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F.F. Bosworth’s Letter to Alpha E. Humbard

What it Suggests About His Business Acumen

By Roscoe Barnes III

Author, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind Christ the Healer

Copyright (c) 2018

#FFBosworth

Note: This is a snippet of research drawn from my doctoral thesis on the life history of F.F. Bosworth, Pentecostal pioneer and author of Christ the Healer. The research examined his life using Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT). It focused on his development as a famous healing evangelist. (See F. F. Bosworth: A Historical Analysis of the Influential Factors in His Life and Ministry (University of Pretoria, Date: 2010-07-30; website: https://repository.up.ac.za/handle/2263/26869).

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In my doctoral thesis on F.F. Bosworth, I argued that his secular experiences in business were linked to his work as a preacher. I showed how his work as a traveling salesman in his youth was similar to his work as a traveling evangelist. Before he entered the ministry, he held a number of secular jobs that seemed to parallel his later work as an evangelist.

When he lived in Fitzgerald, Ga., he worked as a barber, city clerk and postmaster. He campaigned for an elected position and he traveled whenever necessary as a musician. I contend that the secular experiences of his youth were foundational to his development as a famous healing evangelist. Those early experiences, particularly in the area of business and marketing, were influential factors in his growth as a traveling minister.

While there is a plethora of material that shows his penchant for various jobs, including his knack for selling, there are certain documents, like the letter below, that provide clear insight into his thinking as a businessman and spiritual leader. Bosworth wrote the letter in 1922. It was addressed to Alpha E. Humbard, father of Evangelist Rex Humbard (1919-2007). The letter is short and simple. Yet, it shows, among other things, Bosworth’s marketing prowess as a healing evangelist. It was published in Word and Witness:

Dear Brother Humbard:

Your good letter received. I don’t have a minute to write for any paper. I enclose herewith a dodger announcing our meetings.

We could not seat our first audience in the Midway Tabernacle seating 2,000. Sunday night we had the service in the Minneapolis Auditorium, and when we sang our first song at 7:30 there were one thousand people standing on the street, trying to get in, but had to be refused on account of the fire ordinance. Next Sunday afternoon and night we hold the meetings in the St. Paul Auditorium, seating about eight or nine thousand. May possible spend the entire last week here.

Your Brother in Christ,

F.F. Bosworth (Bosworth 1922:3)

The letter, though brief, indicates a number of important points about Bosworth’s development. First, it shows how he kept his name and ministry in the news. Prior to this, he had published scores of letters and articles in various newspapers and magazines. In this same issue of Word and Witness, his article, “Do All Speak in Tongues?,” is featured on the front page, along with another article about his meetings in Lima, Ohio.

 

Second, the letter indicates his recognition in the ministry and writing opportunities. The editor had apparently invited him to write articles for the paper. Third, the letter shows his penchant for self-promotion, a skill from his background as a businessman. Instead of accepting the invitation to write for the paper, he used the invitation as an opportunity to promote his meetings in Minneapolis, Minn.

 

Fourth, as was typical in his experiences, the letter shows how his meetings continued to grow in attendance. Fifth, the letter gives insight into his networking abilities. Since his time in Zion City, Ill. and in Dallas, Texas, he consistently worked with editors, reporters, publishers and other people who could help his ministry in some way. Alpha Humbard was the editor of Word and Witness. He established an organization that issued credentials to more than 250 preachers (Rodgers 2008:57-61). He was one of a long list of reputable church leaders with whom Bosworth associated. Their relationship, undoubtedly, was beneficial to both of them.

 

Bosworth, who died in 1958, had a long and fruitful ministry. Throughout his career, he used tracts, newspapers, magazines, books, tabernacles, open fields, and radio to reach people with the gospel. While he was first and foremost an evangelist, he thought and acted as a professional businessman in the strategic operations of his ministry. Such was true in both his early years and his later years when he served as a mentor to the young evangelists of the 1940s and 1950s. A broader study of his promotional materials would provide more insight into his ministry development and some of the technical aspects -- and strategies -- behind his successful citywide campaigns. Such a study might show how the merging of the secular and the spiritual – business and ministry -- can be adapted in a contemporary ministry context.

 

For additional information on Alpha E. Humbard, see Darrin J. Rodgers’ review of The Soul-Winning Century by Rex Humbard: https://ifphc.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/rex-humbard-biography

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about F.F. Bosworth?

Visit the F.F. Bosworth page here!

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For more information: Visit ffbosworth.strikingly.com. Questions about the research and commentary on F.F. Bosworth may be directed to Roscoe Barnes III via email at doctorbarnes3@gmail.com or roscoebarnes3@yahoo.com. For updates on F.F. Bosworth history, simply follow this blog or @Roscoebarnes3 on Twitter. #ChristTheHealer

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