A few days ago, I stumbled upon a tweet posted by ChurchTechToday.com.
Their tweet was interesting because it questioned which newly released domain extension is “right” for churches to promote their ministry.
— ChurchTechToday.com (@ChurchTechToday) November 19, 2017
Although there is no argument with the 3 aspects listed in his article about a great church domain being relevant, memorable, and short, I do want to raise the question about which domain extension is best for your church and churches in general.
Since the early days of the internet, .com has long been the king for most websites, including forward-thinking, technically-inclined churches mindful to have purchased their exact match or abbreviated .com domain(s).
Over the years .com domains have become scarce for churches, and .net and .org extensions have staked their claim in a growing ecosystem of domain extensions.
In addition, a growing number of religious and non-religious organizations, both non-profit and for-profit, have chosen to brand their digital presence using a .org.
And because there’s a large number of churches with the same or similar name throughout the world, it’s no surprise to find .net and .org domains, including hyphenated domains, registered for most common church names or phrases.
As you see from the images below even .tv and .us has found a home with churches as well.
And although churches tend to opt for .com, .org, .net, .tv and .us domains in their respective order, there’s an emerging trend over the last couple of years where I’m seeing a number of churches, especially newly planted churches, use new domain extensions.
Nearly 13,000+ church websites are developed on a .church domain. One of the biggest churches in the world, Life.Church, uses a .church web address as their digital presence, previously using LifeChurch.TV.
And here in Austin, our very own Celebration Church uses and advertises its Celebration.Church domain name on billboards prominently displayed alongside a highly trafficked Interstate Highway 35.
Just as Life.Church and Celebration.Church discovered the limited options for churches claiming a space online via domain names, newly planted churches are coming to life using new domain extensions.
In fact, I met with a Pastor for breakfast to discuss his new church plant coming to the greater Round Rock area in 2018.
One of the first things I noted when he sent an initial email to my Mosaic Church Austin account was that his email address used the .online extension.
When we met in person and he shared his vision and church plant documentation, there prominently displayed was his church’s name and domain on the front and back: AwakenChurch.Online.
Although churches often are years behind in technology, it’s good to see a few forward-thinking churches make good on available technologies, especially new domain extensions to promote their digital presence.
However, we still haven’t answered the question of which domain is best for your church.
I recommend churches always owning exact, similar and abbreviated .com domains, choosing a primary domain and then redirecting all other domains to the primary.
If I were to plant a new church today that were in need of a domain for a digital presence, I’d likely search for a domain name using one of the following prioritized domain extensions, listed by preference:
If you choose to use a new domain extension for your church, then I suggest also owning the exact-match .com domain.
For instance, Awaken Church uses AwakenChurch.Online as their digital presence. I recommend they also own and redirect AwakenChurchOnline.com to AwakenChurch.Online.
One thing to remember is that the general internet population has become so acclimated to using .com at the end of addresses.
So procuring the exact-match .com domain is imperative to ensure folks arrive at the desired website should they inadvertently append .com to the end of your chosen domain using a new extension.
By owning both .com and new domain extension, you’ll own traffic instead of losing it.
In addition, it’ll be your sole decision of whether or not to develop your church’s digital presence using either domain while redirecting the other. This is not the case when you own one domain and not the other.
In closing, using a .church makes the most sense and is proving to be the domain extension forward-thinking churches are using to build their digital presence.
But again, don’t stop at only procuring the .church domain for your church. Procure the matching .com too to protect and promote your ministry’s digital presence.