About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.

The Making of Zombie Theologians: Catechesis, Spiritual Direction, and the Future of the Church


Over the years catechesis acquired a bad reputation. There were a number of reasons for this state of affairs.One was the traditional format that was used to teach the Christian faith. Catechesis became inextricably attached to an aging format that consisted of leading questions and brief answers that were committed to memory. As such, teaching the Christian faith was associated with pat answers, simplistic truths, and a dictatorial approach to transmitting the Christian faith.In an age … [Read more...]

3 Things Francis Taught Us Today about Politics


The address that Pope Francis gave this morning before Congress was holistic and pro-life.  He spoke to the needs of the poor, the dreams of the common man and woman, the preservation of the creation, the devastating impact of violence, the danger of fundamentalism, the fragile nature of the modern family, the death penalty, and the need to protect the unborn.  He pointed us to the contemplative, Thomas Merton, and the activist, Dorothy Day.  He spoke to the example of Martin Luther King.  In sho … [Read more...]

The One Reason a Global Church Matters


Earlier this week The Guardian declared, “Justin Welby’s plan to split the Anglican Church tells us a lot about religion and politics.”  As English Bishop Nick Baines observed, the headline also told us a lot about the journalistic talent of some of the folks at The Guardian.  Baines tweeted, "Can't they read?" Evidently not. Clearly, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not trying to split the Anglican Communion by calling for a global meeting of the church’s leaders.  What he is trying to do, I s … [Read more...]

From Beneficiary to Benefactor: Turning the Corner in the Third Generation

Last week’s blog was devoted to a question for leaders: “Are you a founder, an inheritor, or a beneficiary?”Based on some reading that I did some years ago in The Harvard Business Review, I suggested many enterprises (religious enterprises included) fail in the third generation, because their leaders treat the institutions and organizations that have been entrusted to their care as an entitlement. What are the characteristics of a third generation leader who avoids that temptation and becom … [Read more...]

Are you a founder, an inheritor, or a beneficiary?


Some years ago The Harvard Business Review reported that 97% of all family-run businesses fail by the third generation.  The article theorized that the reason for this rate of failure can be traced to the generational changes that take place in the lifespan of those businesses.I no longer recall exactly how the article framed the analysis, but my memory of it and my version of the argument goes something like this:The founding generation has the vision for a family business.  It makes t … [Read more...]

Nine Ways Your Pastor Can Help You Plan for a Funeral


In recent years churches have made a greater effort to prepare members of their congregations for death.  But much of that conversation is still squarely focused on advanced directives and clergy often delegate that responsibility to people who know more about the attendant legal complexities.  That, no doubt, is an appropriate choice.Churches and clergy pay less attention to the funeral arrangements themselves.  Having been through that process with members of our family and with pa … [Read more...]

Seven Things the Holy Spirit Might Be Trying to Tell You


For many of us it can be hard to believe that the Holy Spirit speaks in a way that is real or helpful.That struggle can be traced to a number of factors: We live in a culture that doesn’t expect God to “show up.”  When we do talk about the work of the Holy Spirit, we use rarified, impenetrable, stained-glass language.  And most of what we expect to hear in listening to the Spirit is couched in such pious jargon that we find it hard to believe that any of it applies directly to us.I’ve com … [Read more...]

12 Questions Leaders Need to Ask Themselves


Religious leaders cannot control what everyone in their circle chooses to do.  That kind of control has never been possible and the challenge is even greater today.The hallmark of contemporary life is the flight from accountability.  Rugged individualism has become petulant self-indulgence, hiding behind the guise of "my rights."  The priesthood of all believers has degenerated into “every person a god,” “each person's private convictions a religion.”But we can shape the ecclesiastical cu … [Read more...]