Students at commencement

Meet the Faculty

Terri L. Elton

Terri L. Elton

Associate Professor of Leadership


Terri Martinson Elton began teaching at Luther Seminary as an adjunct instructor in 2004 before becoming the director of the Center for Children, Youth and Family Ministry in 2008. In addition to her continued work with the Center, Elton accepted the position of associate professor of Children, Youth and Family Ministry in 2010 and associate professor of Leadership in 2014.

Prior to her call to Luther Seminary, Elton served as an associate to the bishop in the Saint Paul Area Synod where her responsibilities included working with congregations, leadership development, First Call theological education and youth and family ministry.

Before her work in the synod, she served at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, Minn. for 16 years. While at Prince of Peace she worked in various roles within children, youth and family ministries, as well as served as the director of Changing Church Forum, an outreach ministry of Prince of Peace.  She also authored To Know, To Live, To Grow, a confirmation curriculum, and co-authored What Really Matters, a book for congregational leaders, with the Rev. Mike Foss.

Elton holds a B.A. degree in communications from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. (1986). She earned both her M.A. (1998) and Ph.D. (2007) degrees in Congregational Mission and Leadership from Luther Seminary.

Elton's research and teaching interests include: congregational leadership, leading in the midst of change and conflict, helping ministry leaders craft a missional ecclesiology with an eye toward the First Third of Life, awakening a vibrant theology of baptism and vocation and reimagining faith and mission practices for children, youth, young adults and their families.

Elton is a member of the Academy of Religious Leadership, the Association of Youth Ministry Educators, the ELCA Youth Ministry Network and the American Society of Missiology and is on the board for Real Resources. Elton spends much of her time working with congregations and congregational leaders and seeks out opportunities for enhancing ministry with those in the First Third of Life within the ELCA.


EL 4548 01PROACTIVE MINISTRY IN MEDIA CULTURESpring Semester 2015-2016

This course explores myriad challenges raised by media cultures for communities of faith. Questions of digital presence, communicative practices in digital cultures, constructive theological approaches to digital divides and other issues of justice, and positive use of diverse media in worship and mission are engaged.

LD 0530 50MISSIONAL LDRSP IN PROF SET-ONLINE Spring Semester 2015-2016

This course serves as a final capstone course for the three MA degrees in the Leadership Division. Students will demonstrate their ability to integrate theology, theory and practice in the creation and defense of a capstone project centered on a current issue in their concentration area. Capstone projects might include a practical ministry project or an article for publication. In addition students will reflect on themselves as professional Christian leaders in light of their program learning, and prepare professional development plans for their first two years after the program. Prerequisite: LD0515 - Professional Vocation in Christian Leadership


This course focuses on church organization, polity, and missional leadership. It explores theological and theoretical definitions of leadership, cultivating congregational identity and vision, gifts discernment in the body of Christ, leading teams, overseeing finances and facilities, leading change, addressing conflict, and creating a culture of leadership multiplication. Students engage in self-reflection on their own gifts and ongoing leadership development.

CL 4525 50 F6THEO LDRSHP ADDRESS CHANGE AND CONFFall Semester 2015-2016

A course that helps students develop a framework for engaging and addressing organizational change and conflict within congregations. Biblical and theological resources will be put into conversation with organizational theory literature and the behavioral sciences in an effort to clarify the leader’s role in leading change processes and developing effective strategies in addressing church conflict.

SG 0405 01LEADING CHRISTIAN COMM IN MISSION Fall Semester 2015-2016

This course introduces students to the complex realities of forming and leading Christian communities in a pluralist era. Students engage biblical and theological traditions for understanding the triune God's mission in the world and how this shapes the church's missional identity and leadership. Insights from sociology help students interpret persons and communities similar to and different from them for the sake of witness and service. Through attending carefully to specific Christian communities and their contexts, students develop imagination, practices, habits, and skills for faithful and innovative public leadership. This course has a significant contextual component. Contact instructor for details.


Both post-modern secular culture and the growth of global Christianity have contributed to a renewal of historic patterns of catechesis (early-church and reformation) leading to the rites of initiation. Additionally, there has been renewal of various related rites of affirmation at particular stages of life including a common teenage affirmation of baptism ritual commonly titled “confirmation.” The course considers the importance of developing congregational apprenticeship processes for incorporation of those new to the community of faith and those renewing such incorporation into Christ. Specific focus will be placed on congregational practice, and attention paid to differences in theology of and ritual and catechetical processes for infants, youth, and adult baptism, as well as such rites for adults at various life-stages. This course includes assignments in context; students without contextual placements should register for FE0521-FE0525 Christian Public Leader according to their degree program.


Independent study/guided reading in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. This course is to go along with the Rethinking Confirmation Event happening on campus.

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