When I had the joyful privilege to sit down with Autumn Katz on a warm November day in Southern California, we laughed about many potential titles for this article.
One Woman: Church Planter, Worship leader, Singer/Songwriter, CEO or Pastor’s Kid Marries Ex Drug Dealer
It’s amazing and fun to realize that all those statements are true for Autumn, and perhaps the most remarkable part isn’t even on that list. Autumn and her husband/pastor Daniel have four children under the age of 12. Holy Cow!
We wanted to hear all the stories from this remarkably dedicated and gifted woman, in whatever order they tumbled out into our conversation.
How did you land the top job with one of Danielle Strickland’s most influential ministries? How did a pastor’s daughter marry a former drug dealer? How are the kids coming along for the ride? What’s next?
SS: Let’s start with the story behind your first published song?
AK: I wrote the song Sound of Rain many years ago. It was when we were working in Colorado Springs for Lou Engel’s ministry associated with IHOP’s The Call (now called The Send). We were at a rally in South Carolina -- at a prayer gathering in the middle of the night. We were all in this little room praying and fasting, and we were seeking God for our nation. It was like 3:00 in the morning, in one of those sweet times of prayer and I started to play the piano.
The presence of God was so heavy in the room and I heard the chorus in my mind -- "I can hear the sound of rain" -- and suddenly it started raining! It was wild. That’s how I write my songs, they’ll come out of those spontaneous times of worship and reading the bible. Sometimes I’ll write a song while I’m leading worship and piece it all together after words.
SS: It’s a great song! So how did it finally get published?
AK: For a long time I wrestled with that demon of self-promotion. And for many years I was striving to get it recorded and make it happen. I was trying to bang down doors -- and I got to the point of being done. I didn’t want it anymore. I felt called to sing and write, and I wanted to be faithful. But it wasn’t coming together. I still had this heart posture that wanted to self-promote and strive; I wasn’t fully surrendered.
Then I finally came to the place of surrender where l said God, I give this song to you and if it dies, it dies. I detached myself from it. It was at that point that I felt the tap on my shoulder, and I felt Him say, “I want you to record it.” It was very powerful. And suddenly it was about having a conviction about obedience. This is His thing.
So I raised $3,000 and got it produced! Bethel helped master it, I had Hillsong artists help me -- it was amazing! And I knew I was being faithful to the calling.
SS: So here you are in this new church plant with your husband and children. He’s pastor and you’re worship leader. How did that connect with Danielle Strickland’s speakers collective?
AK: Years ago I heard God’s voice and felt Him place a burden on my life. My husband and I were on a date and we were sitting in the car, two weeks before I even met Danielle [Strickland] and there came this point where I heard a voice that I felt called to see the voices of women empowered around the globe. And I sat there in the car and thought. I need to say something. I started weeping and I told my husband that I felt called to see voices unlocked, and help individuals step out in their God-given calling. Two weeks later I met Danielle Strickland and we quickly knew that there was something special, but we didn’t know what yet.
After many months of staying in touch we continued the conversation about women speakers -- where are the women!! Danielle is a powerful speaker, but she found that she was often the token woman speaker at conferences. So we said “let’s start this.” We imagined the Women’s Speakers Collective and set out to create it.
I worked with Bob Goff and went to their Dream Big Framework. I put together a structure and financial model. We started with one boot camp in Long Beach in October of 2018 and it was the awakening of a movement. It’s grown faster than we can keep up with it. We’re booked through 2021!
We help these women create their own brand, define the call on their life, and leave equipped to start their work. We’ve held 5 Bootcamps, fueling about 200 women so far.
The concept is really how to get started as a speaker. We have coaching and workshops on website design, social media profiles. And we address the big elephant of self-promotion.
They leave ready and equipped with their completed profiles, their 5-minute talks on YouTube and a life-long affiliation with Women’s Speaker Collective as support and promotion. We also follow up with 3 months of coaching. We want to see their voices released!
SS: So it’s about their calling. These women are responding to a burden they need to pursue. What’s the hardest thing they face in the process?
AK: What we’re finding with the women’s speakers collective is that when people feel called to something -- whether it’s to write a book, or speak on stages or write songs, or when they close their eyes like I did and they see themselves not in a small room with a small number of people, but I saw myself standing on stage in a stadium with thousands of people -- this is what I saw and this is what I felt. But to get to the point where you embrace that call and embrace that vision… it’s scary.
It’s scary to say “I feel called to impact many people with my life.” I feel called to write not just one book but many books. With the Women’s Speaker Collective, they feel called to speak but they feel they’re afraid to fully embrace it because there’s this fame and self-promotion, and what if money comes from it? And they feel they shouldn’t want those things. We help women see it as different -- it’s not self-promotion. We definitely check our hearts -- but God has called you to say something.
This is a platform He’s given you and when we’re able to really talk about that and get the elephant in the room about self-promotion and really break it down to what is in your heart behind it. If it is just for you to be great and famous, let’s get back to the posture of surrender. If it’s all about Him, then you’d better be posting, you’d better be writing and letting your message out because it’s not about you. It’s obedience to God and the role He’s designed for us.
It’s not about performance, it’s about the voices of women around the globe, stepping into their God-given calling. They’re on this earth for this season, in this time. They have a voice -- this is their time. They have to let it out and let their voice be heard. I want to be the one in the front tearing down every obstacle.
SS: When did you know you wanted to dedicate your life to worship and serving Jesus?
