In a recent podcast episode, I explored a number of arguments for and against non-profit organizations investing in domain names.
While a growing number of religious and charitable foundations exist, churches are uniquely positioned, in my humble opinion, to make the most of new domain extensions.
Now before you get all in your feelings about .com versus new domain extensions, give me a moment to explain objectively.
Not all of the new domain extensions will succeed. The end. Not exactly. It’s safe to say that .horse, .company, and any other dot whatever outside the context of “church” will ever succeed for churches.
However, new extensions like .bible, .online, and .church are primed and poised for successful adoption by churches in addition to legacy extensions such as .com, .org, and .tv — commonly used extensions by churches.
I was reminded of this thought as we returned from picking up our kids in North Texas after having traveled to Asheville, NC, to participate in a domain investor meetup and attend the worship experience at Elevation Asheville.
I’m always eye active and scouring the horizon for billboards, buildings, wrapped vehicles, and windows, especially when encountering religious organizations such as churches.
En route to pick up our kids, I spotted a church, High Pointe Church of Christ, on the frontage road of Highway 75 in the growing metropolis of McKinney, Texas (population approximately 185K at the time of publication).
As we traveled past the church, I quickly noticed their sign promoting a .church domain, www.hp.church, to be exact. It’s very rare to spot a church — often, churches are decades behind the technology adoption curve — using a .church domain extension.
Nevertheless, I was highly impressed that a two-letter .church extension was put in use for a church with quite a long name.
What I didn’t know and didn’t discover until our return trip back by the church was to snap a few photos to share.
It was then I discovered on the back side of the church — the less traveled side of the church as opposed to the major thoroughfare of Highway 75 promoting hp.church — a sign promoting the church’s full name by way of a long .org domain: highpointechurchofchrist.org.
How fitting is that? A church using a longer legacy domain on a less trafficked side while using a high-context .church domain extension on an exponentially higher trafficked thoroughfare.
Is this the future of the internet for new domain extensions? More specifically, is .church the future of and for churches?
While I pondered the specific .church question as we journeyed towards Austin, I surprisingly discovered a few more churches — existing and new church plants — using .church domains to represent their digital presence.
While .church and new domain extensions are 5+ years old since being released to the general public, most existing churches likely use legacy domains — such as .com, .org, .net, and .tv — to promote their churches.
However, I’m discovering more and more churches — Life.Church, Elevation.Church, Celebration.Church and a growing list — choosing to use new domain extensions — .online, .bible, .today, and especially .church.
While a small percentage of churches use .church domains (stats from ntldstats.com), I believe .church is positioned for long-term success due to the scarcity of legacy domain options because most non-profit organizations use common words.
As discussed in a recent podcast, churches are known entities to encounter naming and domain name conflicts due to the sheer volume of churches in the world (approximately 40 million churches as of 2016). America alone likely accounts for 2-3% percent of the global total.
Knowing naming conflicts exist and that .church offers greater context for online searchers, I believe .church offers greater variety in options for existing and new church plants to choose from when naming their church.