Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. E. Paulette Isaac-Savage


Dr. Luke Bobo

Dr. Kathleen Haywood

Dr. Erica Koegler


Human trafficking consists of both sex trafficking (ST) and labor trafficking (LT) and is a growing problem for the United States. The Federal Human Trafficking Report (2019), states that Missouri is ranked ninth in the country for active criminal human trafficking cases. This issue is particularly prevalent in our churches because churches serve vulnerable populations and predators may be drawn to churches. Religious academic literature about pastor advocacy for victims of ST is lacking, while popular news sources reference case after case where pastors are the predators. This study consisted of nine Christian pastors who currently served in a pastoral role. The purpose was to understand how Christian pastors have advocated for victims of ST in their faith communities. The framework of transformational leadership was used to explore advocacy efforts. This qualitative, content analysis revealed seven themes: (1) ST ID; (2) Education; (3) Passion points are indicative of God calling people to act; (4) Umbrella advocacy consisted of indirect, peripheral, and direct pathways; (5) Heart work was built through ecumenical collaborations; (6) Spirit work evokes transformational learning for all; and (7) Protection of the flock addresses advocacy readiness, protection from spiritual woundedness, and inherent dangers which seeks to advocate for vulnerabilities within faith communities. Results indicate that long standing advocacy was present, and that females and males are both active in advocacy efforts although utilizing various roles.