In a world that’s filled with .coms and .orgs, a new option has opened up for all kinds of organizations and businesses, and churches are no exception. There are a lot of great reasons for churches to grab their .church domain name, and a lot of churches are actually seeing some really great success (since 2014) because they have already done it. They’ve also steered clear of a lot of potential problems that come with not collecting as many TLDs as they possibly can.
What is a TLD?
A TLD is those letters after the dot in your domain name. Perhaps your church has a domain name that is currently a .com or a .org. It’s possible that you even had to settle for one or the other, because the one you preferred was already taken by a church with a similar name. This is relatively common in the United States. Changes to domain names rules have opened up a lot of new possibilities and now you have the option of choosing .church as a part of your domain name, which is actually a very smart marketing move for a lot of reasons.
.church is a generic top-level domain (gTLD) in the Domain Name System of the Internet. It comes from the common name church and is used by churches, congregations, ministries of religion, and entities who deal with them. The church domain was entered into the DNS root on May 15, 2014 [wiki]
Reasons to Choose .Church for Your Domain Name
If you think about it, people rarely type in website URLs the way they once did. Most of the time, they’re accessing websites through links in their email or by clicking on links on social media sites. Choosing a .church TLD for your domain name brands your church in the minds of those who would be accessing your site. It’s a modern approach that more and more churches are starting to embrace. In fact, you’ll gain more online traction if you grab as many appropriate TLDs as you possibly can for your domain name. Many churches have the .com and .org, and they discovered that adding .church has given them increased visibility and more visitors to their websites.
Your church brand is very important. Perhaps, when you think of the word brand, you think of your church logo or the graphics on your church’s website. Your brand is actually a combination of these, but it includes your domain name. We live in a very tech savvy world and more people are accessing the Internet now than ever before. In fact, most people will check out a church online before they ever walk through the front doors, so it is to your benefit to pay close attention to the way the vision of your church is being presented through your brand.
Downfalls of Not Having a .Church TLD
Churches that fail to register their church with a .church TLD run the risk of losing that option to an organization with a website they wouldn’t want associated with the church at all. For example, if a church website has a .com TLD only, another entity could register the .org TLD and put up an immoral website. The best way to avoid this happening is to grab as many appropriate TLDs as you can and this can be done very affordably for about $50 per year.
A smaller number of church communicators and church digital strategists are not that keen on the idea – some calling it a “fad” or even a “bad choice” when one considers the end user.
Cody “hates” it. Here’s why.
Basically, would potential visitors or even current members recognize it as a website address? The issue arises especially in print, when you are trying to communicate where your church audience (particularly visitors) can find additional information.
For example, trinity123church.org may be easier to recognize as a website than trinity123.church.
To help, you may need to visually add a “www” in front of the domain, like so: www.trinity123.church. This helps to make it clear in print that it’s a website.
I think Cody brings up a great point to consider as you tweak your digital strategy and contemplate how you wish to display information to your potential members.
In fact, you would not (or should not) be giving up your current domain name. Based on your audience, you can decide which website domain name takes precedence, as well as which one you use in print.
Jim sums this up nicely:
For many people your website will be their first introduction to your church. Think of it as your virtual welcome-home mat.
Whether they are looking for you deliberately or just searching for churches in the area, many people will find your website long before they set foot in the building. In fact, a recent study by Grey Matter Research found that,
“In the last 12 months, over 17 million American adults who don’t regularly attend worship services visited the website of a local church or place of worship”
Grabbing your .church domain is more about protecting your brand and driving more traffic to your ministry that it is about the next cool thing. Being intentional about the way you communicate online is good digital stewardship that impacts lives.
So, after I Buy it then What?
Well, you basically want to consider two main options.
The easier option is to set up a redirect (domain forwarding) from your new domain name (trinity123.church) to your current domain name (trinity123church.org), like Jim did.
Side Note: The domain registrar usually ensures that your domain name would function with or without the www (subdomain) added to your domain name.
This is probably a 10-minute task and can be done by anyone who has access to your domain registrar’s account. The exact steps vary, depending on where you purchased your domain name, but the core steps are the same. If you don’t have a techie at your church, your domain registrar support team will be able to help you.
The second option involves switching your current website domain (trinity123church.org) to your new domain name (trinity123.church).
This requires a few more steps and should only be done by someone familiar with domains and server configuration. Your web developer should be able to help you make the switch. It will take about 30 minutes to make the changes, with another 24 hrs for the changes to fully propagate to everyone online.
As mentioned before, you would want to ensure that both domain names lead to the same site, by forwarding the old domain name to the new one (or the new domain to the current url).
If done correctly, the end user would not experience any downtime with your website at all.
.Church TLD Examples
A few examples of churches who have embraced the .church TLD change include:
Life.church (main site)
mstar.church (main site)
NewLife.church (redirects to newlife4me.com/)
Eastside.church (redirects to eastside.com/#home2)
adventist.church (redirects to adventist.org/en/)
These churches are well on their way to adapting a new way of branding their churches and declaring their visions to their communities. With the addition of the .church TLD, you could do the same for you community.
Are you ready to give your church’s brand a big boost? Grab your .church TLD from your favorite domain registrar (e.g. godaddy.com) and watch how it’s used to protect your brand and affect even more lives for God in your community.