in a position to make a generous donation, we are especially thankful!



  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle


PO Box 873520
Vancouver WA 98687