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TalkSBC launches social network platform


Joel Southerland

Joel Southerland, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, has developed a social networking plan to help Baptists communicate their thoughts on the changes being proposed by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.

Following is the transcrpit of that interview with the North Georgia pastor.


Index: I understand you are launching a plan to use the Internet to give Baptists the opportunity to communicate about some of the things happening in our convention. What are you planning to do to accomplish that objective?

Southerland: We are embarking on a national venture called TalkSBC which will cover the Task Force proposal and the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando. My desire is to stimulate conversation among rank-and-file Baptists concerning the changes that will be proposed.

But, we will cover more than just the GCR Task Force recommendations. We will cover and report on things leading up to the Convention as well as such events as Crossover Orlando, the COSBE (Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists) retreat, the Pastors’ Conference, and anything else pertinent to the life and work of Southern Baptists.


Index: How will you communicate these things to your followers?

Southerland: We will use Twitter (, a Facebook Fan Page (, Youtube (, Ustream ( and a website/blog ( We are even working on an iPhone application.


Index: Will you provide a live stream of what is going on at the convention in Orlando?

Southerland: No but we do plan to cover the commentary surrounding the live feed.


Index: How did the idea for TalkSBC originate?

Southerland: Dr. [Mike] Williams called and asked me if I would be interested in doing a Facebook page for the GBC relative to the Convention and the work of the GCR Task Force. I suggested we do something totally different and more thorough. We discussed how social media affected the coverage of the Olympics and after our meeting this project was birthed. Dr. Williams had the original idea, but I developed the idea into what we have today.


Index: Do you have anyone else helping you launch TalkSBC?

Southerland: I am the point man and will be serving as the “host” of TalkSBC. I can ask any question and make any comment I want to make.

The GBC is providing technical, administrative, audio/visual, and logistical support for the project. You might say it is a collaborative partnership between the GBC and me.


Index: What do you hope to accomplish through this effort?

Southerland: We want to be the “clearing house” for all topics and discussions leading up to and during the Convention. We want to solicit questions and ideas abut what to discuss and get suggestions from our audience about those individuals we should interview.

We will also provide information for those who are not able to attend and commentary about what is happening for those who in attendance.

Index: Will you deal specifically with the GCR Task Force Report and the deliberations about the Cooperative Program?

Southerland: We are going to talk about the Task Force report and the CP a lot. We will get opinions and commentary from all kinds of people. As much as possible we will present every side of every issue.


Index: How many people will you need to get involved in order for this to be successful?

Southerland: We would love to see millions of Southern Baptists involved, but there are over 3,500 Georgia Baptist churches and we believe we can involve thousands in this social networking project. However, we want to extend beyond Georgia.We hope the entire SBC nation will be tuning in to our Internet sites.


Index: Has the GBC leadership signed on to this project?

Southerland: Dr. White is on board. He had to give his approval since we are using so many resources of the GBC. He is excited about what we are doing. It will be groundbreaking coverage of the SBC. He is excited that the GBC is taking the lead and the initiative in some that is so innovative.


Index: Bryant Wright, Ted Traylor, Ken Whitten, Hayes Wicker, and Al Mohler have been mentioned as possible presidential candidates. Will TalkSBC endorse one of these or urge someone else to be nominated?

Southerland: TalkSBC will not endorse any candidate, but we will cover every candidate and ask some hard questions.


Index: Why do you think this effort is necessary?

Southerland: I am busy with a growing church, however, the GBC and SBC are dear to my heart. I don’t feel like the rank-and-file pastors or laity are as involved as they should be. This will be a place where they can get their questions answered and get the information they need.

We want to become that place. I was motivated to lead this effort because of my love for the SBC and my interest in social media and marketing. It was a natural fit for me.


Index: Will this platform cease after the Convention or do you see this as an ongoing project?

Southerland: That has not been decided yet. I would love to see it as an ongoing project, but the success of the effort will determine its future.