AK: I started writing in a journal when I was 8 years old and I’d write “Jesus I want to know you.” What 8-year-old thinks that way? God gave me this gift of hunger from a young age. And the environment that my parents created was very worshipful. But when I was 12 years old, I had a defining moment where it became mine. A speaker at camp spoke to us about tithing our teenage years to God. He said, “Let’s take 7 years and give them to God in a full-hearted way.”
That idea really struck me and I thought, I don’t know what this looks like, but I’m going to give my teenage years to God. I still don’t know how I understood that, except that it was God’s desire. I was all in -- I gave Him everything. I set aside my teenage years! I said, “I don’t know what this looks like, but I’m in.” And I gave Him everything. I didn’t date, I spent time with Him. I would journal and write and sing. I just wanted to know Him. And He told me who I was to Him.
He solidified in me that this is my calling. I feel like this is what I’m doing for my life -- God spoke to me a lot about Esther: “you’ve been called for such a time as this.” So, I feel so much like this is my life -- to make a way for those who don’t have a voice. Or for those that have the sentence of feeling they won’t be known. I’m standing in the gap for women who don’t feel they have a voice.
I was raised in a traditional home and I wrestle with the thoughts about being a good mom. I’ve had to go through lots of mindsets and prayer and I’m now confident and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This is the way I want to lead my life, and I’m raising my daughter to know that when she’s a mother, she can be leading in other ways too. My own daughter at 5 has a revelation of Jesus.
SS: Ok, let’s get to the other love story. How on earth did a pastor’s daughter marry a former drug dealer?
AK: Daniel was 14 YEARS old making $1,500/week as a drug dealer. When he was 16, steeped in this rough world of buying and selling drugs, he met a man who had been a grunge, heavy metal guy, who went through a huge transformation. He had given his life to Jesus. This man had gone through an inner change, but what my husband saw was the radical physical transformation. Not saying this has to happen, but this man had cut his hair, started wearing glasses -- a total physical transformation.
Then this person started asking questions of Daniel about eternity. “What’s going to happen in the end? Is this it?” “Is this what you want to do with your life?” These questions started to eat away at my husband. Then he started having these crazy dreams and experiences where the Lord was moving toward him in very intentional ways.
One day he was in his room and these questions were haunting him. He said, “God if you’re real, I give you my life.” He says that at that moment, the feeling of a blanket came and wrapped around him. And he felt known for the first time. He felt loved in a way he hadn’t know before. He said the chains and the claws of addiction that were in him, overnight they were instantly gone, where this drive to do drugs every 45 minutes was miraculously gone. That was the moment where everything changed.
Then he found a discipleship school. He had a spiritual mom and dad who walked him through all the s*** - all the hard stuff, all the crazy stuff.. He’d wake up early, depressed and want to stay in his bed. And his spiritual dad would call say “if you don’t get up, I’m coming over to get you and get you to discipleship school.” He was somebody that cared enough to call him out. He went through Plumbline and Healing Stream and all these programs to take care of his issues and now he’s pastoring a church and giving his life to see others come to know Christ!
Our church now has a mix of people who’ve come of the street as well as people who have been in the church for a long time. And to be able to see different perspectives and understand people’s lives. I love his perspective because he wasn’t raised in the church like I was and he walks into some traditional churches and asks a lot of questions! He’s real, raw, gospel, discipleship. He said when he gave his life to Jesus it would crave his bible. He would literally open his bible and read it and it would come alive.
Since then he’s gone on and received a Master’s degree in Theology and he’s become obsessed with theology.
SS: That is such a great story and you’re quite a pair to be changing the world through your church and ministries. How do the kids get engaged in all the work?
AK: We have four kids. And I get the question a lot about how do we do it all. We’re nurturing this church, raising kids, managing the speaker collective, writing songs, and it’s happening. We are in this beautiful juggle and we’re intentional about the balance. We don’t sit and watch Netflix, for sure. There’s a lot of intentionality about how I live my life -- but it’s resulting in me knowing that I’m faithful to what God’s called me to in this season. And we’re bringing the kids along with it! When we planted Anthem Church, my kids owned it. My five-year-old Canon David walked up early in the morning with a pen and paper and said, “Mom are you ready for a church planting meeting?”
This is our dream as a family. As I’m traveling and speaking leading this movement, I am bringing them along with me. So I’m able to say ‘This is what’s happening -- voices are being empowered around the globe and this includes yours.’
About Autumn Katz
As CEO of Women Speakers Collective, Divisional Director at Stonecroft and Church Planter/Co-Lead Pastor of Anthem Church in Long Beach, Autumn believes that there is no greater joy than seeing others inspired to live a big life full of purpose and passion. She is passionate about the topics of Leadership, Family and Marriage, Church Planting, Empowerment of Women, and Disciple Making in your local context.
In addition to raising four kids and church planting/pastoring with her husband Daniel Katz, Autumn held the title of Mrs. Long Beach and became a community activist to see women empowered locally and nationally. She has joined her efforts with Danielle Strickland as a speaker and the CEO of Women Speakers Collective; an organization designed to help aspiring speakers develop their voice and provide them with the opportunity to speak.
As a singer-songwriter, Autumn released her first single “Sound of Rain” in 2016. She has led worship in stadium gatherings all across the nation.
Autumn is a national speaker, CEO, church planter/pastor, and a singer-songwriter who lives to inspire this generation to dream God-sized dreams and see them happen.