The New .CHURCH Domain Name: Why It Matters To Your Church

Steve Perky

The landscape of Internet domain names is changing. There are literally thousands of new top-level domains (TLD) being released into the wild world of the Internet over the next few years. You may be more familiar with these being called ‘domain extensions.’

Each new TLD represents a new option to the right of the Dot. Until now, our options were limited with the most recognized being .com, .org, .net, and .TV. While there were other options, these were the TLDs that were recommended for churches to purchase.

Of the thousands of new TLD that are coming, you need know how the new .CHURCH domain will affect your church, the important dates that you need to mark on your calendar, and what actions you should take.

2 Reasons You Should Register .CHURCH

Protect Your Name

I have worked with several churches recently who lament not registering the more popular top-level domains (TLD) for their church, and as a result a less than reputable person registered the other domain(s) that match their name. Without naming specific churches, here are some examples.

  • A church named “Our Church” registered “ourchurch.org” and has used it successfully. However, someone else registered “ourchurch.com” and pointed it to an immoral website.
  • Still other churches who did not take their church onto the Internet early were not able to even get the .org TLD for their website.

Since .CHURCH is the most “industry” specific TLD for churches, I recommend you go ahead and register your church's domain with .CHURCH now…before someone else does.

Expand/Refine Your Online Strategy

Replace your current domain

If you do not like your current domain, this is a good opportunity to get a new one.

Keep your current domain, add .CHURCH to your current website.

You can keep you current domain, but go ahead and get the .CHURCH name for your church to protect it. You can point the .CHURCH domain to also go to your website.

Use your new .CHURCH domain as an additional online resource.

This will allow you to set up a website in addition to your main site. This could be used for outreach or non-members who are searching for a new church home.

Timeline

There are three phases to the roll out of .CHURCH

  1. Sunrise Period: July 8, 2014 to September 6, 2014  This period is designed as a protection phase for the roll out of .CHURCH. During this period churches can submit a preregistration request, and these requests are reviewed to ensure that not just anyone can register someone else’s church name. You should take advantage of this time and preregister your name now. The cost of domains during this period are around $35 and will be required to renew annually like all other domains. Note that once you are approved and you have registered during this period, you will not be able to use your new .CHURCH domain until September 17, 2014, but you can rest easy because it will be yours.
  2. Early Access Program: September 10, 2014 – 16 September 16, 2014 – During this period anyone with deep pockets can register your church’s domain if you have not already done so. There will be a sliding fee scale that starts from ridiculously expensive on September 10 down closer to normal on September 16. If did not register during the Sunrise Period, a very wealthy and unscrupulous could snatch your domain.
  3. General Availability: Begins September 17, 2014  Once we get to General Availability .CHURCH domains can be registered on a first come basis at the regular price. Once we get to this date, if you have not already registered your .CHURCH domain, you may be too late. If you missed the Sunrise Period, be sure to mark September 17 on your calendar and try to register your site very early in the day.

How To Get Your .CHURCH Domain Name

Unfortunately, you may not be able to register .CHURCH through your normal domain registrar. Check out DJ Chuang’s website where he has a great list of resources on .CHURCH as well as .BIBLE. There he has a list of places where you can begin the process to register .CHURCH.

Looking for ideas on how to market your new .CHURCH domain? Read my post How To Market a .CHURCH Domain Name.

Question

How will you use .CHURCH to expand your online strategy?

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  1. A typical .org or .net domain costs about $8/y. A .church domain costs $38/y. We’ve managed all these years with a hodgepodge of .orgs, .nets and so forth, and granted it’s a mess, but is it a mess worth Christendom collectively spending millions of extra dollars fixing?

    But then, we’ve gotten away with the domain mess because Google has removed the need for memorizing URLs – just type something close enough into a URL bar, and first hit will probably be your church. More memorable URLs would help reduce reliance on Google, which can only be a good thing.

    1. Jeff, thanks for your input. You make great points. I wish LifeChurch.tv had been awarded the custodianship of .CHURCH instead of DONUTS (more about that at http://churchm.ag/church-domain-update/ ). While I don’t know this for certain, I imagine LifeChurch.tv would not have charged so much. While the $35-$40/y for .CHURCH is in line with other new domain extensions coming on the market, it is a shock compared with the lower prices we have enjoyed with the “older” domain extensions. It may be hard for some churches to add this to their list of domains. However, since .CHURCH is so specific to our “industry”, I feel it is worth it and can open doors for creativity.

      1. I agree, it’s a shame LifeChurch didn’t get it.

        Another consideration is that there are no country-specific versions, like .church.au for instance. The geographical suffix is sometimes a good hint that you’ve found the right site.

  2. Great, have the domains. Now how do I market this? I would love to hear about how Timberline.Church can be seen as a website address instead of looking like a typo. It would be a shame to have to continually use www in front of all our really simple domain names now. Is anyone working on creative ideas to work with this? I am strongly considering changing the fonts in our logo to help communicate our new domain but not confident it will communicate it is our website too.

    1. As it is with any domain name, people learn & remember your domain name through regular usage and repeated exposure. That means putting the domain name on business cards, email signatures, bulletins, social media, signage, and have it resolve as your website URL (and not use .church as a redirect, so that people see it in the address bar and in their bookmarks). I’ve been doing this with http://SocialMedia.Church since day 1, and traffic has been holding steady & growing.

    2. Andy, this is a great question. One way to get it more exposure to those who are already associated with your church in some way (from regular attenders to members) is to make a big deal about it from the “pulpit”. This will different in each church depending upon how you do announcements. Also, it may be beneficial to have a “we moved” social campaign #TimberlineOnTheMove …or something like that. Provide images and text for key influencers on social media to share with their followers and friends. For those outside the church, we may have to go through a season of using either the www. or http://name.church format until more people get used to it.

    3. Seeing the www. or Http:// is the uglest thing to do graphically for anything. It pains me to say that we will need it.

      I guess I am asking, is how to present it graphically without having to educate the congregation or general public that knows only a few of the TLD .com .org .net . I need to settle on which one of these phrasing to use throughout the new website, and any branding, marketing, or print material:
      Timberline.Church
      http://www.Timberline.Church
      http://Timberline.Church

      Which of these would you guys go with?

      I am 6-9 months out of launching a new site using this domain so just in the planning phase of best way to execute. I think we have to use the www until the general public is familiar with this and any of the other new gTLD.

      1. For simplicity sake, I like Timberline.Church. However, I agree with your point that people may not get this is a domain. What I recommend is to use http://www.Timberline.church for the first couple of years. This communicates it is a website, but it looks a lot better than http://. I do think that over the next couple of years we can phase our the www and eventually get to just Timberline.Church.

  3. What about emails? If I use .church as my domain am I able to get my email address with the .church at the end? That will help me make my decision.
    Thanks

    1. @Moses. Great question. Yes, the .church domain can be set up as your email address. It depends on your domain registrar and what email system you are using as to the exact steps to set it up, but it would be set up just like any .org, .com, etc. domain.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

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